The Caesar Rodney Riders’ baseball club comes into the 2014 season looking to make an impact after early playoff exits the last two seasons by playoff finalists Caravel and Milford.

The Riders started the season falling to Sussex Tech in a game that went down to the final innings. After falling behind 4-0, the Riders dropped four runs on the Ravens in the sixth inning before allowing two runs in the bottom half of the inning to fall 6-5.

After a meeting with Laurel on Tuesday, the Riders will come upon their next test, two-time defending champion St. Mark’s.

The Spartans are off to a hot start, going 2-0 with wins over St. Elizabeth and Hodgson Vo Tech, two playoff teams from a year ago.

Over the past few seasons the staple of St. Mark’s has been their gritty play matched by a deep group, and strong pitching staff led by manager Matt Smith who knows how to push the right buttons. This season, the makeup of the Spartans’ club is no different.

St. Mark’s is led by a strong pitching staff which includes Billy Phillips who pitched five innings of 2-run baseball against St. Elizabeth, and Tommy Spagnolo who threw six strong innings against Hodgson Vo Tech giving up a run on just five hits.

Also, St. Mark’s lineup is as strong as ever, especially the meat of their order led by seniors Tommy Freeland, Dillon Holdren and standout Dominic DiSabatino who over the Spartans’ first two games have combined for seven hits including two doubles and a two-run homerun.

CR will counter with a strong and versatile lineup of their own, as well as some pitchers capable of carrying the load if necessary.

Steven Clavier and James Jefferson should solidify the top of the Riders’ lineup, while Seth Brosius, who went 1-for-2 with an RBI against Sussex Tech, Kendall Wicks and Branden Briggs bulk up the middle of the lineup.

And while lefty Travis Dill was hurt by the long-ball in the opener against Sussex Tech he’s an innings eater who causes matchup issues helping lead a pitching crop featuring Brosius, Briggs, Clavier, Gabriel Rivera, Charles Entenman, and Quintin Ivy.

While no victory in the month of April is going to win anyone a state championship, a win over the defending two-time champions could do wonders for the Riders. Especially since after taking on the Spartans CR will take on conference opponents in five of their next six games.