POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – The Marist baseball team earned an 8-6 win over Rider in its regular-season finale on Sunday at McCann Field. Prior to the game, the five members of the team’s senior class – right-handed pitcher Chris Bielak (Sayreville, N.J.), right-handed pitcher Brett Houseal (Landisville, Pa.), left fielder Eric Helmrich (Yonkers, N.Y.), shortstop Zach Shank (Lititz, Pa.) and first baseman Mike Orefice (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) – were honored in Senior Day ceremonies.
Rider took an early 2-0 lead on a first-inning solo home run from left fielder Ian Lindsay, and an infield RBI single by third baseman Adam Wayman. Marist took the lead for good with a five-run fourth. The Red Foxes had just two hits in the inning – one being an RBI double by Helmrich – but benefitted from three walks, a passed ball which brought in two runs, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
The Red Foxes then added three runs in the sixth. Back-to-back one-out doubles by Helmrich and freshman second baseman Joey Aiola (Suffern, N.Y.) gave Marist a 6-2 lead. After back-to-back walks to freshman center fielder Matt Pagano (Cranston, R.I.) and Shank, Orefice delivered a two-run single to put the Red Foxes up 8-2.
Rider clawed back with two runs in the eighth and two in the ninth. The Broncs put the tying run on first with two outs in the ninth, but junior right-hander Kevin McCarthy (Malverne, N.Y.) induced a foul out on the only pitch he threw in the game to record a save.
Helmrich finished 2-for-4 with two doubles, two runs scored and an RBI. Pagano was 2-for-3 with a run scored. Marist had seven hits, and drew seven walks.
Sophomore left-hander Rich Vrana (Lindenhurst, N.Y.) improved to 6-1 with six effective innings. Vrana struck out six, and allowed just four hits and one walk. The save was McCarthy’s eighth of the season and second of the series.
Rider starter David Hafer (0-1), who went three-plus innings, took the loss. Lindsay paced the Broncs offensively by going 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Marist ended the regular season at 27-22-1 overall and 17-7 in the MAAC. Rider is 34-20 overall and 18-6 in the MAAC.
Marist opens play in the 2013 MAAC Baseball Championships on Thursday at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton, N.J. The Red Foxes, who are the #2 seed, will face third-seeded Canisius in the first round at 3 p.m.