Baseball sweeps Zips in rain-shortened series
Baseball coach Ron Torgalski has his team in good position as the Bulls near the program's all-time single-season wins record. It would be great to send some of these seniors out with an East division title and we are three weekends away, he said. Spectrum File Photo
When sophomore pitcher Mike McGee was pulled in the bottom of the second inning in the series opener against Akron (9-31, 6-11 Mid-American Conference) on Friday night, the Bulls' streak of conference series-opening wins seemed to be very much in jeopardy.
McGee allowed five runs in just an inning and two thirds and the Bulls (23-18, 13-4 MAC) trailed 5-1.
But then Buffalo did what it has done all season. The team didn't panic and it went to work on offense, rallying to holding the Zips' lead to only four runs. The Bulls then scored three of their own in the third inning before taking the lead for good with a two-run sixth inning, finally winning 7-6.
In what was a shortened series due to a rain out on Sunday afternoon, the Bulls swept their second straight opponent, putting their conference win streak at six games, dating back to April 14.
When the Bulls were in Ohio, their final game was cancelled due to the weather, while Buffalo featured some of the nicest weather so far this year.
"I thought we had a good chance at having another three-game sweep," said head coach Ron Torgalski. "We were disappointed."
The Bulls didn't mind playing on the road. Despite falling behind early on Friday, they rallied behind 11 hits to score seven runs in the victory.
Buffalo put up a total of 14 runs on 20 hits, including eight extra-base hits, in just two games.
On Saturday, senior outfielder Jason Kanzler hit his MAC-leading eighth home run - his first since April 5 - in the third inning to give the Bulls a 1-0 lead, which they held onto.
The Bulls' offense was given a boost by shoddy defensive play from the Zips. Akron committed four errors on Saturday, which led to five unearned Buffalo runs.
Despite McGee's lack of control on Friday, the pitching was sharp. Freshman Ben Hartz and senior River McWilliams combined to pitch 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball.
McWilliams was particularly dominant. He threw three scoreless innings on Friday, allowing just two hits and striking out three, and earned his ninth save of the season.
He returned to the mound on Saturday for just 1/3 of an inning, striking out the only batter he faced on four pitches, earning his 10th save of the year.
"He wants the ball every day," Torgalski said. "If we played today, I would have used him today. He was ready to go. He is a guy that loves a challenge late in the game and has stepped up all year long for us."
The Bulls were forced to settle for the two-game sweep due to the rain out.
Saturday's win was Buffalo's 23rd of the season, which ties the Bulls' modern-era record.
The wins record isn't on their mind, though.
"The ultimate goal for us to get to the conference tournament and try to win a conference tournament," Torgalski said. "Right now we are in first place and we are trying to play to stay there. It would be great to send some of these seniors out with an East division title and we are three weekends away. If we take care of business these last three weekends, it's within reach."
The Bulls will host Canisius (31-11, 9-6 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) on Wednesday at Amherst Audubon Field. The Bulls have dropped the first three meetings with the Golden Griffins. On Friday, the Bulls will take on Ohio (12-31, 7-12 MAC) in their final conference home stand of the season. Wednesday's first pitch is slated for 3 p.m.
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