Still putting the pieces together

by Aaron Rispoli

Assistant Sports Editor

The Canisius baseball team has seemingly picked up the pace the past few weeks, winning five of their last seven, their most recent being the victory over the cross-town rival University at Buffalo Bulls. They will go on the road for their next five games as they look to cut the two game lead that first place Quinnipiac has over them in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference standings.  Though the Griffs, at 19-22, have showcased their ability to play quality baseball, they have lacked the consistency of a championship team.

Coach Mike McRae echoed that sentiment when he described the team’s play as “erratic”.  The Griffs will pitch and then they won’t hit, they’ll hit but then they won’t field, and so the Griffs remain an enigma of sorts. “We’ve struggled to put together all three phases together; offense, pitching and defense.” The Griffs need help from somewhere, as depth remains a weakness for the Griffs. “In the past we have been really deep. When somebody was struggling or if someone got hurt, we were able to recover. This year we’ve had some injuries that plagued us; guys who just aren’t ready yet. We don’t have the depth that we’ve had in years past but we know that we can play better.” And now the Griffs find themselves, in contention, but unable to make the next jump that would propel them over the Bobcats. This reminded me of one very frigid winter night in this past January when I needed that extra bit of support.

Yes, I am from Rochester, NY and indeed, I spend the majority of the year in Buffalo. No, despite having a license for three winters now, I still have not invested in snow tires. You see I am from a suburb of Rochester where unlike our neighbors in Buffalo, our roads are always plowed.

Usually I am able to limit the amount of driving I do in the winter and thus am able to make it into the spring unscathed; saving myself a couple hundred bucks. This winter would prove to be different, as the snow coated all of Western New York and left us to survive in tundra-like conditions.

One winter night, I was looking for parking on Blaine.  I was driving towards the corner of Blaine and Meech when I noticed someone had decided to double-park. Fuming, directing every ounce of profanity to that car and to this hypothetical person I envisioned in my head. He probably wore Birkenstocks and drink kale smoothies; my least favorite type of person. I pulled into a driveway with the intention of turning around, as my SUV would never be able to squeeze past the double-parked car. I put the car in reverse and I pressed on the gas only to hear the wheels spinning but the car remaining idle. I pressed on the gas even harder but to no avail. I drove forward and then backwards and still there was no progress. I had a friend with me who tried to push my car but his feeble attempts were of no help as I found myself stuck in a snow bank, wishing I had purchased snow tires.

As I sat in my car sulking at my misfortune and stupidity, right on cue came Alex Godzak of the baseball team, walking down Meech. He asked if we needed help and I conceded; cold and impotent, I obliged. Godzak dropped his backpack in the snow and much like the leadership he’s shown on the field, he took charge and counted down from three.  The wheels began spinning; I could feel my car slowly gaining traction as Godzak’s efforts proved to be enough. My car was free from the grip that the Buffalo winter had on her, and Godzak continued on his way. His noble effort may have been a minor inconvenience for him but for me, I garnered a great deal of respect for Godzak. Now, my predicament seems to make for a good analogy for the Griff’s season.

Much like my vehicle, Canisius has the ability to be better, but they fail to help themselves. McRae was quick to point out the team’s defensive blunders, “Our defense has been atrocious. If you look at the statistics, in the league, we are atop of the league in batting average against (BAA), we are atop of the league in least amount of walks allowed. You combined those two things and we should have the best pitching in the league. Unfortunately, we’ve given up too many runs on the defensive side of the ball.” But much like my vehicle on that cold winter’s night, the Griffs seem to be lacking that small shove into the right direction.

As I incessantly tried to reverse my way out of the snow bank, I did not anticipate my saving grace to come in the form of Alex Godzak. Who will provide that extra shove, that jolt of energy for the Griffs going into the last chunk of the season?  The Griffs have 15 games remaining in the regular season; ample time for the team to catapult themselves to yet another MAAC regular season title.  Godzak believes that now is the time to showcase the Griff’s abilities. “It’s crunch time, we have to lock in and really focus. We have to keep our eyes on the prize and that prize is the MAAC Championship.” The baseball season has just begun.

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