Sunday, April 1, 2012

Rider's Offense Comes To Life In Sweep Of Manhattan

Rachael Matreale pitched all 14 innings for the Broncs

Rider 4
Manhattan 0

Rider 6
Manhattan 4

Game One Box
Game Two Box

The Rider Broncs got off to a 2-0 start in conference play with their sweep of the Manhattan Lady Jaspers Sunday in Lawrenceville, NJ.

Last season, Rider's senior pitcher Rachael Matreale was known as "Hard Luck Rachael" because her team could not produce runs for her. That's changed this year. Rachael leads the MAAC in wins in part because her fellow Broncs have ramped up the offense for her. As predicted here, Rachael did start both games today, and aside from one batter, pitched brilliantly in picking up two big wins. But the real story was the Rider offensive attack. The Broncs pounded out 20 hits on the day, and were never behind in the games.

Rachael Matreale threw a two hitter in the opening game, and allowed only one Lady Jasper to reach third base. The game was scoreless in the fifth inning when, with the bases loaded, Sam Pugh hit a sacrifice fly to score Lisa Blanton and give the Broncs the only run they would need. But they struck for three more in the sixth inning when Heather Muscara scored on a wild pitch, and Alyssa Paul singled home a pair of runs, giving Rider a 4-0 win. Alyssa was 2 for 3 in the game, as was Lucy Higgins and Lisa Blanton. Lisa scored twice. Rachael Matreale struck out seven Lady Jaspers.

Rider then opened the second game by scoring runs in each of the first four innings. They began the game with three consecutive hits. Singles by Kehli Washington and Alyssa Paul set the table for freshman Gina McCool who smashed a double to center that scored both. The Broncs took a 3-0 lead in the second inning as a result of Alyssa Paul's third RBI of the day, which scored Heather Muscara, who had doubled. The Lady Jaspers scored their first run of the day in the top of the third inning when Amanda Babcock made it home after doubling and being sacrificed to third courtesy of Amanda Paxson's ground ball. Rider responded immediately with three runs in the next two innings. After Alyssen Breeden singled, Amanda Irving smashed a homer to give the Broncs a 5-1 lead. In the fourth inning, Sam Pugh singled home Alyssa Paul for a seemingly comfortable 6-1 lead. In the fifth inning, however, Rachael Matreale encountered her only trouble of the day. That was when senior Carla Velasquez pummeled a pitch over the center field fence for a two out, three run homer that gave the LJs new life. Rachael would have liked to have that pitch back, but it mattered not as the scoring was complete for the day. Rider won 6-4 to open their MAAC season in smashing fashion.

Rachael Matreale showed that she is a real leader who will allow her team to compete with anyone in the MAAC. She struck out 15 on the day. And as I wrote yesterday, Rider needs solid performances from players who have done it in the past...and they got that big time today. Alyssa Paul had a fabulous doubleheader, hitting 5 for 7 with three RBIs. Heather Muscara was 2 for 3 with a pair of runs; Kehli Washington had two hits and a pair of runs; Sam Pugh had a couple RBIs. These "veterans" really stepped up their play. Younger players like Lisa Blanton and Gina McCool had very productive days. For Manhattan, Amanda Babcock was 2 for 3, and of course Carla Velasquez hit that big home run.

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