The Griffs had a .500 day on Wednesday as they split a doubleheader at Niagara’s Bobo Field with the Purple Eagles, a 6-3 win in game one and a 4-3 loss in the nightcap.
In the first game of the day, Canisius jumped on Niagara starter Tommy Bednarski early with four runs in the first inning. Bednarski came out shaky and issued two walks along with a hit by pitch early on and then Max Grant doubled home all three of those runners. The next batter, Mike DeStefano, tripled home Grant to give the Griffs a 4-0 lead before Niagara came to bat.
“We just needed to be patient and wait for our opportunities to strike. That was the game plan against them was to apply pressure early and that’s what we did,” head coach Matt Mazurek said.
Niagara scored two runs in the first inning off of a two-run home run from Benny Serrano but the Purple Eagles only scored one run the rest of the game off of Canisius starter Kyle Warner.
Warner threw the first complete game of his career Wednesday in the seven-inning affair, giving up three runs on seven hits while only walking one Purple Eagle and striking out five.
“The first inning, he got through that but he pitched his way back and found his rhythm, he had all three pitches working for him so it was awesome,” Mazurek said. “He just wants the ball. He’s got some leadership inside of him and when he goes out there, we’re looking to get at least four (innings) out of him and anything more than that is going to give confidence to everyone around him.”
In the second game of the day, the Griffs were not as lucky. They grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning courtesy of a double from Grant.
Grant, who caught both games, was fantastic the entire day. He had three extra-base hits on the day and drove in four runs. Canisius was low on catchers for the day due to the fact that two of them were in COVID-19 related quarantines and not available. Grant was mainly recruited as an infielder but played catcher in high school.
“We were the most confident in Max and our pitchers were the most confident throwing to him, so we went with him. He swung it and the pitchers loved throwing to him,” Mazurek said.
Niagara took a 2-1 lead in the third inning. The Griffs re-took a 3-2 lead in the fourth.
The fifth inning was the inning to look back on. The Griffs loaded the bases with no outs, but a lineout and then two strikeouts ended the inning and no runs scored. The Purple Eagles tied the game at three in their half of the fifth and the game remained tied until the eighth, when Niagara took the lead for good on a Liam Ward single to drive in the game-winning tally.
After that fifth inning the Griffs offense never got re-ignited with only two hits the rest of the game off of Niagara’s Zach Cameron, who threw five innings of scoreless relief.
“He was showing us fastballs early and that’s the pitch we want to hit off that guy so that’s why you started to see guys coming up to the plate and swinging early,” Mazurek said. “There were way too many early, weak outs for my liking.”
The doubleheader split puts the Griffs at 4-6 on the season. This weekend they will play a four-game set with Manhattan at home with Saturday and Sunday doubleheaders, both starting at 12 p.m.