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  • Andrew Nowel

Griffs baseball falls in walk-off fashion, rest of series canceled for snow

By Andrew Nowel, Sports Reporter

The Canisius Golden Griffins baseball team took the field for the first time this season last Friday, Feb. 19, on the road in Philadelphia. The Griffs began the 2024 season against the St. Joseph’s Hawks, ultimately losing in walk-off fashion 6-5. The rest of the series was ultimately canceled due to snow.

The Hawks jumped to a quick 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first when senior right fielder Ryan Picollo hit a three-run homer. Griffs junior pitcher Peyton Consigli shook off the early struggles and got through three innings with only the three-run blemish. He tried to finish the fourth, but Head Coach Matt Mazurek went to his bullpen, calling in redshirt junior Ethan Hennessy to complete the frame.

The Canisius offense couldn’t get anything going until junior right fielder Jackson Strong’s two-run homer shortened the Hawks’ lead down to 3-2. Strong finished the game two for five, scoring twice in the game. Piccolo answered with another homer to extend the Hawks’ lead back to 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh.

The Griffs loaded the bases in the top of the ninth against the Hawks closer, graduate student Mike Picollo. Two wild pitches and a hit by pitch tied the game for the Griffs, but they were unable to take the lead. The Hawks had committed four errors up to this point while the Griffs had committed three, showing how the first game of the season was not necessarily the cleanest.

With the game tied at five, Coach Mazurek went to Senior Levi Abbott to try to extend the game into extra innings. Abbott quickly got the first two outs with the second out of the inning being a popout by Ryan Picollo. 

Then, trouble began as Abbott allowed a single, which seemed harmless until a fielding error by redshirt junior Josh Niles allowed the runner to advance to second base while the batter reached. Abbott threw a wild pitch, advancing both runners a base, and Hawks senior catcher Jakob Reed singled to walk it off for the Hawks, 6-5.

“It took our offense and our defense a few innings to get their feet underneath them.  You sit here and try to prepare away from that with reps but it is hard to replicate the emotional rollercoaster that opening day brings. Once we got through the order one time offensively we started to have better At-Bats and once our whole infield had their first ground ball hit to them we started to make plays for the most part,” head coach Matt Mazurek said

It wasn’t an entirely bad day as the Griffs bullpen pitched very well, allowing three runs in five innings of work, two of them being earned runs coming on one hit. At the plate, the Griffs struggled as they hit .216, but graduate student lead off hitter Mike DeStefano went four for five.

Saturday and Sunday’s game against the Hawks were canceled due to snow, so the Griffs look to rebound from the first loss of the season this upcoming weekend as they head down to the Carolinas, starting in South Carolina for the One Spartanburg Inc. Baseball Classic. The opening game will be on Friday at 4:00 p.m. against Presbyterian College. The Griffs will also play the USC Upstate Spartans on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 2:00 p.m. and the Gardner-Webb Runnin’ Bulldogs on Sunday at 12:00 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Joe Schneyder

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