TRENTON, N.J. — The Canisius College baseball team used 14 hits, worked 13 walks and took advantage of four errors to defeat No. 1 seed Rider University 18-7 in the winners’ bracket game of the 2013 MAAC Championship at ARM & HAMMER Park on Saturday afternoon. With the win, the No. 3 seed Golden Griffins improve to 41-15 on the season, matching the program and MAAC records with 41 victories in a season.
Canisius advances to the championship round of the MAAC Championship for the fourth time in five years and wins its first two games of the four-team, double-elimination tournament for the second consecutive season. Canisius will play No. 4 seed Siena at noon on Sunday. If Canisius drops the first game, the teams will play a final game immediately following the first game as Canisius looks to win the first conference championship in program history.
Sophomore Jesse Puscheck was 3-for-6, including a double, triple and grand slam, with four runs scored, five RBI. Junior Ryan Coppinger went 2-for-5 with five RBI while junior Jose Torralba matched Puscheck with four runs scored. Sophomore Mike Krische was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI while senior Brooklyn Foster was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBI as well.
The game started on Friday night and was suspended due to rain, with the score tied at 4-4 through four innings. Canisius jumped out to a 4-0 lead, taking advantage of three two-out walks from Rider starter Kurt Sowa in the first inning. Puscheck then hit an 0-2 changeup from the MAAC Pitcher of the Year over the right-field fence for a grand slam. The Broncs came back with a two-out, two-RBI single from Nick Crescenzo in the bottom of the inning to cut the Canisius lead in half.
Canisius got one run back in the top of the fourth on a sacrifice fly from Coppinger. Rider would load the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the inning, using an RBI single from James Locklear, hit by pitch to Ian Lindsay to force home a run, and an RBI single from Adam Wayman to tie the game at 5-5.
Upon resumption on Saturday, each team scored twice in the fifth inning before Canisius broke the game open with an eight-run sixth inning, sending 12 batters to the plate and taking advantage of a number of defensive miscues by Rider. With the bases loaded, Canisius used a check-swing, opposite-field single from Krische that fell just inside the right-field line to take a 9-7 lead. A two-RBI single from Bernick made it 11-7 before Coppinger sent a fly ball to center field that appeared to be a routine sacrifice fly. However, the ball got above the height of the stadium and the wind blew the ball all the way to the warning track as it landed for a two-run triple and put Canisius up by six runs. A two-RBI single from Foster later in the inning capped the eight-run inning.
Sophomore Devon Stewart (5-5) made the first relief appearance of his career, starting the fifth inning in relief of freshman Alex Godzak. After allowing two runs in the fifth, Stewart settled down and threw four scoreless innings to pick up his fifth win of the season.
Notes: The eight runs scored by Canisius in the sixth inning matches a season high, which happened twice during the regular season… Canisius and Rider met in the winners’ bracket game for the third time in four years. Canisius defeated Rider in the game for the second straight year… The 18 runs are the most scored by Canisius in a postseason game, besting the mark of 16 set in a 16-7 win over Manhattan in an elimination game in 2008… The 11-run margin of victory is also the biggest in a postseason game in program history, beating the nine-run mark from that win over Manhattan in 2008… Of the 18 runs scored by Canisius, nine were put on base by a walk, hit by pitch or Rider error… Canisius batted around for the 21st time this season… Canisius had three steals in the game, recording multiple steals for the 29th time this season… The 13 walks worked by the Griffs matches the program’s single-game record (13 vs. Buffalo State on May 5, 1982).