Canisius overcame a rough start and survived an ninth-inning grand slam by Riley Mihalik to outlast the Broncs, 11-8, in the opening game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference baseball playoffs at Sal Maglie Stadium in Niagara Falls.
Rider took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning on two doubles, a walk, a hit batsmen and an infield single. The Golden Griffins got two back right away when Gage Lanning homered to left after leadoff batter Jake Lumley singled. Canisius scored twice to take the lead in the third when Liam Wilson tripled for an RBI and scored on a wild pitch. The Griffs broke it open with six runs in the seventh and another in the eight. Two runs in the seventh came across on bases-loaded walks and another on a wild pitch. Stephen Bennett and Cyrus Senior had run-producing hits in the inning.
Mihalik hit his grand slam with no outs in the ninth off reliever Nolan Hunt, but Canisius got out of the inning by turning a 6-4-3 double play.
The Griffs will face No. 2 seed Marist at noon today. Marist drew its first-round bye on Wednesday.
Iona rolled over Manhattan, 5-1, in another first-round game Wednesday afternoon. Defending champion and No. 1 seed Fairfield trounced Iona, 12-1, Wednesday night. Manhattan and Rider will meet at 3:30 p.m. today.
In the Atlantic 10 championship in St. Louis, third-seeded St. Bonaventure (26-22) was eliminated by a 3-1 loss to host Saint Louis on Wednesday night. The Bonnies were shut out by Devin Mahoney of the Billikens until the ninth, but they left the bases loaded. Brandon Schlimm of Bona was the loser in a pitching duel with Mahoney.
Earlier, Durin O'Linger allowed just two earned runs on nine hits to lift No. 6 Davidson to a 5-2 win over the Bonnies.
The Wildcats senior, who was also a part of a Davidson run to the championship final last year, went 8.1 innings, issued three strikeouts to claim his seventh win of the season (7-3). The ‘Cats (28-23) advanced to Thursday's second round where they will face No. 7 George Mason at 10 a.m. .
In the Davidson game, Ryan MacCarrick hit a lead-off home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game for Bona. He was 3 for 5 in the game, including an RBI double in the seventh inning. Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year Aaron Phillips took the loss for the Bonnies. The junior from Cleveland Hill High struck out nine in 6.1 innings but walked six and allowed eight hits.
In addition to the honor for Phillips, Bonnies coach Larry Sudbrook was named conference Coach of the Year at Tuesday's A-10 Awards night.