The Canisius baseball team took both games from rival Niagara University at the Demske Sports Complex on Saturday. The Golden Griffins rallied for a 4-3 walk-off win in the opener and then cruised to a 22-1 victory in the nightcap to improve to 36-13 overall and 13-7 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.
Game One — Canisius 4, Niagara 3
Niagara (16-34, 9-14 MAAC) scored the first three runs of the game, starting with an RBI triple from Jordan Schwartz in the first inning. In the third, an RBI double from Ryan McCauley and an RBI single from Greg Rodgers gave Niagara the 3-0 lead. The Griffs got on the board in the fourth on an RBI single from sophomore Mike Krische. Canisius made it a one-run game in the fifth on a two-out, solo homer from senior Brooklyn Foster.
The Griffs rallied in the ninth, starting with a leadoff walk from junior Ronnie Bernick. Junior Ryan Coppinger beat out an infield single to shortstop to get the first two runners on base. Sophomore Connor Panas dropped down a bunt to third base, beating out the throw with the throw getting away and allowing pinch runner Jose Torralba to score and knot the score at 3-3. Junior Jimmy Luppens threw lined a single to center field to score Coppinger, giving Luppens his second walk-off hit of the season and the Griffs their third walk-off win of the season.
Sophomore Garrett Cortright (10-2) threw his fourth complete game of the season, allowing three runs on eight hits and striking out five. Cortright needed 97 pitches and only gave up two hits in the final six innings.
Game Two – Canisius 22, Niagara 1
Nine Golden Griffins recorded hits, nine players had at least one RBI and 10 Griffs scored at least one run in the nightcap. Canisius scored in five of their six at-bats, plating at least two runs in each of those five innings.
The Griffs loaded the bases with no outs in the first, but Schwartz got Foster to hit into a double play to get two outs but senior Christian Segar scored to make it 1-0. Panas scored later in the inning on the first of five Niagara errors in the game. Canisius broke the game open in the second inning, scoring eight runs and sending 13 batters to the plate. Foster had the big hit, a grand slam to center field. Krische also had a two-RBI double as the Griffs went up by 10 runs. The Griffs added two runs in the third on a sacrifice fly from senior Chris Gruarin and an RBI double from Torralba.
Canisius had another big inning with seven runs in the fourth on just three hits. Luppens had an RBI single, Segar had a two-RBI single and senior Manny Hernandez and freshman Brett Siddall forced home runs after being hit by a pitch as eight Griffs were hit by a pitch in the game. The Griffs scored three more runs in the sixth, getting an RBI double from Siddall, an RBI single from Segar and an RBI groundout from Panas.
Freshman Alex Godzak (8-2) threw six shutout innings to win for the third consecutive start. Godzak allowed four hits and walked one while striking out three.
Canisius and Niagara will conclude the three-game series on Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m.
Notes: The 22 runs scored by the Griffs are the most scored by a MAAC team this season… The 21-run victory is tied for the eighth-largest win by a Division I team this season… The 22 runs scored are the most since the Griffs scored 24 against Buffalo on March 7, 2012… The 21-run margin of victory is the biggest by the Griffs in a MAAC game in program history and matches the biggest win (23-2 over Hilbert on April 26, 1994) since 1980.
The grand slam from Foster was the first by a Golden Griffin since Drew Pettit at Kentucky on March 9, 2012... Canisius broke the program record for hit by pitch in a season and now has 108 HBPs on the season... The Griffs have now batted around 20 times on the season, matching a season-high with 13 batters in the second inning. Canisius has batted around 10 times in the last 17 games… Godzak has not allowed a run in his last 17.1 innings pitched… Sophomore Sean Ritter made his first appearance for the Golden Griffins, pinch-hitting in the sixth inning of the second game… Canisius takes the series from Niagara for the seventh consecutive season… Canisius has won 10 of its last 11 home games… The Griffs improve to 35-12 in MAAC series during the last six seasons… Canisius now holds a 77-76 lead in the all-time series with Niagara, holding a lead in the series for the first time since April 16, 2001… The Griffs have 12 walk-off wins in their last 77 victories at the Demske Sports Complex.