Bulls on the ball in series finale
After dropping the first two contests of a three-game series, the baseball team was able to rebound with an extra-innings win to salvage the weekend series and top a conference foe.
The Bulls (16-17, 4-8 Mid-American Conference) traveled to Muncie, Ind., for a weekend series with MAC West leaders, Ball State (16-19, 9-3 MAC). After dropping the series opener 11-5, the Bulls fell just short in game two, 6-5. In game three, however, Buffalo would take the Cardinals to the brink.
In an 11-inning affair, the Bulls pulled away with an 11-7 victory for the program's first ever win against Ball State.
"With the tradition that they have and the way they win every year, to be able to go down there and take one, and come that close to taking two out of three from them on their field says a lot about the way our kids played," said Bulls' head coach Ron Torgalski.
In game one on Friday afternoon, the Bulls had to battle inclement weather as the game was delayed 90 minutes due to rain. When officials ruled field conditions playable, Torgalski sent senior pitcher Chaz Mye to the mound for his eighth start of the season.
The southpaw struck out six Cardinals over five innings in the loss dropping his record to 3-4 on the season.
Shortstop T.J. Baumet led off the game for the Cardinals with a home run to right-center field. The Cardinals tacked on another run in the inning, making the score 2-0.
After a scoreless second frame, the Bulls cut into the deficit as senior second basemen Brad Agustin scored a run on an unassisted ground out to the first basemen.
That was the closest the Bulls would get as Ball State went on to score four runs in the bottom of the third to extend their lead to 6-1. After a five-run outburst in the sixth, the Cardinals extended their lead to 11-1.
The Bulls scored a run in each of the final three innings, but it wasn't enough as Ball State held on for the victory.
In game two on Saturday afternoon, the Bulls came out seeking a win after suffering a loss less than 24 hours before.
The game remained scoreless after the first inning before senior center fielder Adam Skonieczki gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead with solo home run to right field at the start of the second inning.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Agustin cleared the bases with a single up the middle to give the Bulls a 3-0 edge.
Two batters later, senior designated hitter Brad Cochrane hit an RBI single and Agustin scored to extend the Bulls a lead to 4-0.
The Bulls pushed across another run in the top of the third to make it a 5-0 game but the Cardinals stormed back with three runs in the bottom half of the third to cut Buffalo's lead to two.
The Cardinals then scored one run in each of the next three innings to take a 6-5 lead after six innings.
Skoneiczki had two chances to bring the Bulls back and each time was reminded why baseball in the game of inches.
With runners on second and third in the seventh inning, Skonieczki hit a shot down the line that just bent into foul territory. In the ninth inning, Skonieczki again found himself at bat with runners in scoring position. With two outs on the board, Skonieczki made solid contact and the ball looked to be heading over the fence. Unfortunately, Skonieczki's shot fell just short and landed in the outfielder's glove on the warning track to end the game.
Still hoping to capture the school's first win over the Cardinals, Torgalski and company went into game three confident they could take the final contest before heading home.
Down 4-1 going into the top of the sixth inning, Agustin hit a two-run home run to right field to cut the lead to 4-3.
The Bulls took a 5-4 lead in the top of the eighth inning after Cochrane singled through the right side of the infield. The Cardinals got one back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning on a solo home run.
The Bulls regained the lead in the top of the ninth inning by scoring two runs on a pair of RBI hits by Agustin and junior right fielder David Neff.
True to nature, the Cardinals came back and tied the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings tied at seven.
In the top of the eleventh, Agustin continued his torrid day as he gave the Bulls a 9-7 lead with a two-run single. Senior left fielder Bobby Pizzuto followed up with a two-run homer to extend the Bulls lead to 11-7.
Senior pitcher Brian Pullyblank shut down the Cardinals for good in the bottom of the eleventh inning to earn his second victory of the season over three innings of work.
It marked the first ever win for the Bulls over perennial contender Ball State. In the victory the Bulls pounded out 23 hits, including five homeruns.
"I thought we were aggressive at the plate today, we had some clutch hitting with guys in scoring position with two outs," Torgalski said.
Agustin went 5-for-6 in the series finale with five RBI's and hit his sixth home run of the season.
The Bulls begin a five-game home stand on Tuesday as they face local rival Canisus at Amherst Audubon Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.