Purple Eagles beat Norfolk State in three games
The Niagara University baseball team swept the Norfolk State Spartans in three games over the weekend. Niagara picks up their first wins of the baseball season after dropping three contests to Baylor on March 17-18. The Purple Eagles outscored their opponents 19-1 and now sit at 3-3 in 2017.
In game one on Saturday, March 25, Niagara picked up its first win of the season by shutting out the Spartans 9-0. Five strong scoreless innings by starter and eventual winner Cody Eckerson along with four combined shutout frames for relievers Jordan Parranto and Alex MacKinnon gave Niagara a great chance to win right off the bat. A four-run third inning gave the Purple Eagles the lead, thanks to RBI from Tanner Kirwer, Peter Battaglia and Trevor McCauley. Designated hitter McCauley finished the game 2-3 with two RBI, including a single which drove in Philippe Langlois in the seventh.
Shortstop Greg Cullen provided the big blow to Norfolk State, connecting for a three-run home run in the top of the fourth against starter Alex Mauricio. Mauricio earned his first loss of 2017, despite a nine-strikeout performance.
Later on Saturday, the Purple Eagles again shutout Norfolk State, defeating the Spartans 4-0. Niagara’s Daniel Procopio tossed six innings, allowing just one hit while notching nine strikeouts. It was a bounce-back performance for Procopio, who earns his first win of the year after a season debut against Baylor in which he allowed three runs in four innings.
All four Niagara runs came in the top of the third against starter Devin Hemmerich. Cullen plated both Kirwer and Julian Gallup on a single to left field, followed then by a two-run home run off the bat of right fielder Wyatt Olson.
Game three on March 26 featured much of the same from Niagara, as Norfolk State again struggled to score runs, losing 6-1 to NU. Tanner Kirwer led the game off with a double and came cross to score on a wild pitch. Cullen, Langlois and McCauley each had run-scoring hits in the sixth, making it 4-1 Niagara.
Matthew Brash started for Niagara for the first time this season. The righthander yielded just one run on three hits, striking out seven. The lone run against NU this series came in the bottom of the fifth, when outfielder Terrence Pinkston grounded out on a ball that scored Brain Beard. Nate Mascellino relieved Brash in the sixth, throwing three scoreless innings. In the top of the ninth, Gallup added two runs of support for the Purple Eagles, drilling a triple into left centerfield and scoring both Nick Bernick and Joel Brophy. Matt McCuen pitched a scoreless ninth inning to seal the win.
Niagara will now play in the University of Virginia Tournament in Charlottesville, VA. On March 3, the Purple Eagles will play both La Salle University at the University of Virginia, playing UVA again on March 4, and La Salle once again on March 5.