March 27, 2005
Opening Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play, the Niagara University baseball team (3-14, 1-1) split its doubleheader with Siena College (3-12, 1-1) Sunday at Bobo Field.
Both games Sunday were decided in the late innings, with the Purple Eagles winning Game 1 of the doubleheader, 2-1, and falling to the Saints, 6-3, in Game 2.
Junior Daniel Parsons (Liverpool, N.Y.) led Niagara with three hits in the doubleheader, with junior Mike Medici (Latham, N.Y.) leading the team with two RBI.
Game 1 - Niagara 2, Siena 1
With the score tied, 1-1, heading into the final inning, Niagara junior first baseman Paul Solini (Liverpool, N.Y.) hit a walk-off home run to left center to leadoff the bottom of the ninth and help lead the Purple Eagles to the 2-1 victory.
Hitting his first home run of the season, Solini went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored in the win over the Saints.
The game began as a defensive battle between Niagara junior pitcher James Avery (Moose Jaw, Sask.) and Siena junior pitcher Ken Grant, as neither pitcher allowed a run in the first seven innings.
Siena took a 1-0 lead on a home run to left by freshman Jacob Willis off Avery in the top of the eighth.
The Purple Eagles tied the score in the bottom half of the inning when Medici hit a sacrifice fly to deep center, scoring sophomore Brian Clifford (Buffalo) from third.
Avery (1-2) maintained the tie in the top of the ninth inning, striking out two, leading to Solini's walk-off home run. In the win, Avery struck out four, allowing five hits and walking one.
Game 2 - Siena 6, Niagara 3
Late-inning heroics continued in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader, as Siena scored three runs in the top of the seventh and final inning to earn the 6-3 win over the Purple Eagles.
After freshman Steve Ballas struck out to open the top of the seventh, Willis and junior Eric Hildenbrand hit back-to-back home runs off of Niagara sophomore Josh Sawatzky (Altona, Man.) to break the 3-3 deadlock. Junior Matt Gidaly would score the final run for the Saints in the win, scoring on a single by freshman Chris Klepps.
Niagara, after falling behind 2-0 following a two-run home run by Siena junior Gabe Perez in the first, would tie the score after consecutive walks by Saints junior John Lannan with the bases loaded.
With Siena ahead, 3-2, in the second, the Purple Eagles would again tie the score on a sacrifice fly by Medici, scoring freshman Andrew MacDonald (Charlottetown, P.E.I.) from third.
Lannan (2-2) did not allow a hit in the final three innings, leading to the three-run seventh inning.
Sawatzky (0-4) pitched 6 1-3 innings, allowing six hits and striking out four in the loss.
The two teams conclude the three-game conference series Monday at Bobo Field, with game time set for noon.