Griffs showcase their offensive prowess to maintain relevance

By Aaron Rispoli
Assistant Sports Editor

One way to put one in the win column in baseball is to put 23 runs on the board. Last Sunday, that’s exactly what the Griffs did as they put on an offensive display for the ages versus Saint Peters.  With their freshman lefty J.P. Stevenson on the bump, they slugged their way to a 23-0 victory where the Griffs saw top to bottom production from their lineup. Canisius had lost their last three of four before the batters put Saint Peter’s pitchers to shame in the Sunday series finale.

Canisius has proven time and time again that they have a stout offense.  Their relatively lackluster record of 17-20 (8-4 in conference play) can be largely accredited to their struggles on the mound and yet they find themselves tied for second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference behind Rider (5-1). After dropping the first game of the series, Canisius came back to win the next game 8-3; spurred by Devon Stewart’s three runs allowed (two earned) in seven innings of work. On Sunday, the Griffs showed why their slow start should not worry the Canisius faithful. The team collected 21 hits en route to a decisive victory. The triumvirate of Jake Lumley, this week’s MAAC player of the week, Brett Sedal, and Jesse Puschek combined for 15 RBI. Both Lumley and Siddall were also one hit away from the cycle, as Lumley needed a triple and Puscheck the homerun. Stevenson, honored with MAAC pitcher of the week, went eight strong innings where he allowed only four hits and managed to strike out six opposing batters. Tyler Vavra came on to close the game out in his fifth appearance of the season, allowing one hit.

Saint Peter’s Kevin Soriano has seen better days as he only managed to go 1.1 innings, allowing five hits and seven earned runs before Jason Midkiff came on in relief to stop the bleeding but not before walking three batters in 1.1 innings. Five other pitchers entered the game for the Peacocks and combined for 6.1 innings, allowed 16 hits, 16 runs, 10 earned.

The Griff’s offensive prowess is truly remarkable. They rank nationally among Division I baseball programs in walks (12th), OBP (47th), runs (39th), stolen bases (58th) and slugging percentage (95th) with their sluggers Connor Panas and Lumley ranked nationally in doubles and triples, respectively. The Griffs are leading the MAAC in batting average, hits, doubles, triples, and homeruns. Canisius is also second in stolen bases behind Niagara.

Canisius is on a three game winning streak after beating Buffalo at Audobon field on Wednesday afternoon. A five run rally in the seventh inning propelled the Griffs to victory as Canisius improved to 17-20 and the Bulls dropped to 10-19 overall. There is certainly not a dearth of runs for the Griffs but quality pitching is still hard to come by. Canisius’ pitching struggles has been well documented this season. Canisius is a team that has scored 237 runs in 37 games, yet they give up just as many runs as they score (234). In other words, the Griffs can’t seem to get out of their own way as they have pitched and defended their way out of several games.

If their recent play is any indication of what’s to come, however, the Griffs are in very good shape. In their last four games, they are averaging just 3.5 runs and are tearing the cover off the ball. For such a talented team, mediocrity shouldn’t be their standard form; rather it should be an anomaly that every team goes through in the course of a season.

The Griffs are 3-1 so far on their road trip that will take them into May. They will head to Virginia for a weekend series against George Mason (14-19-1). The last these two teams met, the Griffs fell 13-3 in the Lexington County Tournament. The Canisius pitching staff will have their hands full as they will have to pitch to the Patriots star outfielder, Luke Willis. Willis is batting .361/.500/.449 and can wreak havoc on the basepaths as he leads the Patriots with 19 stolen bases in 23 attempts.

George Mason is batting .286/.396/.373 as a team to the Griff’s .273/.400/.380. The pitching seems to be evenly matched as well with the Patriot’s 215 runs allowed to the Griff’s 234 runs. The Canisius faithful should be prepared for a slugfest between two first-rate offenses. If a slugfest is to come, one should be confident in the Griff’s chances to fare well this weekend.



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