The Canisius baseball team finished off a three-game sweep of Saint Peter’s University with a 9-8 win over the Peacocks at the Demske Sports Complex on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Griffins win their fourth straight game to improve to 14-7 overall and 3-0 in the MAAC for the first time since 2010.
For the third consecutive day, Canisius got on the board first as senior Ryan Coppinger led off the bottom of third inning by sending the 0-1 pitch over the fence in right center for his second homer of the 2014 season. The Griffs added another run when junior Connor Panas scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly from freshman Christ Conley.
Saint Peter’s (4-15, 0-3 MAAC) would take its first lead of the series in the fifth, scoring three unearned runs. The Griffs appeared to be out of the inning but senior Jimmy Luppens dropped a low throw from senior Ronnie Bernick for what would have been the third out of the inning. A run scored on the play, and Chris Hugg followed with a two-run double to the fence in left center from Hugg gave the Peacocks a 3-2 lead.
The Griffs tried to answer in the fifth as Panas led off with a double and moved to third on a groundout. Senior Shane Zimmer was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners. Conley followed with a grounder to first base, with Nick Henriquez firing home to gun down Panas as catcher Jim Smith blocked the plate to record the second out of the inning. Saint Peter’s starter John Leiter got Bernick to pop out with the bases loaded to escape the jam and maintain the Peacocks’ one-run lead.
Canisius tied the game at 3-3 in the sixth as pinch hitter Anthony Massicci led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Coppinger and got to third base on a passed ball. Massicci would score on a sacrifice fly from Panas. Saint Peter’s grabbed the lead right back on a one-out, solo homer to right-center field from Rob Moore in the top of the seventh.
The Griffs answered with a two-out rally by scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning. Senior Jesse Kelso was hit by a pitch and then stole second base. Bernick single a chopper to shortstop for an infield single, but the ball got by the fielder and went into the outfield with the error scoring Kelso and tying the game. Massicci singled up the middle and Bernick went first to third, with Massicci taking the extra base and advancing to second on the throw. Coppinger then sent a chopper to second base, beating out the high throw that went into the Saint Peter’s dugout as two runs scored on the play to put the Griffs up 6-4. Canisius added two more runs when a fly ball from Panas was dropped by the left fielder.
Saint Peter’s didn’t go away quietly as the Peacocks put together five hits in the top of the eighth and tied the game at 8-8. Junior Mike Krische led off the bottom of the eighth with a single to shortstop. Conley popped up a sacrifice bunt but the Saint Peter’s pitcher couldn’t make the diving catch as the ball trickled into foul territory and both runners were safe. Kelso worked a walk to load the bases for Bernick, who hit a sacrifice fly to right to score Krische and give the lead back to the Griffs.
Saint Peter’s loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs but junior Eric Stolzenburg got a pop up to complete the sweep and pick up his first win of the season.
Junior Devon Stewart allowed four runs (one earned) in seven innings while striking out three in the start.
Coppinger was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBI and a home run. Bernick went 2-for-3 while Krische was 2-for-2. Luppens and Panas reached base three times while Kelso walked twice and had two stolen bases.
Canisius hosts two mid-week games at the Demske Sports Complex this week. The Golden Griffins face Buffalo on Tuesday, with game time set for 3:30 p.m.
Game Notes: Canisius defeated Saint Peter’s for the 19th time in the last 23 meetings… Canisius also opened MAAC play 3-0 in 2008 and 2010… Canisius batted around for the fourth time in the series and ninth time on the season… Bernick and Coppinger each have two or more hits in three of the last four games… Massicci extended his hitting streak to six games… Zimmer has six walks and two hit by pitch in the last four games.