The Canisius baseball team clinched the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular-season title and locked up the No. 1 seed in next week’s MAAC Championship with a 15-4 win over Monmouth University at the Demske Sports Complex on Thursday afternoon.
The Golden Griffins win the regular-season title for the fourth time in program history and third time in the last seven years. Canisius also extends the nation’s longest winning streak to 14 games.
The first game in the MAAC Tournament for Canisius will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 21, against the lowest-seeded winner from the first two games of the day.
Senior Jimmy Luppens and sophomore Brett Siddall each posted four hits on the day with Siddall scoring two runs and driving in three while Luppens scored three times and had two RBI. Senior Jose Torralba and juniors Mike Krische and Connor Panas each reached base three times.
Sophomore Alex Godzak went six innings and allowed three runs (all unearned). The lefty yielded six hits and struck out six to win for the fifth consecutive start. Junior Brandon Bielecki pitched the final three innings for his fifth save of the season.
Monmouth (22-21, 12-8 MAAC) loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first with three singles and Godzak appeared to get out of the jam with a fly ball to right. Siddall dropped a fly ball in right that allowed all three runs to score. The Griffs got one back in the bottom of the first with an opposite-field, one-out double from Luppens that began a stretch of 14 consecutive runs for Canisius.
Luppens led off the bottom of the third with a single up the middle, and Siddall beat out an infield single to short. Panas was hit by a pitch to load the bases with nobody out. Senior Shane Zimmer and junior Jesse Puscheck followed with sacrifice flies to tie the game at 3-3.
The Griffs took the lead the fifth as Luppens again led off with a single up the middle and Siddall laced a stand-up triple into the gap in right-center to put Canisius ahead 4-3. Panas followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Griffs a two-run lead.
Canisius broke the game open by scoring nine runs and sending 15 batters to the plate, both season highs, in the bottom of the sixth inning that took 37 minutes. The inning started when sophomore Anthony Massicci reached on a dropped popup. Luppens singled through the hole on the right side for his fourth hit of the day to put two runners on for Siddall. The sophomore sent a double to the gap in left-center for his fourth hit of the day and gave Canisius the 7-3 lead. After a sacrifice bunt from Zimmer, the next eight Canisius batters reached base.
Puscheck sent a sharp grounder to second base with the infield drawn in, and pinch runner Ryan Coppinger beat the throw home. Krische dropped a double down the right-field line to score Panas. Freshman Christ Conley bounced a single over the drawn-in infield to score both runners. Walks to senior Jose Torralba and Massicci loaded the bases, with another walk to Luppens forcing home a run. Coppinger turned on the 2-0 pitch and ripped a double down the right-field line to make it 14-3.
The second game of the doubleheader was postponed due to impending weather. The teams will conclude the series with a doubleheader on Friday, with first pitch set for noon. Senior Day activities will take place prior to the start of the first game.
Notes: Canisius and Monmouth played for the first time… Canisius now has 14 home wins on the season, tied for the second-most in program history and trailing the record 15 home wins from the 1994 season… Canisius has scored 13 or more runs in three straight games for the first time since May 2-8, 2010… Canisius batted around for the 21st time… The four hits for Siddall were a new career high and extended his career-long hitting streak to 10 games… All 15 runs were scored with zero or one out.