Bulls walk-off in back-to-back games, sweep series against Western Michigan
Last weekend against Central Michigan (22-14, 10-2 Mid-American Conference), senior pitcher/infielder Mike Burke set the program record for career-victories with 18. It took Burke thousands of pitches to complete the record. This weekend, it only took two pitches for the baseball team to set a record of its own.
The Bulls (16-12, 7-4 MAC) completed back-to-back walk-off victories for the first time in program history on Friday and Saturday for two wins of a three-game series sweep against Western Michigan (13-18, 4-8 MAC) at Monroe Community College in Rochester. The Bulls did not need a walk-off hit on Sunday, as they defeated the Broncos 7-3 to complete the sweep.
"We competed all weekend, we hit when we needed to hit" said head coach Ron Torgalski. "We got better as the weekend progressed."
The Bulls had to erase late deficits in both of their walk-off victories. Buffalo trailed 7-5 heading into the eighth inning Friday.
"We preach about giving the next guy an opportunity and we kept doing that," Torgalski said. "It was an overall great team effort where balls just kept being put in play."
After getting one run in the eight off of a sacrifice fly from senior shortstop Mike Scarcello, the Bulls began their ninth inning comeback bid off a Broncos error and a hustle play from sophomore outfielder Nick Sinay.
Sinay hit a routine fly ball to left-center field, but the sun and the height of the ball caused the Broncos centerfielder to drop it, allowing Sinay to advance to second on the error.
"It didn't surprise me because Sinay is always making heads up plays," Torgalski said. "He uses his tremendous speed to his advantage and does the little things to get on base."
With Sinay on second, senior outfielder Matt Pollock drove him in with a double down the leftfield line to tie the game. After Buffalo loaded the bases with two outs, senior catcher Kyle Figgins stepped to the plate and drew the game-winning walk, securing the victory for the Bulls.
Fewer than 24 hours later, the baseball team trailed 4-1 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. After scoring three runs due to contributions from a plethora of players, including an RBI single from freshman outfielder Vinny Mallaro, the game was tied at 4.
Pollock stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on third and hit a sharp single into left field. The hit resulted in the game-winning run and captured the Bulls' second walk-off win in fewer than 24 hours.
The Bulls' pitchers were on point all weekend, starting with a strong performance from senior pitcher Kevin Hughes. Hughes allowed just two earned runs in 7.1 innings on Friday. Junior pitcher Anthony Magovney followed up that start with a quality start of his own, hurling 6.2 innings while only allowing three earned runs on Saturday.
Burke took the mound Sunday and picked up where he left off last week, throwing a complete game with nine strikeouts to improve his record to 5-2 on the season in the 7-3 win.
Burke has now thrown a complete game in three of his four MAC starts to begin the conference season.
The offense did its part on Sunday as well, led by a three-RBI day from Pollock and two hits and two runs scored by senior outfielder Jimmy Topps.
It was the Bulls' first weekend sweep since February 21-23 and is also their first MAC sweep of the season.
"This series was huge for us," Torgalski said. "It pulls us right back into MAC competition."
Buffalo returns to the field Tuesday when it hosts Niagara (10-20, 3-6 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) in the first games played at Amherst Audobon Field this season. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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