The Canisius baseball team opened the month of May with a doubleheader sweep at Quinnipiac University on Saturday afternoon, clinching a key series with the Bobcats (15-23, 10-5 MAAC). The Golden Griffins won 5-0 and 4-2 to improve to 30-14 on the season and 13-4 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, moving into a tie with Siena for first place in the conference standings.
Canisius extends its winning streak to eight games for the third time this season. The Golden Griffins also post a 30-win season for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
Game One — Canisius 5, Quinnipiac 0
Junior Rohn Pierce went eight shutout innings, not allowing a run for the second consecutive start and for the fourth time this season. Pierce (9-2) allowed three hits and walked two while striking out five. Combined with a scoreless ninth inning from senior Mike Tolsma, the Griffs didn’t allow Quinnipiac to get a baserunner past second base.
Canisius jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the top of the first, taking advantage of walks to sophomores Anthony Massicci and senior Brett Siddall. Junior Connor Panas had a two-out, two-RBI double to center to score both runners.
The Griffs extended their lead in the seventh with another two-out rally. Senior Jose Torralba went the opposite way with a one-out double down the right-field line, and senior Shane Zimmer worked a two-out walk. Siddall then laced a double to right to score Torralba and make it 3-0. Panas delivered another two-out, two-RBI hit with a single through the right side to put the Griffs up by five runs.
Panas went 4-fo-4, matching his career high in hits while driving in a career-high four runs. Torralba reached base three times with two doubles and a HBP out of the leadoff spot in the order.
Game Two – Canisius 4, Quinnipiac 2
Quinnipiac scored two runs in the bottom of the first off sophomore Alex Godzak, the only inning of 16 opportunities that the Bobcats would score runs in the doubleheader. The Bobcats continued to apply pressure early in the game by getting runners on base in each of the next three innings, but Quinnipiac couldn’t cash in to extend its lead.
Senior Jesse Kelso hit his first homer of the season in the top of the second to cut the lead in half and end a 10-game streak without a home run by the Golden Griffins. That was the first home run allowed by a Quinnipiac pitcher in a conference game (121.2 innings). Quinnipiac starter Justin Thomas retired seven straight Canisius batters to maintain the one-run lead after four innings.
Canisius loaded the bases with one out in the fifth after Kelso was hit by a pitch and junior Mike Krische and Torralba worked walks. Thomas struck out Massicci and Zimmer flew out to left to leave the bases loaded.
Canisius broke through in the sixth as Siddall led off with a single and Panas hammered a home run to right field, his team-leading fourth homer of the year, to give the Griffs a 3-2 lead.
Quinnipiac used a leadoff single and sacrifice bunt to get the tying run into scoring position with one out in the sixth. Godzak would get a grounder to Massicci at short, who gunned down the lead runner at third for the second out of the inning. Quinnipiac wouldn’t threaten the rest of the game as Godzak retired the final four batters.
Canisius added an insurance run in the seventh on a Quinnipiac error.
Godzak (7-3) threw his fourth complete game of the season, allowing two runs on six hits, walking two and striking out four to win for the third consecutive start.
Canisius and Quinnipiac will complete the three-game series on Sunday, with first pitch set for noon.
Notes: Prior to Saturday’s second game, the Griffs hadn’t hit a home run since April 13, against Siena… The shutout in game one was the fourth of the year by the Canisius pitching staff… Torralba extended his consecutive games streak of reaching base to 13 games… Prior to 2008 (first year with at least 30 wins), Canisius had never won 30 games in a season… Zimmer posted three walks on the day and now has 111 in his career, five short of tying the program record… Pierce’s nine wins rank as the third-most in a season in program history and his 90.2 innings pitched are the eighth-most.