After getting swept in a MAAC series for the first time since the 2007 season, the Canisius baseball team responded this weekend by completing its first-ever three-game sweep of Manhattan College at Van Cortlandt Park, holding off the Jaspers 8-5 in Riverdale, N.Y. on Sunday afternoon.
The Golden Griffins extend their winning streak to a season-high seven games, improving to 27-10 on the season and 7-5 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. Canisius is the first MAAC team to sweep a three-game series at Van Cortlandt Park since Le Moyne in 2007.
Junior Jimmy Luppens was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk while junior Ronnie Bernick went 1-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBI while hitting his second homer of the season. Freshman Anthony Massicci scored two runs for the Griffs while sophomore Connor Panas had two RBI.
Manhattan (16-21, 6-9 MAAC) scored first for the third time in the series, getting an infield single from Yoandry Galan in the bottom of the second. Sophomore Devon Stewart then buckled down on the mound for the Griffs, not allowing a batter to get past second base in the next five innings, facing one batter over the minimum in that stretch.
Canisius would score in four consecutive innings to take the lead and then grab control. With one out in the fourth, Massicci was hit by a pitch while Luppens and junior Jesse Kelso drew consecutive walks to load the bases. A sacrifice fly from sophomore Jesse Puscheck tied the game at 1-1. In the fifth, sophomore Mike Booth reached on a one-out single, and Bernick followed with a homer to right to give Canisius a 3-1 lead.
Luppens led off the sixth with a single, advanced to second on a passed ball and moved to third on a groundout. A pinch-hit double from junior Shane Zimmer scored Luppens, and Zimmer would move to third on a wild pitch. A sacrifice fly from Panas put the Griffs up by five. Canisius broke the game open in the seventh, starting with Bernick being hit by a pitch. After the junior moved to second on a wild pitch, Massicci scored Bernick with an RBI single and took the extra base on the throw home. Luppens followed with an RBI single to make it 7-1. A single from Kelso and walk to Zimmer loaded the bases, with a bases-loaded walk to Panas forcing home Luppens and giving the Griffs a seven-run advantage.
After scoring once in the bottom of the eighth, Manhattan rallied in the bottom of the ninth and brought the winning run to the plate. A two-RBI single from Ramon Ortega made it 8-5 and brought junior Jon Fitzsimmons into the game. After a walk loaded the bases, Fitzsimmons struck out Kyle Murphy to pick up his seventh save of the season and second save of the weekend.
Stewart allowed one run on six hits, walking two and striking out five in seven innings to improve to 3-4 on the year. Sophomore Eric Stolzenburg threw 1.1 innings, matching his longest outing of the season.
Canisius is scheduled to play 10 of its last 16 games at home, starting with Tuesday’s game against the University of Akron. First pitch at the Demske Sports Complex is set for 3 p.m.
Notes: The seven-game winning streak is the longest for the Golden Griffins since a seven-game winning streak during the 2009 season (April 28-May 9)… Canisius swept Manhattan in a three-game series for the second time in the last four seasons (2010)… Canisius is now 17-11 against Manhattan in the last six years after going 3-25 in the previous 10 seasons… Fitzsimmons has a save in three of the last four games after recording four saves in the first 33 games of the season... Zimmer is now 3-for-5 with four RBI as a pinch hitter this season.