Edison, NJ - Manhattan College, Canisius College, Fairfield University, and Rider University will take the field Thursday, May 24 to compete for the 2012 MAAC Baseball Championship at Joe Bruno Stadium in Troy, N.Y. All of the games, as well as Wednesday night's awards banquet, will be available live on MAAC.TV.
Manhattan, the defending league champions and this year's top seed, will face Rider at 3 p.m. on Thursday. At 7 p.m., second-seeded Canisius will meet third-seeded Fairfield. Game times will be the same on Friday, May 25 and a special Fireworks Spectacular will follow the second game (weather permitting).
Tickets can be purchased in advance on TicketLeap.com. All-session passes are available for $30. Single-day tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students. All seating is general admission.
Manhattan enters the championship with an 18-6 league record (29-24 overall), however, two of those losses came to first round opponent Rider during a three-game series in April in Lawrenceville. The Jaspers did most of their winning at home, going a perfect 18-0 at Van Cortlandt Park to become the only school in the nation to go undefeated at home. Manhattan, led by first-year head coach James Duffy, has won seven games in a row dating back to May 6, the fifth longest active streak in the country.
Rider, winner of two of the last four conference championships, hasn't lost a series in a month and hasn't dropped a series opener since March 31 at Canisius. Head coach Barry Davis is the only participating coach with a MAAC title. Offense shouldn't be a problem for the Broncs as they led the league with 131 runs scored in conference games. The concern will be the bullpen, weakened after converting All-America closer Tyler Smith into a starter, and defense (league-worst 40 errors).
Canisius, the only program in the field without a league title, went 16-8 in the MAAC and 31-25 overall. Mike McRae's Golden Griffins have won four straight and went 8-2 in May. Canisius dropped two-of-three to Fairfield at the end of April. The Griffs hit .278 as a team, second best in the conference, and were tied for second with a .968 field percentage.
Fairfield will make its first apperance in the championship since 2000 after setting a program record with 27 wins (14-10 MAAC). First-year head coach Bill Currier has steered the Stags to the postseason on the strength of their pitching staff, which led the league with a 4.01 ERA (3.36 in MAAC games). Fairfield's pitching will need to remain effective as the Stags hit .260 as a team in MAAC contests.
The winner will receive the MAAC's automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. The selection show will be at noon on Monday, May 28 live on ESPNU.