Baseball aims to regain early-season form in hunt for MAC title

On April 3, 2014

  • The baseball team will play at MAC rival Central Michigan this weekend for a three-game series. Chad Cooper, The Spectrum

The baseball team scored 43 runs in the first seven games of its season while only allowing 15 runs, leading to a program-best 6-1 mark to begin the season. The 28-run differential in the first seven games is the highest mark in program history to begin a season.

It has taken the Bulls 14 games, however, to win their next six.

The Bulls (12-10, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) will enter the thick of their conference schedule this weekend. Despite Buffalo's winning record, the team has yet to play a game at Amherst Audubon Field.

"Once we have a field to play on, the season will be very different," said head coach Ron Torgalski. "We practice in an indoor facility all winter. It doesn't give us the same experience while playing on the diamond."

The Bulls are 6-9 since their opening seven games. Inconsistent offense and sloppy defense have plagued the team.

"We have to improve in all three categories [pitching, fielding, hitting]," Torgalski said. "I don't feel we are at the point in the season where we can say we put it all together and we're ready to play in the postseason."

The Bulls' offense has been fueled thus far by a core of power and contact hitters, including sophomore first baseman Tyler Mautner, who leads the team with a .368 batting average and 21 RBIs.

The seniors have also contributed to the team's success, most notably senior infielder Mike Burke and senior outfielder Matt Pollock, who have combined for 43 hits and 27 RBIs.

Burke is also Buffalo's usual Sunday pitcher and has posted a 3-2 record with a team-leading 1.71 ERA. Senior outfielder Jimmy Topps has hit .290 and also has a perfect fielding percentage in center field.

Despite the seniors' statistical success, Torgalski wants to see more enthusiasm and leadership from the seasoned players on the team.

"In baseball, you need that leader in the clubhouse and it seems like that's something we're lacking," Torgalski said. "They don't need to be loud, just lead by example."

Torgalski wants the seniors to guide the promising underclassmen as they mature into their roles on the team, including sophomore outfielder Nick Sinay, who leads the team with 12 stolen bases.

In a season thus far filled with moments of glory and anguish, Torgalski is pleased overall.

"I'm excited," Torgalski said. "If we can keep doing what we're doing on the road, we'll finish off the season mostly on our home field. April is when we play our best baseball and hopefully it will bring Buffalo home a MAC championship."

The Bulls remain on the road this weekend for a three-game series with Central Michigan (17-11, 6-0 MAC) beginning Friday in Mount Pleasant, Mich. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.



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