LAKEWOOD, N.J. – The Siena baseball team was able to come out of the loser’s bracket of the 2014 MAAC Baseball Championship and win four games in a little over 30 hours to secure the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament, capped with a 5-1 win over Canisius Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Park in Lakewood, N.J. The Saints (26-31) will learn their regional opponent and destination on Monday at noon when the NCAA officially releases this year’s tournament field live on ESPNU.
For Canisius (40-16), Sunday marks the second time in the last three years where the program has lost both games in the championship round of the double-elimination tournament The Griffs, who started the day with the nation’s longest winning streak with 18-straight wins, saw that come to an end when Siena scored five times in the eighth winning to record a 6-5 victory, forcing the winner-take-all final game. Canisius pounded out nine hits in the game two loss, but the Blue and Gold left 11 runners on base and committed two early errors that allowed the Saints to jump out to an early 1-0 lead.
Siena added a pair of runs in the third on back-to-back doubles by Justin Esquerra and John Rooney. Rooney’s double, his ninth of the season, allowed Esquerra and Mike Allen to score to give the Saints a 3-0 cushion. The Griffs cut the Saints’ hold to 3-1 in the top-half of the sixth. Senior Jimmy Luppens started the frame off with a double to right center and he later advanced to third on a groundout by junior Connor Panas. After a Siena pitching change that saw starter Taylor Ahearn head to the dugout, Luppens raced home on a wild pitch by reliever Matt Quintana. Canisius had two runners on with two outs in the sixth, but Quintana worked himself out of that jam by inducing a ground ball out to end the Blue and Gold’s threat.
Siena regained a three-run lead in the home-half of the sixth on a RBI-single to left by MAAC Rookie of the Year Dan Swain. Canisius would leave the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, their best chance to score runs late in the game. The Saints added an insurance run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Dave Hoffman to make the score 5-1.
Three Siena pitchers gave up just one run and scattered nine hits in the second game, with Ahearn earning the win to move to 2-2 on the season. Canisius starter Rohn Pierce went the distance for the Griffs. He allowed five runs, four earned, on 11 hits to go with two strikeouts in the loss. His record drops to 11-3 on the season.
Sophomore Anthony Massicci had three hits in the losing effort for Canisius, which included a double. Senior Jose Torralba and Luppens also had two-base hits in the game for the Griffs, while Siena’s Vincent Citro went 3-for-4 with a run scored in the winning cause for the Saints.
Massicci (9-for-15, six runs scored) and Luppens (7-for-15, .600 OBP) earned All-Tournament Team honors.
Notes: The Griffs posted 40 wins for the third time in program history. Marist in 2002 is the only other MAAC team to have 40 wins in a season... Canisius played in the championship round for the fifth time in six years… Canisius and Siena met in the MAAC Championship for the fourth time in the last seven years… Canisius was swept in a doubleheader for just the second time this season… Senior Shane Zimmer worked a walk in the opener and matched Kevin Mahoney for most in a career (116)… Luppens was hit by a pitch twice in the opener and broke the program record with 25 HBP on the season.