May 20, 2005
Junior John Lannan worked seven strong innings en route to his ninth win of the season as Siena completed a convincing sweep of MAAC rival LeMoyne with a 7-3 triumph at Rockwell Field in Syracuse Friday afternoon. With the win, the Saints guarantee themselves of at least the #2 seed in the upcoming conference championships, and kept their hopes of regular-season title alive.
Siena (28-21/19-5) will claim the 2005 MAAC regular-season title if Iona defeats Marist on Sunday in New Rochelle. The loss eliminated LeMoyne (25-22/14-13 MAAC), the two-time defending champion and preseason favorite from Tournament contention, meaning Niagara and Manhattan will join the Saints and Red Foxes in the four-team double-elimination championship beginning Thursday at 4 p.m.
"This was a great win for us entering the Tournament," head coach Tony Rossi said. "We put together a complete effort these three games, with solid pitching and timely hitting. Hopefully we can carry the momentum through to next week."
Lannan completed his case for MAAC Pitcher of the Year with another masterful outing. He kept the Dolphins off balance all day, finishing with six strikeouts in seven innings. He allowed just five hits and one earned run. Lannan won all eight of his MAAC starts this year, and has won 13 of his last 14 conference decisions dating back to last season.
Junior Billy Lazio was 3-for-3 at the plate, including an opposite field homerun to leadoff the sixth. The Saints got out to a big early lead for the fourth straight game, scoring three runs in the second and two in the fifth to take a 5-1 advantage.
Catcher Eric Hildenbrand continued his hot hitting with an RBI double to left to start the scoring in the second. Lazio followed with an RBI single to left, and Gabe Perez scored on a wild pitch to put the Saints up 3-0.
Andre Enriquez homered off Lanan to start the second, marking the only earned run the Saints' pitching staff allowed. Josh Burnett pitched the eighth and ninth innings to close out the game, allowing only an unearned run following a passed ball in the ninth.
In the fifth, the Saints expanded their lead following one of the best at bats of the season. Chris Klepps was hit by a pitch to start the inning, and designated hitter Lou Gattozzi then fouled off nine pitches before launching his second homerun of the series well over the left field wall on the 13th pitch of his at bat to make the score 5-1.
Aaron Bulkley singled home LeMoyne's second run in the bottom of the fifth. He had two hits on the afternoon, enjoying easily the best offensive series of any Dolphin player.
The Saints wasted little time in getting the run back, as Lazio got just enough of a Ryan Toth offering to put Siena on top 6-2. Chris Klepps singled home Siena's seventh run later in the inning.
Burnett made a rare appearance out of the pen to nail down the victory. He did not allow a hit in two innings of prep work for the Tournament.
Siena will be playing for its first MAAC title since 1999 when the Saints advanced to the NCAA Tournament before falling to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech.