The Canisius baseball team concluded the regular-season by extending the nation’s longest winning streak with a doubleheader sweep of Monmouth University at the Demske Sports Complex on Senior Day on Friday. The Golden Griffins won 9-2 and 16-4 to finish the regular season on a 16-game winning streak and with a 38-14 overall record and 20-4 record in conference play.
Canisius posted 16 home wins during the 2014 season, besting the program record of 15 home wins from the 1994 season. Canisius also set a program record with the 20 conference wins and became the second MAAC team to win 20 league games since the team switched to a 24-game schedule in 2008, joining the 2011 Manhattan team.
Canisius opens play in the 2014 MAAC Tournament on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J. The top-seeded Golden Griffins will face the lowest-seeded winner of the two games (No. 3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5) from earlier in the day. The final seedings for the six-team, double-elimination tournament will be set as regular-season play concludes this weekend.
Game One – Canisius 9, Monmouth 2
Monmouth got on the board with an RBI double down the right-field line from Danny Avella in the top of the first. The Griffs answered right back, as sophomore Anthony Massicci was hit by a pitch and senior Jesse Kelso walked. Senior Jimmy Luppens sent a bleeder into right-center that scored Massicci and tied the game. Sophomore Brett Siddall then laced a ground-rule double to the gap in right center that scored Kelso and gave the Griffs the lead.
Canisius continued to hit Monmouth starter Chris McKenna hard in the second inning, which started with a ground-rule double to left-center from freshman Christ Conley. After a sacrifice bunt from senior Ronnie Bernick, Massicci doubled to left-center to make it 3-1. Kelso followed with a perfect bunt single up the third-base line to put runners at the corners. With Kelso running on the pitch, Luppens singled through the right side, and both runners scored to put the Griffs up by four runs. Siddall popped out, but a single from junior Connor Panas chased McKenna from the game.
Canisius broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the fourth as the Griffs loaded the bases without a hit, using an HBP and two walks. Panas brought home Kelso on a fielder’s choice. After junior Jesse Puscheck was hit by a pitch to load the bases, pinch-hitter Shane Zimmer singled to center to score Luppens and Panas. An RBI single from Conley made it 9-1.
Junior Devon Stewart (6-5) won his second straight start by allowing two runs on six hits in six innings. Freshman Zachary Sloan pitched a scoreless seventh inning.
Luppens went 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBI. Conley went 2-for-3 with a walk while Kelso scored three runs after going 1-for-2 with a walk and HBP.
Game Two – Canisius 16, Monmouth 4
The Griffs scored first for the first time of the series as senior Jose Torralba led off with a walk, moved to second on a groundout, stole third and scored on a chopper from Luppens that bounced out of the third baseman’s glove. Canisius added another run in the second as Bernick worked a one-out walk and eventually scored on a triple from Kelso down the right-field line to make it 2-0.
After Monmouth (22-23, 12-10 MAAC) scored a run in the top of the third, the Griffs pushed the lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the inning on a three-run homer from freshman Jake Lumley. Panas and Zimmer were hit by a pitch on consecutive pitches before Lumley hit his first collegiate homer over the right-field fence.
Freshman Zachary Trumpler made his first conference start for the Griffs and went three-plus innings. Trumpler induced groundballs for inning-ending double plays in the first two innings. Trumpler left the game in the fourth after putting the first two runners on base, but senior Mike Tolsma relieved the freshman and stranded both inherited runners to maintain the Griffs’ lead.
A leadoff homer in the fourth from Kelso put the Griffs up 6-1. Canisius then broke the game open by sending 10 batters to the plate in the fifth and scoring six runs. Bernick forced home a run when being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Torralba added an RBI single while Siddall and Panas each had two-RBI singles to make it 12-1.
Bernick went 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two RBI while hitting his first homer of the season. Kelso, Torralba and Lumley each posted three hits with Torralba scoring three runs and Lumley posting three RBI
Five Canisius pitchers threw in the second game for the Griffs. Trumpler (1-0) allowed one run on three hits in his three innings while Tolsma threw three shutout innings. Senior Tyler Soucie, junior Eric Stolzenburg and sophomore Iannick Remillard each threw an inning of relief.
Notes: Carolina and Kennesaw State each posted a 16-game winning streak earlier this season… Canisius batted around in the fifth inning of the second game, sending at least nine batters to the plate for the 22nd time this season… Canisius has scored at least nine runs in five straight games for the second time this season… Canisius completed its eighth series sweep of the year… The Griffs have now won eight straight games four times in 2014, the most in the country… Canisius finished MAAC play by outscoring its opponents by 4.4 runs per game. Fairfield is second-best in the MAAC at 1.8 runs per game.