BRONX, NEW YORK, April 22- Last season, the Manhattan College baseball team won its second consecutive Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) title by defeating Canisius twice on the final day of the MAAC Tournament. The Jaspers and Griffs met for the first time since those championship tilts on Saturday afternoon at Van Cortlandt Park. Canisius (26-10, 6-5 MAAC) swept the twinbill, taking game one by a 9-5 margin before posting a 4-3 victory over the Jaspers (16-20, 6-8 MAAC) in the nightcap.
Manhattan got on the board first in Game One, scoring three times in the bottom of the fourth. Chris Reynolds (Wall, N.J.) started the rally by bunting for a base hit. Reynolds then stole second and Christian Santisteban (Miami, Fla.) drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with one out for Ramon Ortega (Miami, Fla.), who delivered an RBI single to center field. After a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, Brendan Slattery (Danbury, Conn.) knocked them both in with a single to center.
However, Canisius countered with a four-spot in the top of the fifth. The Griffs started the inning with three consecutive doubles and later added an RBI triple by Brett Siddall and a sacrifice fly by Jimmy Luppens. Canisius extended its cushion to 8-3 with four runs in the seventh. The big blow in the inning was Anthony Massicci’s two-run single to center. Massicci then scored on Ronnie Bernick’s single in the ninth, making it 9-3 in favor of the Griffs.
Ortega crushed a home run that was just fair down the left field line leading off the bottom of the ninth, and Joe McClennan (Highland Mills, N.Y.) followed with a walk. Andrew Gorecki (Smithtown, N.Y.) then smashed a double to left center that allowed McClennan to come around. However, he was left stranded on second, as the Griffs’ Rohn Pierce induced a pair of fly balls to close out the 9-5 Canisius victory.
As a team, Manhattan collected six hits in the contest, with Ortega going 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs scored and two RBIs. Slattery went 1-for-4 with two RBIs, while Gorecki was 1-for-4 with an RBI double. John Soldinger (Bay Shore, N.Y.) (2-3) took the loss after yielding six runs on six hits in six innings. He also struck out four and walked two. Kevin Bonanni (Plainview, N.Y.) tossed the final three innings, surrendering three runs on five hits, striking out two and walking two.
Four different Canisius players finished with two hits, as the Griffs collected 11 hits as a team. Massicci was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while Bernick went 2-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs. Garrett Cortright (7-2) earned the win after allowing three runs and four hits while also recording four strikeouts and four walks in eight innings. Pierce pitched the ninth was charged with two runs, two hits and a walk. He also registered a strikeout. In Game Two, the Jaspers picked up an unearned tally without the benefit of a hit in the bottom of the first. Nick Camastro (Lagrangeville, N.Y.) led off and reached on an error, and Reynolds bunted him over to second. Canisius pitcher Alex Godzak tried to pick Camastro off second base, but threw the ball into center field, allowing him to move to third. Kyle Murphy (Danbury, Conn.) then sent a grounder towards third and the Griffs tried to get the out at home, but Camastro beat the throw, giving the Jaspers a 1-0 lead.
The Griffs tied it with an unearned run of their own in the top of the second. Connor Panas singled to center field with one out, and he advanced to third when the ball was misplayed and rolled all the way to the wall. Massicci then singled to left, allowing Panas to score.
After Murphy and Santisteban led off the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back singles, Ortega put the Jaspers back in front with an RBI base hit to right. Godzak then retired McClennan on a foul pop up before Slattery ripped a single through the left side. Santisteban tried to score from second on the play, but was thrown out at home, and Canisius got out of the inning when Joe Rock (Carmel, N.Y.) popped up behind third.
Canisius immediately responded to take the lead. Chris Gruarin drew a one-out walk and Bernick followed with a single. Ryan Coppinger then sent a blast to the wall in center field that ended up as a two-run triple. Kelso was up next, and his scorcher back up the middle went for an infield hit, resulting in another run. Michael Martin (Massapequa, N.Y.) was then called upon in relief of Jacob Marchus (Miami, Fla.), and he retired the first two batters he faced to get out of the inning.
Murphy started a Manhattan rally when he was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the sixth. Santisteban then drew a walk, prompting Canisius to call upon closer Jon Fitzsimmons. Fitzsimmons got Ortega to fly to center, and Murphy tagged up in order to drew a throw. The throw to third went wide, though, and Murphy moved up on the error. McClennan was up next and dropped down a perfect bunt on a squeeze play, allowing Murphy to score and moving Santisteban to second as the tying run. However, Fitzsimmons retired Slattery on strikes to end the frame.
The Jaspers put the tying run on base again on Camastro’s two-out single in the seventh, but Reynolds struck out to end the game, giving Canisius a 4-3 victory and a doubleheader sweep.
Five different Jaspers singled in the game, with Murphy going 1-for-2 with an RBI and scoring twice. Ortega was 1-for-3 with an RBI, while Camastro went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Marchus (2-2), who’s normally used as Manhattan’s closer, made his first start of the season and lasted 4.1 innings. He took the loss after allowing four runs (three earned) and seven hits while also recording four strikeouts and two walks. Martin picked up a strikeout and didn’t give up a hit in 2.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Kelso was 2-for-3 with an RBI for Canisius, which collected seven hits as a team. Coppinger went 1-for-4 with a run scored and two RBIs, while Massicci was 1-for-2 with an RBI. Godzak (6-2) earned the win after surrendering three runs (one earned) and four hits with four strikeouts and a walk in five innings of work. Fitzsimmons notched his sixth save after yielding just one hit and striking out three in two innings.
The Jaspers, who prior to last week had not been swept in a home conference doubleheader since 2007, have now lost four straight MAAC games (and five overall) at Van Cortlandt Park.
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