Canisius sophomore Valorie Nappo drove in the game-winning run in the top of the 10th inning in game one and senior Caroline Main earned a win and a save in the circle as the Golden Griffins swept Niagara by scores of 4-3 in 10 innings and 3-2 in MAAC softball action Wednesday afternoon in Lewiston, N.Y. Canisius has now won seven of its last nine games and sits at 17-28 overall and 9-5 in MAAC play.
In the first game, Canisius trailed Niagara by a score of 3-2 in the sixth, but the Griffs were able to push across the tying run in that frame thanks to the bat of Nappo. Senior Lizzy Gatto led off the inning with a base hit, and later stole second. After Niagara starter Kim Bryson got the second out of the inning, Gatto moved one base closer to knotting the game at 3-3 when she advanced on a wild pitch, and she would cross the plate moments later on Nappo's single to left to make the score 3-3.
In the seventh, the Griffs had runners at second and third with one out and were unable to score, and Niagara answered by nearly winning the game in the bottom of the seventh. Niagara's Ambur Farmer led off the inning with a base hit and was standing on second base when teammate Jen Hare ripped a shot to right with two outs. Farmer tried to score from second on the play, but she was gunned down at the plate by rightfielder Lauren Falzone to force the game into extra innings.
Canisius finally took the 4-3 lead in the 10th when Gatto got the inning started with a leadoff walk and then moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Robin Kennery. After Bryson got a fly-ball out for out No. 2 in the 10th, Nappo stepped back in the box and hit a ball to shallow right that allowed Gatto to score. In the home half of the 10th, Main allowed a leadoff base hit to Niagara but got two strikeouts to wrap up the game and secure the extra-frame victory for the Blue and Gold.
Main earned the win after she came on in relief of starter Jen Consaul and struck out four while allowing no runs on three hits in two innings of work. Senior Lauryn Chris had three hits, including a double, in the win for Canisius, while Nappo and Falzone chipped in two hits as well to Canisius' winning cause.
In the second game, Canisius scored three runs in the top of the first and didn't look back en route to a 3-2 win and sweep of Niagara (12-19, 5-9 MAAC). The Blue and Gold posted three runs on one hit, with that hit coming from junior Katie Medina, who singled to center to drive in teammate Katie Lancellotti. Niagara scored a single run in the third and then added a single tally in the fifth, but the Purple Eagles struggled to figure out Griff starter Corrine Schaus, who picked up her third win of the season in the circle after she gave up two runs, one earned, on four hits to go with a walk and a strikeout. Main came on in relief and pitched a perfect sixth and seventh inning where she fanned three to earn her second save of the year.
Five different players had a hit in the game two win for the Griffs, and the two teams combined for a total of nine singles on the day. Falzone had a songle, a run scored and drew two walks in the nightcap victory for Canisius, while Medina had a hit and an RBI. Chris and Nappo also had base knocks for the Griffs.
With the two wins, Canisius secured two more points in the 2011-12 Battle of the Bridge competition, which gives the Griffs a 16.5-14.5 lead with once event (baseball) left. By earning 16.5 points, Canisius has at least clinched a tie in this year's Battle of the Bridge, and by rule, will retain the Canal Cup.
Canisius will close out the regular season on Sunday, May 6, when the team hosts Rider on Senior Day. First pitch is set for 11 a.m.
Game Notes: Canisius is now 86-20-1 all-time against Niagara... The Griffs' sweep ends a three-year string where the two teams split their MAAC doubleheader matchups... Canisius has now played three 10-inning games this season, the first time that has happened in school history... With hits in both games, Falzone extended her hitting streak to a season-long seven straight... Nappo leads the Griffs with 17 hits this season when there are runners in scoring position... Gatto has scored six runs in Canisius' last six games... Main's save in game two was her second this season, with the first one coming April 9 at Robert Morris... In her last five appearances, Main is 2-1 with a save and a 1.91 ERA to go with 18 strikeouts in 14.2 innings of work.