Niagara baseball loses two of three to Manhattan

Rout win on Saturday is followed up two defeats

The Niagara University Purple Eagles baseball team dropped two of three ballgames over the weekend to the Manhattan College Jaspers in The Bronx, NY. The matchups at Houlihan Park were the first for the Purple Eagles against a MAAC opponent so far this season.

In Saturday’s game, the top of the Purple Eagles lineup did most of the damage in a 10-2 rout victory. Tanner Kirwer, Joel Brophy, Greg Cullen and Peter Battaglia combined to go 8-20 with seven RBI. Niagara’s starter Cody Eckerson picked up his second win of the season, allowing no runs in 6.0 innings

Niagara and Manhattan both posted zeros through the first four innings, with starters Eckerson and Joe Jacques tossing scoreless frames. That ended in the top of the fifth, as the Purple Eagles plated three runs. With runners on the corners, Julian Gallup laid down a successful bunt single to score Trevor McCauley. A groundout by Joel Brophy and single off the bat of Greg Cullen made it 3-0 NU. The club scored five more runs in the top of the sixth, with Kirwer doubling in a pair, run-scoring extra base hits by Brophy and Cullen, and an RBI single by Battaglia.

Niagara tallied a run in both the top of the seventh and top of the eighth inning, before Manhattan ended the Purple Eagle’s bid for a shutout in the bottom of the ninth. Facing Niagara reliever Zach Kolodziejski, designated hitter Dominic Palma doubled in Michael Pfenninger, and Matt Forlow grounded out to second baseman Nick Bernick, scoring Palma on the fielder’s choice. In the win, Eckerson lowers his ERA on the season to 2.70, while Manhattan starter Jacques drops to 0-4 in 2017.

The Purple Eagles fell 4-2 in in Sunday’s first game. Manhattan jumped out early, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first to gain a lead which they would not relinquish. Outfielder Jason Patnick singled in two runs against Niagara starter Daniel Procopio, who fell to 2-2 in the loss. The righty Procopio yielded two more runs in the fourth, as Anthony Rocchietti and Brendan Bisset each picked up an RBI. Manhattan starter Tom Cosgrove held NU to two runs, one earned, and six hits in 6.0 innings, striking out 11 hitters.

Niagara’s two runs came in the top of the second, with Geoff Seto singling in Owen Dziados, and in the fifth, and Greg Cullen scoring on a passed ball. Tanner Kirwer went 3-3 with a walk in game one on Sunday, while Alex MacKinnon gave up just one hit in three innings of relief for the Purple Eagles.

In the final of two games on Sunday, Manhattan edged Niagara 6-5, with big offensive performances for Fabian Pena (3-4), Evan Brown (2-4 with a RBI double) and Dominic Palma (2-4 with a two-run single). Palma gave the Jaspers a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Niagara starter Matthew Brash, who allowed four earned runs in 6.0 innings, striking out seven.

The top of the third saw Niagara take a 3-2 lead, thanks to RBI singles by Owen Dziados, Trevor McCauley and Nick Bernick. Manhattan countered with two more runs in the fourth, as second baseman Matt Forlow doubled in a run and later scored on a wild pitch. Julian Gallup doubled home a go-ahead run for NU in the top of the eighth, making it 5-4, but the Jaspers plated two in the bottom of the eighth off Matt McCuen to win their second game of the day.

Offensively for Niagara, Tanner Kirwer ended Sunday’s second game 1-5, and sits with a .312 average on the season. Greg Cullen (2-5) and Peter Battaglia (1-5), both end Sunday with .329 batting averages on the season.

The Purple Eagles now back to NU to play their first home games of the year. They are set to take on Saint Peter’s University for a doubleheader on Saturday, Apr. 1, with game one beginning at 12:00 p.m. The clubs will finish their series on Sunday, with a final game set for 12:00 p.m. from Bobo Field.

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