Canisius Wins MAAC Championship
The Canisius baseball team scored four times in the top of the first inning and never looked back, as the Golden Griffins defeated top-seeded Monmouth 11-0 to claim the 2018 MAAC Baseball Championship at Richmond County Bank Ballpark in Staten Island, N.Y.
With the win, Canisius (35-20) has earned the MAAC’s automatic berth into the 2018 NCAA Division I Championship. The Griffs will play No. 14 Minnesota Friday, June 1 at 8 pm. Minnesota, the 2018 Big Ten Tournament champions, will serve as the host school for the four-team Minneapolis Regional, which also features UCLA and Gonzaga. All games in Minneapolis will be played Minnesota’s Siebert Field.
The Griffs’ jumped out of the box red-hot, plating four runs in the top of the first, highlighted by a three-run double down the right field line off the bat of senior Ryan Stekl. Canisius added three more runs in the fifth and then scored twice in the sixth and seventh to secure the win. The 11 runs were more than enough for the Griffs’ pitching staff, which combined to hold the Monmouth offense to four hits for the game.
Canisius senior starter Charlie Sobieraski earned the victory on the hill after he tossed six scoreless innings and fanned four while giving up just three hits. Senior J.P. Stevenson (New Glasgow, PEI), the 2018 MAAC Pitcher of the Year, came on in the ninth and retired the Hawks in order, capped by a fly-ball to centre that ended the game. The 11-0 win for Canisius on Saturday marks the first shutout in a MAAC baseball championship game.
Stekl went 3-for-4 with a double and four runs batted in for the Griffs in the victory, while junior Mark McKenna had two hits, knocked in a pair and scored a run. Junior Conner Morro (Cheltenham, Ont.), the last recruit Mike McRae signed before heading to Virginia Commonwalth, had two hits and scored three times, while teammate Canice Ejoh (Toronto, Ont.) scored twice and drove in two RBIs.
Stevenson was named the MAAC Champion MVP after he got the Griffs off on the right foot on Wednesday, earning the win on the hill as the team’s starter in the 5-4 victory over Niagara. Joining Stevenson on the 2018 MAAC All-Tournament team includes McKenna, Stekl and seniors Tyler Smith and John Conti. Smith picked up a win and a save in the tournament, while Conti drove in the game-winning runs in the team’s victory over Monmouth on Friday afternoon to send the Blue and Gold to the championship round.
• This marks Canisius’ third MAAC baseball championship, and first since 2015. The Griffs also won the conference title in 2013.
• The Griffs have won each of their last two MAAC championships by score 11 runs in the title game. Canisius defeated Siena 11-2 in the 2015 championship game in Fishkill, N.Y.
• Canisius has now won two of its three MAAC baseball championships as the tournament’s No. 3 seed. The Blue and Gold were the No. 3 seed in 2013, as well.
• Canisius’ win on Saturday is the team’s eighth straight, the program’s longest win streak since 2016.
• Stevenson is the third MAAC Championship MVP in program history and he is the first Griffs’ pitcher to earn the award.
* Besides Ejoh, Stevenson and Morro, McRae )Niagara Falls, NY) recruited RHP Carson Perkins (Bienfait, Sask.) OF Cyrus Senior (Montreal, Que.), INF Jacob Martins (Richmond Hill, Ont.) LHP Jared Kennedy (Calgary, Alta.), 3B Liam Wilson (Ayr, Ont.), OF Michael Ssemanda (Hamilton, Ont.) and Nick Capitano (Bolton, Ont.).