Baseball team opens season with three losses in Texas
WACO, TEXAS – The Niagara University Purple Eagles baseball team began their season this weekend, falling in three games to the Baylor Bears. Held at Waco’s Baylor Ballpark, Niagara dropped game one on Feb. 17 7-3, before being swept in a double-header on Feb 18, with scores of 6-3 and 21-6, respectfully. The three games were the first ever meeting between Niagara and Baylor’s baseball teams.
In game one, Baylor got off to a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the third, knocking Niagara starter Cody Eckerson from the game. Catcher Shea Langeliers knocked a bases-loaded RBI single, followed by a walk, sacrifice fly and fielder’s choice, each of which scored an additional run for Baylor. Niagara plated their first run of the season in the top of the fifth, as Trevor McCauley scored on a double play. Baylor scored three more runs in the bottom of the fifth, two coming via a two-run home run by outfielder Richard Cunningham.
Niagara attempted a comeback in the top of the eighth, with Greg Cullen and Owen Dziados each driving in runs with RBI singles. It proved to not be enough for NU, as Baylor’s Drew Robertson earned his first save of the season in the ninth. Nick Lewis recorded the win for the Bears, as Eckerson was tagged with the loss for Niagara.
In the first game of two contests on Saturday, Niagara took their first lead of the season, thanks to a RBI single from Peter Battaglia in the top of the third. A throwing error by Baylor third baseman Steven McLean in the top of the fourth brought home Joel Brophy to give Niagara a 2-0 lead.
Baylor then went ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the frame, with Aaron Dodson going deep off starter Daniel Procopio. Baylor starter Montana Parsons settled down after the fourth, finishing with a line of 6.0 innings, one earned run and six strikeouts to earn the win. In the eighth, Tanner Kirwer connected for the Purple Eagles first homerun of the year. Kirwer was one of four Niagara batters with two hits in game one. However, Troy Montemayor sealed the Baylor win with a scoreless ninth inning, stranding runners on first and second.
Saturday’s second game saw a blowout 21-6 win for Baylor, jumpstarted by a five-run first inning against Niagara starter Tyler Howard. By the bottom of the fifth, Baylor had taken a commanding 10-0 lead. The Purple Eagles got on the scoreboard in the top of the sixth. They went on to score three times in the top of the eighth and twice in the ninth. Niagara’s Tanner Kirwer doubled twice in game, driving in three of the club’s six runs. Peter Battaglia and Nick Bernick each had multi-hit performances. Defensively, the Purple Eagles were hampered by four errors.
For Baylor, six hitters drove in two or more runs, with Shea Langeliers going 3-5 with a two-run home run and Davis Wendzel knocking in three runs on two hits. Cody Bradford tossed 7.0 innings of one-run ball to earn his first win of 2017.
The Purple Eagles will now head to Norfolk, VA to take on Norfolk State for a three-game series beginning on Feb. 25.
Photo courtesy of PurpleEagles.com