CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Canisius’ first appearance in the NCAA baseball tournament ended quickly Saturday.
Three of the four Golden Griffins pitchers issued 10 walks, a season high, in a 14-6 loss to Florida Atlantic in an elimination game of the Chapel Hill Regional in Boshamer Stadium. Five of the Owls receiving free passes ended up scoring.
Also, the Griffs were victimized by the long ball. FAU hit three home runs, a three-run shot by Nathan Pittman that made it 4-0 in the second inning and two by Corey Keller, the first good for three runs to make it 8-2 in the third.
Senior Brooklyn Foster and junior Shane Zimmer accounted for half of the Griffs’ 10 hits. Foster was 3 for 5, including the Griffs’ only extra-base hit, a double, and an RBI while Zimmer went 2 for 3.
“We had a terrific team with an awful lot of talent. There is no question we have quality leaders in Chris Gruarin and Brooklyn Foster,” Canisius coach Mike McRae said. “That will be sorely missed because it is something that is difficult to recruit and has been a missing ingredient for our program. I hope they can pass it along as we continue to raise the bar for our program and the league.”
After Florida Atlantic (39-21) had taken a 4-0 lead in the second, Canisius (42-16) cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the inning with back-to-back singles from Foster and Zimmer leading off. Sophomore Jesse Puscheck had an RBI groundout and junior Jesse Kelso (St. Mary’s) had an opposite-field RBI single to make it 4-2.
The Owls chased Canisius starter Devon Stewart (5-6) in the third when the sophomore walked the bases loaded to start the inning. After a wild pitch by Alex Godzak scored one run, Keller came through with his first homer.
The Owls scored single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh to make it 11-2.
Only Rohn Pierce, the third of four Canisius pitchers, found the strike zone consistently. The other three threw strikes on only 83 of their 165 pitches combined.
It was the first time a Canisius team played a game in June. Junior Ryan Coppinger of the Griffs ended the season on a career-long 10-game hitting streak.
The 14 runs by Florida Atlantic equaled the most allowed by the Griffs in 2013, at UNC-Asheville on Feb. 24.
Canisius lost to the No. 1 tournament seed and host North Carolina, 6-3, on Friday while FAU fell to Towson (Md.), 7-2. Towson and North Carolina met at 6 p.m. with the loser to face Florida Atlantic in an elimination game today.