Baseball wins two of three in first weekend of MAC play
Senior outfielder Thomas Richards and the baseball team took two of three against Northern Illinois in their opening series of MAC play. The Bulls also traveled to Virginia, where they went 1-2 and lost to Canisius over Spring Break. Chad Cooper, The Spectrum
When head coach Ron Torgalski sat the baseball team down after a blowout loss Friday, he told the players to execute basic plays and play optimistically for the rest of the weekend and beyond.
The team's response: A nearly flawless two-game stretch to seal the weekend series.
The Bulls (10-7, 2-1 Mid-American Conference) got their first taste of MAC competition this weekend with a three-game series against Northern Illinois (3-17, 1-2 MAC) in Wheaton, Ill. Buffalo was able to shake off a rough, 15-9 loss Friday to win the next two games with fundamentally sound baseball and dominant pitching. The Bulls also traveled to Virginia for three games during Spring Break, and fell to Canisius, 12-11, March 19.
The series victory against Northern Illinois was the Bulls' 11th straight MAC series win dating back to 2012.
"I thought it was our worst game we played this year," Torgalski said of the first game. "When we made a mistake, we followed up with another one behind it."
Sophomore first baseman Tyler Mautner had an early two-run homerun down the left field line in the second inning, but the Huskies answered with seven unanswered runs.
The Bulls earned a 3-2 victory Saturday. Senior outfielder Matt Pollock contributed two quick RBIs in the first inning with a single to right field that gave Buffalo a lead it did not surrender. Senior outfielder Thomas Richards also contributed two hits and Mautner added one hit and a run.
Junior pitcher Anthony Magovney was dominant, stymieing the Huskies' bats, allowing only one run through six innings of work in the win. He improved to 5-0 with the victory.
"Every time [Magovney] goes out there, he throws strikes and allows the field to make plays," Torgalski said. "His pitching has been lights-out so far."
Senior infielder Mike Burke had an impressive weekend at the mound and plate. In the loss Friday, Burke was the only player to record a multi-hit game and smacked a homerun to dead center at the top of the fifth inning.
Burke took the mound Sunday and threw a seven-inning gem with 10 strikeouts, allowing only one run in a 3-1 win against the Huskies. Burke received honorable mention MAC Player of the Week.
"[Burke] swung the bat great all weekend, yet he comes out on Sunday and gives us an opportunity to win week in and week out," Torgalski said.
Buffalo lost to Rutgers (8-12), 6-3, in 10 innings March 14 to begin Spring Break. The Bulls scored all three of their runs in the first inning but were held scoreless for the remainder of the game, including in the bottom of the 10th, when they were unable to overcome a three-run deficit.
The Bulls defeated Lafayette (6-10), 2-1, March 15 behind seven scoreless innings from Magovney, who allowed one hit. Virginia Commonwealth (2-3, 3-0 Atlantic 10) blanked Buffalo, 1-0, earlier in the day.
The Bulls returned to Buffalo to take on Canisius (14-7, 3-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) March 19. Buffalo was down 10-8 heading into the ninth inning but scored three runs to take an 11-10 lead. But Canisius' Connor Panas hit a two-run, walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth to give the Griffs a 12-11 win.
The Bulls have yet to play or even practice on their home turf this season due to adverse weather conditions.
"The hardest thing for us so far is not being able to practice outside in order to prepare the team for in-game situations," Torgalski said. "As the weather improves, we will continue to work and improve to get to the MAC Championship."
The team has played 17 away games in a row to begin the season.
The Bulls play Ball State (16-8, 3-0 MAC) Friday-Sunday in their first home series of the season at Monroe Community College in Rochester. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.
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