Courtesy of GoGriffs.com
A six-run outburst in the top of the ninth and 4.2 strong innings of relief pitching by sophomore Will Frank helped lead the Canisius baseball team to an 11-3 win over Quinnipiac Thursday afternoon in the second round of the 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island, N.Y.
With the win, the team’s six straight, the Golden Griffins (33-20) advance to meet MAAC regular-season champion Monmouth Friday at noon. The winner of that game will advance to the MAAC Baseball Championship game, which is set for Saturday at noon. The loss sends Quinnipiac (25-29) to the tournament’s loser’s bracket. The Bobcats will play against Friday at 3:30 p.m., against an opponent to be determined.
The Griffs turned a 5-3 lead into an 11-3 advantage in the top of the ninth, as the Blue and Gold sent 11 batters to dish and pounded out four hits while also taking advantage of a Quinnipiac fielding error. A Canisius took a 6-3 lead by scoring a run on a wild pitch, a single to center off the bat of junior Mark McKenna knocked in a pair to make the score 8-6 in favor of Canisius. Senior Liam Wilson followed McKenna’s base knock with an RBI-double to the gap in left center to make the score 9-3. That double, Wilson’s 26th of the season, set the new MAAC and Canisius school record for two-base hits in a single season. After senior Ryan Stekl was intentionally walked to load the bases, redshirt sophomore William Krull drove in two more runs for Canisius with a base hit to center allowing McKenna and Wilson to cross the plate, making the score 11-3.
In the ninth, Frank came back to the mound and closed the game out en route to his fourth victory of the season. Frank earned the win after he tossed 4.2 innings of scoreless relief, where he allowed two hits to go with four strikeouts. Frank came into the game with one out in the fifth for Canisius starter junior Andrew Sipowicz. Sipowicz gave up three runs on six hits to go with three strikeouts and two walks in 4.1 innings of work.
McKenna finished the game by going 4-for-5 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored in the victory for Canisius. Stekl went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Krull also added two hits, three RBI and a run scored to the winning effort. Senior Christ Conley reached base four times on the day as he went 1-for-3 with a single to go with four base-on-balls.
• Thursday marked the 16th all-time meeting between the two schools in baseball since the series began in 2013. The game was the fourth time the two programs have met in the MAAC Baseball Championship, where Canisius is 3-1 in that portion of the series.
• Canisius has scored 10-or more runs in all three of its MAAC Tournament wins over Quinnipiac.
• Thursday marked the first pitching appearance for Frank in a MAAC Tournament game.
• The four hits for McKenna ties a career high for the Grand Island, N.Y., native. He last had four hits in a game April 26, 2017 against Niagara.
• McKenna also tied a career high with the three RBI on Thursday. He drove in three runs at Kennesaw State March 25, 2017.
• Conley extended his streak of reaching base safely to 15-straight games.
• Senior John Conti extended his on-base streak to 12 games as well.
• The RBI-single for Wilson gives him a RBI in five of the team’s last six contests, and 12 of the Griffs’ last 17 games overall.
• Wilson’s 26th double of the year allowed him to set the MAAC single-season record.
Canisius will meet top-seeded Monmouth Friday at noon with winner advancing to the championship round of the six-team tournament. Friday’s game will be broadcast live on ESPN+.