Bulls renew local rivalries
Coming off of three straight losses against conference-foe Toledo, the baseball team played three games in two days against two local rivals.
The Bulls (15-15, 3-6 Mid-American Conference) hosted the St. Bonaventure Bonnies (5-18) in a non-conference, Big Four doubleheader on Tuesday afternoon at Amherst Audubon Field. A day later, the Niagara Purple Eagles (11-20) welcomed the Bulls to Sal Maglie Stadium for the Bulls' sixth game in five days.
But fatigue did not affect the Bulls' bats. After dropping its first game to the Bonnies 5-4, the Bulls rebounded in the nightcap and salvaged the doubleheader with a 12-2 win. The Bulls' offense continued its hot streak on Wednesday and posted its second-highest run total of the season with a 21-4 win against Niagara.
Head coach Ron Torgalski was very pleased with how his team responded to the grueling stretch of games.
"This was our sixth game in five days and I thought they might be tired," Torgalski said. "However, the energy was there and we played a good all-around game."
In the first game against the Bonnies, senior pitcher Brian Pullyblank competed in his third start of the season and went six innings in a 5-4 defeat.
Senior second baseman Brad Agustin played well in the loss. He went 2-for-2 at the plate with a double, two walks and one run scored.
After the tough loss in the first game, the Bulls turned to sophomore pitcher Kevin Crumb. Crumb came out throwing strikes and retired the first nine batters he faced.
"We tell our guys if you come out and throw strikes, we got a chance to make plays behind you," Torgalski said. "Kevin came out, threw strikes, and was pounding the zone and they were hitting balls at us."
The Bulls offense came out aggressive and gained an early 2-0 advantage, putting pressure on the St. Bonaventure defense. Buffalo stole four bases in the first inning alone.
"That's the way we want to play, we want to be aggressive," Torgalski said. "We got some guys in the front of the line up that run well, that do a great job of reading pitchers and getting jumps. I think we rattled them, they had a young catcher back there."
Buffalo's early surge snowballed and the game was never close. The Bulls pounded out 17 hits en route to a 12-2 victory. Eight of the nine players in the starting lineup scored at least one run, and the only player who didn't record a run was thrown out attempting to score on a close play at home.
In the fourth inning, the Bulls batted around as the team sent all nine batters to the plate at least once on their way to a six-run inning.
Pizzuto went 3-for-3 in the second game with a walk. He finished with two RBIs, two stolen bases and two runs scored.
The Bulls' offense wasn't the only bright spot. Crumb combined with junior pitcher Jeff Thompson to allow only three hits in the game.
Thompson earned the win, striking out four batters in three and one-third innings without allowing a run.
Agustin reached base 7-of-9 times on the day while batting in the lead-off spot. With the run he scored in the first inning of the first game, Agustin set the record for runs scored in a career for the Bulls with 137.
Against Niagara, Buffalo led 5-3 after four innings of baseball. From that point, Buffalo's offense erupted and scored nine runs in the top of the fifth, the most runs the team has scored in an inning this season.
Senior designated hitter Brad Cochrane and shortstop Jacob Rosenbeck got it started with back-to-back RBI singles, and the Bulls never looked back. Freshman third baseman Alex Baldock followed with a two-RBI base hit and the Bulls extended their lead to 10-3.
The Purple Eagles were forced to change pitchers, but it was to no avail. Freshman catcher Tom Murphy doubled to left in the first at bat against Niagara reliever Brett Sabourin.
Cochrane then recorded his third RBI of the inning with a two-run home run to centerfield. The Bulls finished up their scoring for the inning with an RBI single by senior right fielder Charlie Karstedt.
Buffalo scored their last two runs on the day in the ninth inning, bringing the team's scoring total to 21.
"Offensively, we were very aggressive," Torgalski said. "We had a great approach at the plate with two strikes and it showed as we were able to record 19 hits. We were also aggressive on the base paths and had a good amount of stolen bases."
Agustin and Lawler led the way with three hits apiece, while four other players had two hits each. Cochrane, Baldock, and Karstedt each recorded three RBIs on the day as well.
Hitting wasn't the only area in which the Bulls excelled at on Wednesday. Buffalo only committed one error, compared to six by Niagara.
Junior pitcher Mike Klaus earned his first career victory, striking out three batters over four innings.
Torgalski was especially pleased with the pitching performance.
"Most of our pitching staff was tired after this past stretch of games," Torgalski said. "The three guys who pitched today hadn't been getting a lot of time, and only gave up four runs over nine innings."
The Bulls will not get very much time to celebrate the win as they hit the road for a weekend series with Ball State (14-18, 5-1 MAC). The first pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3 p.m.