May 27, 2005
FISHKILL, N.Y. - Canadian Craig Chaput was asked to give the performance of the season in a do-or-die game for the Saints. The freshman delivered. Countryman Josh Sawatzky did him one better. Niagara's sophomore right-hander took a perfect game into the sixth, and allowed just four hits in a dazzling 3-0 shutout Friday night at Dutchess Stadium in Fishkill that eliminated the Saints from the MAAC Tournament.
Niagara, the fourth seed in the four-team Tournament, advances to play top seed Marist tomorrow at 1 p.m. The Purple Eagles will have to win twice to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Marist needs just one win to claim their fourth MAAC title since 1998.
"Obviously, this isn't the way we wanted things to end," head coach Tony Rossi said at the completion of his 36th season. "We didn't do the things we needed to in crucial situations today. We got a tremendous effort on the mound tonight from Craig, but give Niagara credit, they played an outstanding game. Overall this was a great season, and our younger kids really stepped up behind some strong veteran leadership. The future certainly looks bright for the program."
The Saints started six freshman in their season finale. In addition to Chaput, Pete Paris got the start behind the plate, complimenting the four rookies in the Siena infield.
Much like the first game, Niagara was able to take advantage of every mistake the Saints made.
Chaput struck out the first six batters he faced en route to a Siena season-high 12 strikeout performance. After retiring the first two batters in the third, he walked the next two. Niagara loaded the bases when Andrew MacDonald's soft line drive eluded Chris Klepps at short. Teammate Andrew MacNevin followed with the key hit in the game, a two-run single through left side of the infield.
Sawatzky made the lead hold up. The sophomore did not allow a base runner until freshman Michael Ambury worked a one-out walk in the sixth. Scott King broke up the no-hitter with a sharp single to right field one batter later.
King finished the championships 7-for-14, and figures to garner consideration for the MAAC All-Tournament team.
Chaput went eight innings, allowing just one earned run to go along with the 12 strikeouts.
Sawatzky had nine strikeouts and walked just one in the complete game victory.
The Saints finish the 2005 campaign with a 29-23 overall record. The team was picked fifth in the MAAC preseason poll and ended the regular-season in second place with a 19-5 conference mark.
Seniors Mike Orlick, Justin Arasin and Josh Burnett are the only three players lost to graduation. It's likely however, that the June Major League Draft will do further damage to the Siena pitching corps.