The Canisius baseball team completed the three-game sweep of rival Niagara University with a 14-6 win at the Demske Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon. With the win, the Golden Griffins improve to 37-13 overall and 14-7 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and clinch a spot in the MAAC Championship (May 23-26 in Trenton, N.J.) for the seventh consecutive season. The streak of seven straight appearances in the MAAC Championship is now the longest active streak in the conference.
Six Golden Griffins had multi-hit games, with sophomore Connor Panas going 3-for-5 with three runs scored, two RBI and his first home run of the season. Sophomore Mike Krische and junior Jesse Kelso each went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI. Junior Jimmy Luppens was 3-for-4 with two RBI while junior Jose Torralba was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, two RBI and a triple. Sophomore Mike Booth went 2-for-5 with three RBI.
Niagara (16-34, 9-14 MAAC) took advantage of two walks and two infield hits in the first inning to score the game’s first three runs. Canisius came back with two infield hits of their own in the bottom of the inning and had four hits total in the inning to score two runs and get within one at 3-2. Niagara regained the three-run advantage by scoring two runs in the top of the third, but the Griffs answered right back in the bottom of the inning.
Luppens led off with a single through the left side and Panas followed with a single off the glove of pitcher Matt Munson (0-3) to get runners at the corners with no outs. Luppens would score on a fielder’s choice from Torralba to make it 5-3. After Krische worked a walk, Kelso dropped down a perfect bunt, which resulted in a single and loaded the bases. Booth jumped on the next pitch for a bases-clearing double to give Canisius a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Canisius extended the lead with four straight two-out hits in the fourth. An RBI triple from Torralba, RBI single from Krische and RBI double from Kelso put the Griffs up 9-5. Booth followed with a single through the left side, and Kelso was held at third. Booth rounded first and was caught in a rundown, but an errant throw from Niagara in an attempt to get Kelso at third went into the Canisius dugout and allowed the junior to score and put Canisius up by five runs. Kelso had an RBI single in the sixth, Luppens had a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Panas also had a two-run homer in the inning to close out the scoring for the Griffs.
Sophomore Devon Stewart started for the Griffs and allowed five runs on seven hits in three innings, walked three and struck out two. Four Canisius relievers combined to allow two hits and one run in six innings of relief. Senior Jason Rubinstein (1-0) allowed one run in two innings to pick up his first victory of the season while junior Mike Tolsma threw two scoreless innings. Redshirt freshman Iannick Remillard and sophomore Aaron Casper each threw a scoreless inning of relief.
Canisius will play its final road game of the regular season on Tuesday, when the Golden Griffins take on Youngstown State. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at Eastwood Field, the home of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers. The Scrappers are in the New York-Penn League and are the Class A short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.
Notes: Canisius has now made the MAAC Championship each year since 2007… Canisius recorded its 15th three-game sweep of a conference series in the past six seasons… With the win, coach Mike McRae now has a career record of 324-323… Torralba scored eight runs on the weekend while Panas scored seven runs with eight hits… Canisius scored double-digit runs for the 12th time this season… The Griffs have now won 21 of the last 25 meetings with the Purple Eagles and lead the all-time series 78-76… The final score in the 2012-13 Battle of the Bridge competition is 21-12 in favor of the Golden Griffins, who won the Canal Cup for the third straight season and for the fifth time in six years.