The Canisius baseball team swept a doubleheader at Niagara University on Saturday, winning 8-1 and 5-4 to clinch the series over the Purple Eagles for the eighth consecutive season. With the wins, Canisius improves to 33-14 overall and 16-4 in the MAAC.
The Golden Griffins extend their winning streak to 11 games, which matches the longest in program history and happened last season.
With the two wins, Canisius takes the series and two points in the Battle of the Bridge competition between the schools. The final standings for the 2013-14 Canal Cup are 23.5 to 9.5 as Canisius wins the all-sports competition for the fourth straight year.
Game One — Canisius 8, Niagara 1
Niagara scored a run in the bottom of the first before Canisius responded with six consecutive runs. The Griffs came right back in the top of the second as junior Connor Panas and senior Jimmy Luppens led off with back-to-back singles. Junior Mike Krische was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Freshman Christ Conley forced home a run with a bases-loaded walk to tie the game. Sophomore Anthony Massicci gave Canisius the lead with a two-out, two-RBI single.
The Griffs added three more runs in the third as sophomore Brett Siddall led off with a single. Panas followed with an RBI double and scored on a groundout from Luppens. An RBI single from senior Jesse Kelso made it 5-1. Canisius extended its lead to five runs on a two-out, RBI single from Conley in the fifth. Junior Jesse Puscheck had a pinch-hit RBI single in the eighth while Kelso forced home a run after being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth.
The run support would be more than enough for junior Rohn Pierce who won his fourth straight start. Pierce (10-2) went seven innings, allowed one run on eight hits, walked one and struck out seven. Senior Mike Tolsma threw two scoreless innings to close out the game.
Panas was 3-for-5 with two runs scored while Luppens and Kelso each recorded two hits.
Game Two — Canisius 5, Niagara 4
Canisius took the early lead on a two-out, RBI single from senior Ryan Coppinger in the second inning. Niagara (16-29, 8-13 MAAC) would take the lead for the second time on the day by scoring two runs in the bottom of the second. The Griffs answered right back in the top of the third, starting with a leadoff double from senior Ronnie Bernick. Senior Jose Torralba followed with an RBI single to knot the score at 2-2.
Canisius took the lead for good in the fourth, as Panas tripled with one out. Luppens followed with an RBI single and would steal second. Coppinger reached on an error, and Luppens scored on the errant throw to make it 4-2. The Griffs scored for the fourth straight inning by getting what proved to be the game-winning run in the fifth. Junior Jesse Puscheck doubled with two outs and scored on an RBI single from sophomore Brett Siddall to put the Griffs up by three runs.
Niagara scored two runs in the fifth and would chase Canisius starter Alex Godzak after five innings. Junior Brandon Bielecki picked up his fourth save of the season by throwing two scoreless innings and retiring six straight batters after allowing a leadoff single in the sixth.
Godzak (8-3) won for the fourth consecutive start and allowed four runs (three earned) in five innings.
Panas and Luppens each had two hits while Bernick went 1-for-2 with a walk.
Canisius and Niagara will conclude the three-game series on Sunday, with first pitch set for noon.
Notes: The 11-game winning streak is the second-longest active streak in the country (trailing a 15-game winning streak by Kennesaw State) and the Griffs’ 10-game road winning streak is the third-longest active streak nationally… Pierce is the third starting pitcher in program history to record double-digit wins in a season, joining Shane Davis (12 in 2008) and Garrett Cortright (11 in 2013)… Canisius now has 21 road wins on the season and 46 road wins in the last two seasons… Krische now has eight walks in his last four starts… In the last eight games, Panas is 17-for-29 with six walks and 10 runs scored… Siddall extended his hitting streak to a season-long seven games.