April 28, 2012
With their backs against the wall in the race for a MAAC Tournament bid, Siena baseball needed a big showing this weekend against Niagara at Siena Field. That's just what the Green and Gold got Saturday, winning two games against the Purple Eagles by 7-4 and 6-5 scores.
Siena (15-29, 6-8 MAAC) wasted no time opening up the scoring, putting three runs on the board in game one before their first out. After a Vincent Citro walk and a Kyle Baldani double, Mike Fish stepped in and belted a three-run home run over the leftfield wall, his first four-bagger of the season. The Saints then added two more in the third on RBI singles by Baldani and Brian Fay, and another in the fifth on a base knock by John Rooney.
While the offense was putting up the runs, senior pitcher Ryan Poplawski crafted another fine outing. The lefty did not allow a hit until the sixth inning, and did not surrender a single earned run in 7 1/3 innings of work. Niagara did score two unearned runs in both the sixth and eighth innings, but the Saints had built too big a lead and Neil Fryer earned his fifth save of the season with a 1-2-3 ninth.
The nightcap started badly for the Saints, as Niagara scored two more unearned runs in the first. Siena got both back in the bottom of the inning, though, and would not trail the rest of the way despite the Purple Eagles having plenty of chances.
Citro, Baldani, and Fish gave Siena a 5-2 lead in the second with back-to-back-to-back RBI base hits, all of which came with two outs. The Saints added another in the fourth on the second bases-loaded walk of the game by Larry Balkwill, but Niagara refused to quit.
The Purple Eagles touched Siena starter Justin Brantley for two runs in the fifth to make it a 6-4 ballgame, and then chased the junior in the sixth. Lewicki once again came on in relief, but yielded an RBI double that got Niagara within a run and left runners on second and third with just one out and the team's heart of the order coming up to bat.
Siena once again turned to Fryer, and the closer did not disappoint. The sophomore struck out Eric Hink, induced a groundout to short by Ryan McCauley, and did not allow a hit in the seventh to give the Saints their second win of the day.
The Saints banged out 24 hits in 16 innings, with Baldani and Fish each tallying five apiece. With the two victories, Siena moves to 6-8 in the MAAC, and could rejoin the race for a spot in next month's conference tournament by completing the sweep of Niagara tomorrow.
The final game of the series is set to start at 12 p.m. at Siena Field.