Buffalo falls to Big Four rival Canisius
The baseball team has seen its fair share of ups and downs so far this season, and the pattern continued in its two most recent contests - both of which saw the team fall in dramatic fashion.
On Wednesday, the Bulls (18-16, 8-4 Mid-American Conference) traveled 15 minutes down Main Street to take on their cross-town rivals, the Canisius Golden Griffins (24-10, 4-5 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) in back-to-back seven-inning games. The Bulls were unable to piece together a win in the doubleheader, as they dropped the first game 7-5 and the second 2-1.
The last time these two teams met, the Bulls took the upper hand early though they fell 6-5 March 26. Wednesday's first contest held a different story.
The Griffins got off to a quick start, as they built an early four-run lead off Buffalo's starting pitcher, junior Cory Folk. Through three innings, Canisius distanced itself on the scoreboard and forced the Bulls to play a game of catch-up.
"We weren't able to make plays early in that first game," said head coach Ron Torgalski. "We let a few balls get by us that shouldn't have and that led to three of those early runs."
Buffalo did mount a comeback, starting with a sac fly from junior shortstop/pitcher Mike Burke that brought junior outfielder Thomas Richards home in the seventh inning. The Bulls managed to score four runs in the final frame of a contest in which their offense lacked production early. The comeback came to an end when the Griffs closed out the final inning with a strikeout.
"We really made a game out of it in the seventh inning," Torgalski said. "We changed our approach a little bit and were able to hit the ball like we needed to. In the first six innings, we had 15 fly-ball outs, but when we started to hit line drives and put the ball on the ground, we were more successful."
The second game was a low-scoring affair, as neither team managed to record a run until the sixth inning.
Senior pitcher Zach Stephens was effective in his second start of the season. He allowed just two hits, both of which came in the final two innings. Stephens also managed to strike out five during his six innings of work.
"We went up against a very good hitting team today and Stephens went out there and threw really well," Torgalski said. "He controlled the ball well. He had a good tempo going and he really kept the other team off balance."
The Bulls scored first as senior first baseman Ryan Tulloch came home on a single off the bat of senior third baseman River McWilliams in the sixth inning. Canisius was quick to answer, squeezing a run out of Stephens later in the same inning.
The Bulls weren't able to muster any offense in the seventh inning and Canisius came to bat. The game-winning run came when a wild pitch got by freshman catcher Kyle Brennan, who wasn't able to recover in time to prevent the Canisius runner from crossing the plate. The Griffs secured the 2-1 victory.
"They scored on a fastball that just got away from our catcher," Torgalski said. "To me, it just seemed like there was a lack of focus and that just caused us to come up short twice today."
The Bulls will now shift their attention to a weekend series with MAC foe Kent State (18-16, 9-3 MAC). The Bulls will host the Flashes in a battle for the East division lead with the first game scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m.
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