Troy, N.Y. - MAAC Rookie of the Year Devon Stewart allowed two earned runs over eight innings to help lead Canisius College to a 10-3 victory over Rider University at the 2012 MAAC Baseball Championship at Joe Bruno Stadium.
With the win, Canisius advances to the championship round through the winner's bracket for the first time in program history. The Griffs will play at 6 p.m. Saturday night against the winner of tomorrow's elimination game between Manhattan College and Rider. A win on Saturday, or in a potential Game 7 on Sunday, would give Canisius its first-ever championship.
For the second straight game, Canisius took the lead in the bottom of the first as freshman Mike Krische reached on the first of four Rider errors in the game. He moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from Jesse Kelso and Krische then stole third. He came home to score on an RBI groundout from sophomore Shane Zimmer. The Broncs came back and tied the game, taking advantage of two Canisius errors and two walks to even the score.
The Griffs regained the lead in the third, which started when Krische was hit by a pitch. After another sacrifice bunt from Kelso, Zimmer was hit by a pitch to put two runners on base. Freshman Connor Panas doubled to the wall in right field to score Krische and tie the game. Sophomore Jimmy Luppens followed with a sacrifice fly and sophomore Ryan Coppinger doubled to the wall in left-center to put Canisius up 4-2. The Griffs added a run in the fifth when junior Brooklyn Foster led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and then scored on a throwing error on a grounder from Krische to the hole on the right side, giving Canisius a three-run lead.
Canisius doubled its lead in the fifth, extending the lead to six runs. Panas led off with a single off the glove of Rider starter Mike Murphy. After Luppens replaced Panas on a fielder's choice, Coppinger tripled to the fence in center field to score Luppens from first base. Sophomore Jose Torralba then singled through the right side to make it 7-2. Foster then followed with a perfectly executed hit-and-run to put runners at the corners. Sophomore Ronnie Bernick brought home a run on a grounder that was misplayed by Rider to put Canisius up 8-2 and chase MAAC Pitcher of the Year Mike Murphy from the game. Rider (22-33) added a run in the sixth, but Canisius pushed the lead to 10-3 in the eighth on a two-RBI single from Zimmer.
Stewart ran into some early trouble as he overcame three errors, two walks and a hit batter in the second and third innings to limit the Broncs to two runs through three innings. Stewart retired nine straight batters in the middle part of the game and allowed a run in the sixth before retiring eight of the last nine hitters he faced. The freshman went eight innings, allowing three runs, two earned, on three hits, walking four and striking out seven to improve to 6-4 on the season.
Murphy took the loss, allowing eight runs, six earned, on 10 hits, walking two and striking out none. The 4.1 innings from Murphy was hit shortest start of the season as the redshirt sophomore had gone at least six innings all of his 13 previous starts.