The Canisius College baseball team used two strong starting pitching performances and a couple of multi-run innings to take both games of a conference doubleheader at Saint Peter's on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Griffins won 6-3 and 10-1 to improve to 19-18 and 7-1 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Game One - Canisius 6, Saint Peter's 3
After Saint Peter's (12-22, 3-5 MAAC) took the early lead with a run in the bottom of the first, Canisius tied the game in the fourth and took the lead in the fifth by scoring single runs in each inning. Freshman Connor Panas reached on a one-out single in the fourth, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Panas scored easily on a two-out, RBI double from junior Brooklyn Foster. The Griffs took the lead in the fifth when junior Manny Hernandez led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single from sophomore Ryan Coppinger to give Canisius the 2-1 lead.
The Griffs broke the game open in the seventh, scoring four runs with three of them being unearned. After Coppinger drew a one-out walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch, sophomore Jose Torralba brought him home with an opposite-field RBI single. Canisius would take advantage of a Saint Peter's error as junior Chris Gruarin reached on a fielder's choice when the Peacocks attempted to retire Torralba at second. The error put runners at the corners and sophomore Shane Zimmer dropped down a bunt to score Torralba and make it 4-1. After a four-pitch walk to senior Drew Pettit, Panas broke the game open with a two-RBI double to right-center and gave Canisius the five-run lead.
Saint Peter's got two runs in the eighth but the trio of sophomore Garrett Cortright, junior Jason Rubenstein and sophomore Jon Fitzsimmons limited the Peacocks to three runs on the day. Cortright (4-4) got the win, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings while walking zero and striking out nine. Fitzsimmons picked up his eighth save of the season, setting the program's single-season record.
Game Two - Canisius 10, Saint Peter's 1
Canisius scored three runs in the third inning to take the lead in the second game. Freshman Mike Krische led off with a double and after Krische stole third, a walk to Torralba put runners at the corners. Gruarin singled to left field, scoring Krische, and a Saint Peter's error allowed Torralba to score and put Gruarin on second base. Gruarin moved up to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI groundout from Zimmer.
The Peacocks got on the board with back-to-back two-out hits in the fourth, but Canisius got that run right back in the top of the fifth. Gruarin led off with a double and scored on a single from Zimmer. Canisius extended the lead to 5-1 in the sixth as Coppinger doubled to left with one out and moved to third on a groundout. After a walk to Krische put runners at the corners, the duo executed a double steal to give Canisius the four-run lead.
The Griffs broke the game open with a five-run top of the seventh, highlighted by an RBI single from Foster and a three-run, opposite-field homer from Coppinger.
Freshman Devon Stewart (3-1) went the distance, allowing one run on six hits while walking one to record the victory on 79 pitches.
Canisius and Saint Peter's conclude the three-game series on Sunday, with first pitch set for noon.
Notes: Fitzsimmons broke the single-season saves record of Ryan McGorman (2008) and Shayne Willson (2010)... Cortright set a career high with the nine strikeouts and had six or more strikeouts for the fifth time this season... Canisius has now won seven straight and 15 of the last 16 against Saint Peter's... Canisius was the last team in the conference to record a complete game by a starting pitcher this season... Stewart has walked three batters in his last four starts (26.2 innings)... Coppinger hit his first homer of the season and third of his career.