Bulls stage epic comeback
Baseball team rallies from four-run deficit in ninth, wins two of three to open conference play
When down four runs in the bottom of the ninth, most teams would call it quits and start getting ready for the next game. The baseball team isn't most teams.
After being shut down offensively for most of the day, the Bulls' (12-10, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) bats got hot in the final inning, scoring five runs to erase a 4-0 deficit and earn a walk-off victory against Central Michigan (10-12, 1-2 MAC) in the opening game of their series - marking the first time Buffalo has opened its conference schedule with a win since 2002 The Bulls split the final two games of the series later in the weekend.
"I give our kids credit for not putting their heads down," said head coach Ron Torgalski. "It would have been real easy to throw in the towel, but we didn't. We went in there and had some quality at bats and worked the pitch count in our favor."
Senior first baseman Alex Baldock hit the game-winning double to drive in senior outfielder Jason Kanzler to give the Bulls a 5-4 comeback win. Torgalski was impressed with his seniors' ability to come through in a clutch situation.
"The guys you expected to step up in those situations did," Torgalski said. "Jason Kanzler and Alex Baldock stepped up and got the big hits for us. Our senior leadership delivered."
Kanzler had a big series for the Bulls and went six for 12 with a home run and five RBIs and scored three runs.
The Bulls finished the three-game series against the Chippewas with a doubleheader on Sunday. The Bulls held a 3-2 lead when Central Michigan scored two runs with two outs in the eighth inning to take a 4-3 lead. The Bulls could not duplicate their ninth inning success from Friday, as the Chippewas closed the game with a win.
The Bulls won the rubber match in the second game, thanks to a dominant performance from junior pitcher Mike Burke. Burke had 10 strikeouts and gave up just three hits to earn his first career shutout and gave the Bulls a 7-0 victory.
"It was the best I've seen Mike [Burke] throw," Torgalski said. "He was throwing his curveballs for strikes and really kept them off balance. He did a great job and we needed that after losing a tough one in the first game of the doubleheader."
All of the Bulls' scoring came in an offensive explosion in the fourth and fifth innings. They scored two runs in the fourth and five in the fifth, amid fielding errors from the Chippewas.
Senior first baseman Ryan Tulloch took advantage of his opportunities, finishing with two hits and three RBI's in his only start of the weekend.
The series victory is the Bulls' first conference opening series win since 2000. Torgalski believes a series victory over a solid MAC opponent will give his team the confidence it needs.
The Bulls will play at Canisius (15-7) Tuesday before heading off to Western Michigan (7-15, 3-0 MAC) this weekend for a three-game series.
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