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Canisius set to meet Niagara in MAAC Baseball Championship opener


No alternative text provided.BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Canisius baseball team will play its first game in the 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship on Wednesday, May 23, when the third-seeded Golden Griffins take on No. 6 seed Niagara at Richmond Count Bank Ballpark in Staten Island, N.Y. First pitch is set for noon, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN+. 
• Canisius closed out the 2018 regular season with a three-game sweep of Marist at home May 17-18. The three wins moved the Griffs to 31-20 overall and 16-8 in MAAC play. This is the fourth-straight season where the Blue and Gold posted a 16-8 conference mark.
• The walk-off win over Marist May 18 serves as the program's 22nd walk-off victory since 2007. It also marks the Griffs' first walk-off win over Marist since May 2, 2015, when Canisius defeated the Red Foxes 4-2 on the power of a two-run homer in the ninth by former Griff Connor Panas.
• The Griffs closed out the regular season with an 11-4 mark at home, the 12th straight season where the team had a winning record at the Demske Sports Complex.
• Senior Christ Conley extended his on-base streak to 11 games with his walk-off single in the ninth inning on May 18.
• Senior John Conti's two runs scored in the victory on May 18 are a season high for the Niagara Falls, N.Y., native.
• Senior Liam Wilson's RBI-single in the third inning on May 18 gives him a RBI in four-straight games and in 11 of the team's last 15 contests.
• The six strikeouts for junior Andrew Kneussle on May 18 matched a career-high for the Plattsburgh, N.Y., native.  
• The Griffs' 8-5 win over Marist at home May 17 clinched the team's berth into the 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship. This will be Canisius' 12th straight MAAC Baseball Championship appearance, the longest active streak of its kind for any baseball program in the conference.
• The Blue and Gold earned the No. 3 seed in this year's event after Monmouth (16-7) won the conference's regular-season title on Saturday. Quinnipiac, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, had a 16-8 MAAC record as well, but earned the higher seed an a first-round bye thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Griffs.
• In the current six-team tournament format, the Griffs are the last No. 3 seed to advance to the championship round, which happened in 2013. In that year, the Blue and Gold won three games in three days to secure the program's first MAAC Baseball championship trophy.
• Last year, Canisius went 1-2 in the 2017 MAAC Baseball Championship, which were held at Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls, N.Y. 
• This year's event will be played at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island, N.Y., home of the New York-Penn League's Staten Island Yankees.
• Canisius' game against Niagara in the 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship will mark the first time the two Western New York rivals have played in the conference's postseason tournament.

• Niagara enters the MAAC Baseball Championship with a 24-25 overall record and a 13-11 mark in MAAC play.
• The Purple Eagles defeated Manhattan on the final day of the regular season to earn the No. 6 seed in this week's tournament. This is the first time Niagara has earned a spot in the MAAC Baseball Championship since 2006. 
• Niagara's offense has been led by junior shortstop Greg Cullen, who leads the nation with his .457 batting average. He has tallied 79 hits in 173 at-bats, to go along with 50 runs scored, 40 RBI and 110 total bases.
• Sophomore Peter Battaglia (60 hits) also provides some offense pop to the Niagara attack with his .361 batting average.
• Freshman Ben Erwin leads the Purple Eagles' pitching staff with five wins in 16 appearances. 

Pending the results of the other first round game between No. 4 Siena and No. 5 Marist, the lower seeded winner will face No. 1 seeded Monmouth with the higher seeded winner going to play No. 2 seeded Quinnipiac.

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