090411 NU Baseball - Sports

James Neiss/staff photographer Niagara Falls, NY - Niagara University #4 Jason Cramer got the ball in time to tag out Siena Saints #3 Nick Messinger in the 2nd Inning of baseball action at Sal Maglie Stadium on Saturday.

It might be over a month since Siena beat Niagara for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in men’s basketball, but the Saints still have the Purple Eagles’ number.

Despite getting some stellar pitching performances, Niagara could muster only five hits on its way to a pair of losses to the visiting Saints Saturday afternoon at Sal Maglie Stadium. Siena took game one, 4-1, and then came back to win the nightcap, 3-2, in 14 innings. Niagara (10-22 overall, 6-5 MAAC) had won six of its last seven MAAC games coming into Saturday’s twinbill.

“The thing about this conference is that you have to play your best every single week,” interim NU coach Rob McCoy said. “And right now, we’re not good enough to not play at our best and win games.”

Case in point, the opener, when right-hander Marcus Spaulding put in nine innings of work for naught. The junior struck out a career-high 11 batters, but took the loss because off a pair of unearned runs allowed in the fifth inning.

Then in the second game, freshman hurler Joe Candelmo tossed six shutout innings before handing the ball and a 2-0 lead over to closer Adam Wagner. With two runners already on base after walks issued by Candelmo, Wagner allowed an RBI single to Anthony Giansanti and followed that up with a wild pitch that allowed the tying run to score.

“We couldn’t finish,” McCoy said.

The Purple Eagles, who scored both of their runs in the fifth inning by an error and a passed ball, finally notched their first hit of the game in the bottom of the seventh when Brian Deering doubled down the left-field line. Deering was stranded, though, as the game headed for extras.

Wagner settled in nicely for NU, striking out nine in five innings of relief. Niagara advanced a runner to third in the eighth and 12th innings, but couldn’t push a run across. Then in the top of the 14th with Niagara’s Bill Rafferty on the hill, the Saints finally broke through. William Cardona singled to left and then scored on a triple off the bat of Giansanti. The ball was just out of the reach of a diving Cam Stykemain.

Niagara then went down 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the frame to end the marathon contest. Right hander Dan Lazzaroni earned the win for Siena after throwing seven innings of relief for starter Kyle Sumple.

“Coming into this game their pitchers had an ERA of about eight — they certainly didn’t pitch like that today,” McCoy said. “Our pitchers did very well, too, and like I told them, they deserved a better outcome. We had some chances, we just couldn’t come up with the big hit.”

The same two teams will play a single nine-inning tilt at noon today.

“Series sweeps and salvaging a win here and there are the difference between being a playoff team and not being a playoff team,” McCoy said. “I expect our hitters to bounce back and do well. By Sunday, it usually comes down to who wants it most.”

Freshman outfielder Wynton Bernard, who was the lone Purple Eagle with multiple hits on the day, agreed.

“We weren’t aggressive enough, but I guarantee you that’s never going to happen again with this team,” he said. “We’ll learn from our mistakes and get them the next game.”