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Canisius baseball pounds out 11-8 win over Rider


NIAGARA FALLS -- Canisius starter Andrew Sipowicz scattered five hits over 6.2 innings of work, junior Ryan Stekl had three hits and scored three runs and junior Gage Lanning ripped a two-run homer as the Golden Griffins defeated Rider University 11-8 Wednesday afternoon on the first day of the 2017 MAAC LifeStorage Baseball Championship at Sal Maglie Stadium. With the win, Canisius (35-20) moves on to a winner's bracket game Thursday at noon, where the Blue and Gold will take on second-seeded Marist.

Rider scored three times in the top-half of the first inning to jump out to an early 3-0 lead over the Griffs, but Canisius answered with two runs in the bottom of the first thanks to a two-run shot over the fence in left by Lanning, his third home run of the season. Canisius took the lead for good at 4-3 in the third thanks to an RBI-triple by Liam Wilson, who later scored on a wild pitch.

Canisius broke the game open with six runs in the home-half of the seventh to take a 10-3 lead through seven frames. Rider scored in the eighth and pushed four runs across the plate in the ninth to make the score 11-8, but junior reliever Tyler Smith came on in relief and rolled a ground-ball double-play to end the game, earning Smith his 11th save of the season. The victory, the Griffs' fourth over Rider this season, improved the team to 8-0 on the year when scoring 10-or more runs.

Sipowicz moved to 6-3 on the year after he allowed three runs on five hits to go with three strikeouts and two walks in 6.2 innings of work. Four of the five hits Sipowicz allowed came in the first inning where the Broncs scored three times. After that inning, the Orchard Park, N.Y., native did not allow another Rider hit until the seventh, when Christian Estevez led off the frame with a triple to the gap in right-center.

Stekl was one of three Canisius players to record multi-hit days in the win, with 2017 MAAC Player of the Year Jake Lumley and junior Cyrus Senior collecting two hits apiece. Lumley scored twice, while Senior drove in a pair with an RBI-single to right in the seventh.

Head Coach Mike McRae's Postgame Comments“After a few tough-luck hits early, I think [Sipowicz] settled down and really gave us six great innings today. He went out there and rebounded after giving up three runs to start. That kind of effort from your starter early in a tournament is really key.”

“The team talked after the top-half of the first. And then they went out and scored two runs right away on Lanning's homer. I think that was really important. The other really big play was in the seventh, after they led off with that triple, and then [Zachary] Sloan came on in relief and got us out of a jam. That really gave us a shot of energy.”

Game Notes• The win on Wednesday is Canisius' 23rd MAAC Tournament win since 2007, the most for any baseball program in the MAAC during that time period.
• The Griffs now have a MAAC postseason victory in 10-straight seasons.
• Lumley has 79 hits on the year, which ties him with former Griff Brian Burton for fifth on the school's single-season hit chart.
• Lanning's homer in the first inning was the first home run by a Canisius batter in a MAAC Tournament game since former Griff Brett Siddall had a grand slam in Canisius' 8-7 win over Rider during the 2015 MAAC Baseball Champion
• Wednesday was Sipowicz's third career MAAC Championship appearance, but it was his first career postseason start for the Blue and Gold.

Up NextCanisius will play second-seeded Marist on Thursday, May 25 on the second day of the MAAC LifeStorage Baseball Championship. First pitch at Sal Maglie Stadium is set for noon.