Griffs pick up wins over Quinnipiac and Niagara

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Tyler Smith had a 10-out save in the Griffs’ win over Quinnipiac on Sunday. (Tom Wolf/Canisius College)

By Nolan Hopkins

Assistant Sports Editor

The baseball team finished off a busy five-game homestand this past week with victories over Quinnipiac and Niagara, 8-5 and 17-10, respectively.

After being held to just five runs in last Saturday’s doubleheader against Quinnipiac, the Griffs’ bats woke up from their day-long slumber to score eight runs in the series finale on Sunday.

Senior Ryan Stekl put Canisius on the board in the first frame with a bases-clearing triple in the right-center field gap.

“I got to a 1-2 count, and I just had to battle,” Stekl said. “He left me a pitch that I could hit and I hit it in the gap — it was a big boost for us.”

A Conner Morro squeeze bunt would plate the Griffs’ fourth run of the inning, and another run would cross by way of a fielder’s choice off of the bat of Brett Migliore, giving the Griffs the lead after one inning, 5-0.  

In the third inning, the Blue and Gold added a run to their lead after outfielder Jake Burlingame’s double scored Christ Conley from second base.

In the fourth inning, Stekl scored Gage Lanning on an RBI single, Stekl’s third hit on the afternoon stretching the lead, 7-0.

In the fifth frame, Quinnipiac would get two runs back on Canisius starting pitcher Andrew Sipowicz, as the Bobcats’ Andre Marrero plated two runs on a double down the left field line.

Head coach Matt Mazurek dipped into the bullpen three times in the top of the sixth inning, as the Bobcats tagged Canisius for three runs. Quinnipiac only tallied one hit in the inning but scored all three runs off of a bases-loaded walk, and two bases-loaded hit batters.

Closer Tyler Smith came on to strike out Quinnipiac’s clean-up hitter Liam Scafariello with the bases loaded to end the threat. The Griffs led after the top half of the sixth, 7-5.

The Griffs would add an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth, and Smith would shut down the Bobcat offense for the series finale victory, 8-5.

Smith threw 3⅓ innings and recorded the 10-out save, while striking out eight batters. Although it was an extended outing for the senior reliever, his preparation did not change.

“It’s not really any different [getting prepared earlier in the game], you’re still coming out in the backend of the game, trying to close it out and keep your team in it while trying to hold the other guys off,” Smith said. “Once you get on the mound it’s just me versus the hitter and it’s a competition every pitch, every batter, so everything kind of stays the same.”

Sipowicz recorded the victory, improving to 6-1 on the year, and Stekl recorded his sixth three-hit game of the year.

The Blue and Gold then welcomed rival Niagara to Demske Sports Complex Wednesday, where they picked up the win on a rainy afternoon, 17-10. Canisius avenged a 10-1 loss to Kent State from the day prior.

Niagara jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning off of a Peter Battaglia RBI double, and a run-scoring single by Owen Dziados.

The Griffs would get one run back in the bottom half of the frame after Cyrus Senior launched a triple into the right field gap, and came around to score after Niagara bobbled the relay throw.

Offense was in abundance during the entirety of the four-hour long ball game, but error-free baseball in the field propelled the Griffs to the victory.

The Purple Eagles’ eight errors led to eight runs scored for Canisius, effectively turning out to be the difference in the contest.

Liam Wilson, Lanning, Morro, and Migliore each collected two RBIs apiece, and Stephen Bennett drove in three runs on the day.

It was a team effort on the mound for the squad, as only one pitcher, Jared Kennedy logged more than two innings of work, tossing three innings.

The Griffs (22-15 overall, 10-5 MAAC) travel to take on Rider (10-24, 5-6 MAAC). The first pitch for game one of tomorrow’s twinbill is set for noon.

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