TRENTON, N.J. -- The Canisius College baseball team saw its 2011 season come to an end in a 3-2 elimination game loss to the No. 3 seed Siena College Saints in the 2011 MAAC Championship at Waterfront Park in Trenton, N.J. on Saturday afternoon. The No. 4 seed Golden Griffins close out the campaign with a 26-32 record.
Senior Andrew Russo and junior Drew Pettit each had a team-high two hits on the day with Pettit reaching base in three of his four plate appearances. Senior Will Chomicki and Russo scored the two Canisius runs in the game with senior Sean Jamieson and freshman Jose Torralba driving in the Canisius runs.
Siena (28-29) jumped on Canisius starter Alex Tufts in the first inning, scoring the only three runs it would need to win the game. Vincent Citro had a one-out single and after a walk to Dan Paolini, Kevin Quaranto hit a ground-rule double to right-center to score Citro and give Siena the quick 1-0 lead. An RBI single from Mike Fish and a sacrifice fly from Adam Guinn put the Saints up 3-0 after one.
The Griffs got on the board in the third as Russo led off the inning with a single. The Canisius catcher moved up to second on a wild pitch and after a walk to Chomicki, the senior duo executed a double steal to put two runners in scoring position with one out. Torralba hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field that scored Russo easily and sent Chomicki to third. Jamieson followed with a drive to right-center but John Rooney made a diving stop to end the Canisius rally and keep it a 3-1 game.
Siena had a chance to extend its lead in each of the middle innings but Canisius made a number of solid defensive plays to stay in the game. In the fourth, the Saints got runners to second and third with one out. Redshirt junior Tim Seil, who came into the game to start the second inning, got a grounder to Jamieson at short with the infield drawn in to hold the runners and record the second out of the inning. Seil then got a fly ball to Chomicki in left to keep it a 3-1 game. The Saints had the leadoff runner reach in the fifth, but a sharply hit groundball to the left-side of second base was snagged by Jamieson, who turned the 6-3 double play. In the sixth, Siena had runners at first and second with two outs when Rooney sent a fly ball to deep left field. Chomicki made a running catch to end the inning. In the seventh, Seil got a grounder back up the middle off the bat of Quaranto. The ball went off of Seil's leg and knocked the pitcher down for a split-second. Seil got up, gathered the ball and made a diving flip to first baseball Brian Burton for the second out of the inning.
Canisius got runners on base in each of the last three innings. Sophomore Chris Gruarin drew a four-pitch walk to start the seventh. Russo sent a softly hit groundball to short and Citro retired Gruarin at second by a half step for the first out of the inning. Freshman Ryan Coppinger then hit a line drive right at the third baseman, Mike Allen, who caught the ball dead in his stance, right off the grass and threw across the diamond to easily double off Russo to end the inning.
Canisius scored its second run in the eighth as Chomicki led off with a double down the left-field line. He moved to third on a grounder from Torralba and scored on a sacrifice fly from Jamieson that made the score 3-2. The Griffs mounted one final rally in the ninth as Pettit was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and freshman Shane Zimmer singled through the right side to put runners at first and second with no outs. Closer Ryan Poplawski came into the game in relief of Justin Brantley after a first-pitch ball to Gruarin. Before Poplawski threw a pitch to the plate, the Saints perfectly executed a pickoff play at second base. The shortstop, Citro, was behind the bag, then took off down the base line toward third base. The second baseman came from behind and Poplawski threw to Paolini who applied the tag on Pettit for the first out of the inning. Poplawski then got Gruarin to fly out for the second out of the ninth. Russo extended the game with a two-out single up the middle to move pinch runner Nat Barone into scoring position at second base. Poplawski would strike out Coppinger looking on a 1-2 pitch on the outside corner to close out the game.
Tufts (4-4) took the loss as the junior allowed three runs on three hits in one inning of work. Seil threw seven inningsof shutout relief, allowing just four hits. Brantley (6-6) earned the winn, allowing two runs on six hits in eight innings.
Notes: A pair of freshmen — Torralba (5-for-12, 2 RBI) and Garrett Cortright (7.1 IP, 3 ER, win) — were named to the All-Tournament Team... Canisius and Siena met for the second time in the postseason, with the Saints defeating Canisius in an elimination game both times (2008)... The 3-2 loss was the 26th one-run game of the season for the Griffs as they were 9-17 in such games... All three MAAC Championship games for the Griffs were decided by one run.