Canisius College scored the first win over a ranked opponent in its baseball history on Sunday and did it against one of the most celebrated pitchers in the nation.
Playing in sunny but 41-degree weather in Raleigh, N.C., the Golden Griffins defeated No. 5 ranked North Carolina State, 3-0, behind the pitching of junior Rohn Pierce (Newfane) and Alex Godzak. It was the season opener for both teams.
The losing pitcher was junior left-hander Carlos Rodon who went into the game with a 19-3 career record and was named second and third-team on All-America teams last year. Also, Rodon was USA Baseball’s Player of the Year in 2013 and Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2012, the only time a freshman received that honor.
Pierce threw seven shutout innings on 101 pitches, scattering five singles. The 6-foot-3 right-hander walked one and struck out six. He did not allow a runner past second base.
Godzak pitched two shutout innings, giving up two singles and striking out three with one walk for his first career save.
Rodon went six innings, allowing three runs (one earned) while walking one and striking out six. He also hit three batters.
Canisius got to him right at the start when Mike Krische and Jesse Kelso hit successive doubles for a 1-0 lead. In the third, Ronnie Bernick reached on a two-base outfield fielding error.
After two hit batters, Shane Zimmer worked a nine-pitch walk to force home the second Canisius run. The other tally game in the fifth when Kelso reached on an infield single, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error.
Pierce (1-0) allowed the first two batters to reach but settled down to retire the next eight and 21 of the final 25 he faced. Godzak pitched out of a jam in the ninth when he issued a leadoff walk, followed by a single. He got the first out on a pop-up and struck out the next two batters to close it.
Canisius will play N.C. State again today at 1 p.m. then head to Durham, N.C., a short drive away, to face North Carolina Central at 6 p.m.
While the baseball team was “frolicking” down south, the Canisius men’s and women’s lacrosse team were opening their seasons closer to home.
The men’s lacrosse team defeated Boston University, 9-3, enduring the cold and second-half snow in Boston. Vince Gravino scored four times, Austin Romantic had a pair of goals, and Tim Edwards, Nick Tuttle and Brandon Bull had single tallies for the Griffs. Edwards also had three assists.
The women’s lacrosse team was at least warmer playing before a crowd of 1,442 inside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, where it lost to the No. 2 ranked Orange, 18-6. Megan Cuddy had three goals and Tori Quinn, Maria Cotas (Lancaster) and Caroline Ogden had single tallies.
Sophomore Alicia Wheeler won the 200-yard butterfly in 2:06.11, one of five individual championships captured by Canisius in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference swimming and diving championships at the Burt Flickinger Athletic Center. Canisius finished third in both the men’s and women’s team scoring for the three-day meet that wound up on Saturday.
Other winners for Canisius were Spencer Bray in the 500 and 1,000-yard freestyles, junior Marissa Oakey in the women’s 500 freestyle and junior Eddie Quarantillo in the 3-meter diving.
Niagara took two firsts on Saturday with Robert Brown winning the 100 freestyle in 45.68 and Shane Baxter taking the 200 backstroke in 1:48.27. The Purple Eagles finished sixth in the men’s and eighth in the women’s team scoring. Rider won the men’s title. Marist took the women’s championship.