TRENTON, N.J. - Getting a go-ahead two-RBI double from junior Drew Pettit and three solid pitching performances, the Canisius College baseball team fought off elimination with a 4-3, come-from-behind win over No. 2 seed Rider at Waterfront Park on Friday afternoon.
The No. 4 seed Golden Griffins (26-31) advance and will play at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon in another elimination game. Canisius will play No. 3 seed Siena, who lost 8-7 to No. 1 Manhattan on Friday night. The winner of the game will have to defeat the Jaspers twice (Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.) to win the title.
The Golden Griffins had a golden opportunity to score multiple runs in the top of the first, loading the bases with no outs after senior Will Chomicki and freshman Jose Torralba singled and senior Sean Jamieson was hit by a pitch. Senior Nate Eppley then got three strikeouts, but sophomore Chris Gruarin struck out on a wild pitch and everyone advanced 90 feet with Chomicki scoring to give Canisius the 1-0 lead.
Rider (33-18) tied the game in the bottom of the first on an RBI groundout from senior Mason Heyne to make it 1-1. The Griffs would take the lead again in the top of the fourth as freshmen Shane Zimmer and Ryan Coppinger drew one-out walks. Torralba then came through with the two-out RBI single to give Canisius the 2-1 lead.
Rider took its only lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth, getting an RBI single from Steve Galella and, Galella eventually came around to score on a balk. Freshman Garrett Cortright then buckled down and retired the next eight batters he faced to keep Canisius in the game.
The Griffs took the lead for good in the seventh as Torralba led off with a single, his third hit of the day. After Jamieson was hit by a pitch for the second time, Pettit had would proved to be the game-winning hit with the one-out, two-RBI single over the third-base bag that went all the way to the left-field corner. Torralba scored easily and Jamieson came around to score from first and give Canisius the 4-3 lead.
Cortright pitched into the eighth, giving up and single and then the first out of the inning before being lifted for redshirt sophomore Nathan Linseman. The lefty struck out Karl Johnston and after a walk to A.J. Albee put runners at first and second, Linseman got Heyne to hit a grounder to the right side. Burton made a diving stop into the hole, got up and flipped to Linseman who beat a head-first slide from Heyne by a half-step to keep Canisius in the lead.
In the bottom of the ninth, redshirt sophomore Billy Martin allowed a one-out double to Nick Crescenzo but then got Galella to fly out to left and struck out pinch hitter Ryan Murphy to end the game and pick up his second save of the season.
Cortright (4-4) went 7.1 innings, allowed six hits and three runs, walked zero and struck out two to earn the victory.
Notes: Canisius and Rider met in the postseason for the fourth consecutive season... Rider defeated Canisius in 2008 and twice in 2010 and the Griffs defeated the Broncs in 2009 at Waterfront Park... Canisius and Rider met for the 17th time in the last four seasons, the most common opponent for Canisius during that span... Torralba now leads the team with four hits in the tournament and had 10 hits in four games against Rider this season... Cortright pitched into the eighth inning for the second time this season as the freshman went 7.2 innings in his collegiate debut against Creighton (Feb. 20)... Cortright didn't allow a walk in a start for the first time this season... Coppinger now has a hit in nine of the last 10 games... Zimmer had a multi-hit game for the third time in the last six games.