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Friday, June 21, 2024
The independent student publication of The University at Buffalo, since 1950

Poor Conditions Give Way to Poor Performances

After swinging through the southwest to start the season, the baseball team found itself in cold and unfamiliar territory on a weekend that should have been a warm welcome home.

With threats of inclement weather looming, the Bulls (7-18, 0-6 Mid-American Conference) played a three-game series against Northern Illinois (10-14, 4-2 MAC) at St. Bonaventure's McGraw-Jennings Field. Buffalo dropped all three games to the Huskies, 9-4, 12-4 and 7-0, respectively.

The Bulls' pitchers were practically powerless against Northern Illinois' batters throughout the weekend. The staff could not maintain any pressure on its opponents late in the games. Head coach Ron Torgalski noted the team's late-game weakness as a major problem in recent games.

"The bullpen has been awful for the past seven games," Torgalski said. "You know, our starting pitching has been decent. These past few weekends they've given us a good five, six innings, but when we turn to our bullpen later in games, we're not getting the kind of performance we need."

The Huskies gained their lead in the top of the third inning in game one, scoring four quick runs. Although the Bulls' batters got hot late in the seventh inning, with home runs from sophomore outfielder Matt Pollock and sophomore catcher Tom Murphy, Northern Illinois was able to stay a few steps ahead of its surging opponent and gave junior pitcher Kevin Crumb his fourth loss of the season.

The second game wasn't any better for the Bulls. The Huskies finished the game with 17 hits, compared to Buffalo's eight. After a solo home run from Pollock in the first inning, the team was held scoreless until the bottom of the eighth. By that time, it was already too late for the Bulls, who were trailing by 10 runs.

Buffalo couldn't get anything going in the third game of the series either, finishing with just four hits and no runs. Junior pitcher Cameron Copping started the game for the Bulls and went six innings and allowed only four hits, striking out five batters and only allowing one run by the end of his time on the mound.

Once Copping gave up the helm, the game fell apart. The Bulls' hitters never made much of an impact, while the Huskies tore Buffalo's bullpen apart for six more runs in the last three innings of the game.

The lack of offense for the Bulls in the weekend series is something to worry about, but Torgalski believes that some of the team's struggles are understandable when you look at the makeup of the roster.

"I think a lot of it has to do with inexperience," Torgalski said. "We have seven of our top nine position players who are [in their] first year and who haven't been through it at this level. They haven't faced the arms that we've been facing, and they haven't been acclimated to these kinds of pressure situations. We're not hitting hard when guys are on base, which is what we were doing in the beginning and need to do, but I think it might be a lack of focus."

The only real bright spot for the Bulls at the plate in the series was Pollock. Although he was held hitless in game three, he finished the first two games with three home runs and six hits.

The team was originally scheduled to have its home opener against Canisius (12-16, 4-2 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) this week, but bad weather has forced the game to be played 30 minutes away in an indoor facility.

The Bulls face off against the Golden Griffins Wednesday in a double-header at the Demske Sports Complex. First pitch is at 1 p.m. with the second game following immediately.

Email: sports@ubspectrum.com


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