Jimmy Luppens haunted the Bobcats at the plate Saturday afternoon in the third game of a four-game set against Canisius in a 16-8 loss.
Luppens sent the ball screaming over the fence three times during the game. He didn’t waste any time, homering in his first at-bat in the top half of the first with Jesse Kelso on base. He connected for a homer again in the seventh with two runners on base, after Kelso was intentionally walked before him.
The most resounding blast came in the top of the ninth with the score knotted at eight. On the first pitch he saw in the inning, Luppens sent a ball sailing over the fence to bring home three more runs.
Though Luppens was able to wreak havoc on the Bobcats via the long ball on Saturday afternoon, he came into the game without any home runs this season. He was not the batter who head coach Rob Smith and his team were concerned with. Kelso was their main concern heading into the series, hence the decision to walk him when down by one run and a runner on with two outs in the seventh.
“We talked about it going into the weekend that Kelso was their best hitter, their top RBI guy, their top run scorer, their top stolen base guy, and at all costs, we weren’t going to put him in a position to beat us,” said Smith. “And that’s what we tried to do, just unfortunately the guy after him put a good swing on it, had a career day for sure.”
At the plate, the Bobcats were also able to use home runs to get on the board. In the third inning, Jake Madsen went deep with two runners on base to give the Bobcats their only lead of the game, making the score 4-3 at the time.
It appeared as if Dan Schmidt was poised to be the hero of the game when in the eighth inning, he tied the game on a two-out, three-run blast that Canisius right fielder Gruarin watched sail over the fence.
“They got the three-run homer that got the momentum back to them, but I was proud of our offense,” said Smith. “They really battled back and gave us a chance but unfortunately, we just weren’t able to do it.”
Connor Sitz got the start for the Bobcats on the mound and after a long first inning, he was able to settle in. He went 6.2 innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned) on eleven hits and two walks.
“I thought Connor Sitz competed extremely well,” said Smith. “Again, give it a regular pitching situation we probably don’t even send him back out there for the seventh. He grinded through sixth inning and hung in there after a little bit of a rough start, really kind of neutralizing the game and gave us a chance to come back.”
Brad Przebieda pitched 1.1 innings of relief for the Bobcats without allowing a run. Logan Cozart, who recently made the transition from third base to the mound, allowed three runs on three hits and a walk without recording an out. He received the loss.
Madsen came on in relief in the ninth, allowing five runs on two hits and three walks, recording two outs. Ryan Ferrell came on to get the last out for the Bobcats.
The offense was able to battle back, but pitching proved to be the difference in the game for the Bobcats.
“It’s unfortunate because this team competed extremely hard today but our lack of pitching depth made it very difficult for us to try to win the game,” said Smith.