The Canisius College baseball team scored three runs in the top of the ninth inning to rally for a 7-5 win at Niagara University to complete the three-game sweep of the rival Purple Eagles on Friday afternoon. The Golden Griffins, who have won seven of their last eight games, finish the regular season at 31-25 overall and 16-8 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
will be the No. 2 seed in next week's MAAC Championship at Joe Bruno Stadium in
Troy, N.Y. Canisius opens play against No. 3 seed Fairfield University at 7
p.m. on Thursday night.
Fans who are not able to attend the MAAC Championship will be able to watch a pay-per-view broadcast for each game on MAAC.TV or listen to a free, audio broadcast on GoGriffs.com.
Canisius took a 2-0 lead in the third inning, which started with junior Jose Torralba reaching on a bunt single. After sophomore Ronnie Bernick was hit by a pitch, Torralba was thrown out at third on a bunt from freshman Mike Krische. Sophomore Jesse Kelso then doubled to right to score Bernick. Krische would score later in the inning on a passed ball.
After the Purple Eagles tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the third, Canisius reclaimed the lead in the fourth, starting with a one-out single from Mike Booth. The freshman moved up to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on a junior Chris Gruarin and scored on an RBI groundout from Torralba.
The Purple Eagles tied it in the fifth but a home run from sophomore Jimmy Luppens in the sixth put Canisius ahead 4-3. Niagara came back and took a 5-4 lead in the seventh with a two-run homer from Eric Hink.
The Griffs started their rally in the ninth with a leadoff walk to Torralba. After Bernick moved Torralba to second, Krische beat out an infield single to put runners at the corners. Kelso then tied the game with a single through the right side to score Torralba and send Krische to third. After an intentional walk to freshman Jesse Puscheck, Luppens doubled to center, scoring Krische and Kelso and putting Canisius up 7-5.
Sophomore Jon Fitzsimmons got the final out of the eighth and then sent Niagara down in order in the ninth to pick up his second win of the season. Redshirt junior Billy Martin started and went three innings for the Griffs, who used five pitchers on the day.
Notes: Canisius sweeps Niagara for the third time in the last six years and is now 18-4 against the Purple Eagles in the last six seasons... Canisius won 16 conference games for the fourth time in the last five seasons... Canisius is 30-10 in MAAC series since 2008 and has a 82-36 conference record during that span... Canisius is now 39-18 in regular-season games in the month of May in the last five seasons... With the win, Canisius coach Mike McRae improves to 220-219 in his eight seasons with the Golden Griffins.
Canisius had its fifth last at-bat win of the season and won for the second time in 2012 when trailing after the eighth inning... The home run from Luppens was the first by a Golden Griffin since April 14, ending a span of 18 games and 579 at-bats without a homer... Bernick was hit by a pitch in all three games, raising his season total to 17 and moving into second place in the Canisius single-season record book... Fitzsimmons and redshirt Nathan Linseman each made their 22nd appearance on the season, tying the program's single-season record... Sophomore Shane Zimmer had two walks and now has 50 on the season, six off the MAAC's single-season record... Canisius hit .283 as a team in the month of May, holding its opponents to .227... Krische hit .361 with 10 runs scored and seven steals in 10 games while Kelso was .359 with 13 RBI in the 10 games... Canisius had a team ERA of 2.82 with its opponents having an ERA of 5.31.