Baseball prepares for MAAC opener against Fairfield

 

Conley_AtBat.jpg

Christ Conley and the Canisius baseball team will welcome Fairfield to ring in the MAAC season this weekend. (Marshall Haim/The Griffin file photo)

 

By Nolan Hopkins

Assistant Sports Editor

The Canisius baseball team walked away from their 17-game, month-long season-opening road trip with a record of 11-6.  

The Griffs wrapped up their largest non-conference portion of their schedule losing two out of three games to West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va. this past weekend.

The Mountaineers stole the first game of the series Mar. 16 by way of a walk-off  RBI single, winning 10-9. In the second game of the three-game set, the Griffs bats were dormant at the plate, as a first inning West Virginia home run would be the difference in a 2-0 affair.

In the series finale, junior outfielder Canice Ejoh drove in two runs and senior pitcher J.P. Stevenson gave up two earned runs in seven innings of work, leading the Griffs to a victory, 4-3.

“We took advantage of some miscues they had on the mound and we got the right hit at the right time,” said head coach Matt Mazurek. “Another strong start out of JP and then our bullpen did what we needed it do.”

With the seasons changing and the winter weather slowly dissipating from Western New York, the Griffs will welcome Fairfield to Demske Sports Complex this weekend for their first home series of the season.

Last season, Fairfield and Canisius earned the first and second seeds in the conference tournament, respectively. Fairfield currently sits at 5-11 this season.

Canisius enters conference play with the top overall record in the MAAC and leads all conference teams in ERA (4.57), runs scored (108) and home runs (12).

“We should be there (top of the conference) with the talent that we have, the veteran leadership we have, and the work that we put in. I’ll say this up until it happens, but we haven’t even clicked on all facets of the game at the same time yet,” said Mazurek. “When it all comes together it’s going to be fun to watch, and I think those numbers can improve based on where we’re going.”

The Griffs have played in the postseason MAAC championship each of the last seven seasons, taking home the conference title in 2015. In addition to this, the Blue and Gold have won 16 games in conference play each of the last three seasons.

A handful of the players on the current roster were also on the team for the success of previous seasons. This includes senior infielder Ryan Stekl, who believes this experience will help the team when it comes to conference play.

“A lot of people are going to have confidence because we have been there before and done that,” said Stekl. “We play well and going against these teams, we have seen a lot of these pitchers before, so hopefully that helps us, and our pitchers have seen these hitters before so hopefully that points us in the right direction.”

With the success of the program in recent years, along with the hot start to this season, Stekl understands that the team will have a target on their back heading into their conference schedule.

“Everyone gets up to play us, so every single game is a grind and we have to rise to that occasion,” said Stekl.

Canisius opens up conference play Saturday with a doubleheader against Fairfield at Demske Sports Complex, with game one scheduled for 2:30 p.m. The series concludes on Sunday at noon.

 

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