Niagara baseball downs Fairfield to claim first MAAC title in program history

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Niagara University baseball team’s winningest season ever culminated in more history and some hardware on Saturday.

The Purple Eagles defeated top-seeded Fairfield 10-6 in Game One of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship Series in Pomona, New York to claim the program’s first-ever conference title and clinch their first berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Niagara (38-15) finished the MAAC tournament a perfect 3-0 and needed to win just one game of a possible two over the Stags — and a second matchup on Saturday felt likely entering the eighth inning, as a five-run seventh gave Fairfield a 6-3 advantage.

However, when they needed a rally the most, the Purple Eagle bats that led the MAAC entering Saturday with 8.4 runs per game came alive.

In winningest baseball season, Niagara cleans up MAAC awards

Niagara posted seven runs in the eighth, batting around the lineup to blow the game open and open up its four-run lead that it would hold onto the rest of the way.

After two runs scored on a Brady Desjardins single to tie the game at six a piece, Eric Rataczak’s team record-tying 16th home run of the year, a two-run blast, gave the Purple Eagles the lead. Two batters later, Matt Ward knocked out another two-run shot to left field that provided the insurance.

Rataczak, the MAAC Player of the Year, finished 3-for-5 with two runs to go with his two-run homer, while sophomore Gavin Schrader ended the day 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs batting in the cleanup spot.

The Purple Eagles will find out which four-team region in the NCAA Tournament they’ll slot into during the selection show at noon Monday, which will air on ESPN2.

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Adam Gorski is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team in 2022. You can find more of his work here.

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