For two months last summer, Lee Nickell made his case to become Buffalo's men's tennis head coach. Former coach Sherif Zaher resigned in April to return to Egypt, and Athletic Director Warde Manuel's search for a replacement went national. Manuel was determined to find the guy who would make Buffalo's tennis program relevant.
The rowing team topped five crews to win the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association Championships on Sunday in Sandy Run, Va. Buffalo competed along with Northeastern, Drexel, George Mason, Delaware and Old Dominion in three events on the Occoquan Reservoir in pursuit of the CAA crown.
Following the departure of Turner Gill in December, questions surfaced at UB Stadium as to whether or not the football program would fall back to the bottom of Division I football, where it had been a mainstay since entering the Mid-American Conference in 1998.
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. E-mail: email@example.com
After recording consecutive losses against Ball State on Friday, the softball team looked to turn around the rest of their weekend when they took on the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks in just their third home game this season. The Bulls (14-24, 4-6 Mid-American Conference) started out strong as they took down the RedHawks (20-19, 5-5 MAC) in Saturday's opener at Nan Harvey Field, 4-1. Assistant coach Jessica Jones thought the Bulls performed well. "We played well against Miami in both games, and we actually had an opportunity to win the second game as well," Jones said. "Any time you're in both games, you have to be proud of your kids. Obviously we can do better, but we're improving every game." After a scoreless first inning, Buffalo struck in the bottom of the second. Senior pitcher Sharon Barr reached first base on a walk and she advanced to second on a single to right field by freshman infielder Alyssa Ward. Freshman infielder Andi Saucier then drove a single to center field to bring Barr home, giving the Bulls an early 1-0 lead. Miami answered back. Freshman Taylor Rice tied the game up with a homerun in the top of the third inning, however, the RedHawks would be unable to plate any more runs for the remainder of the contest. In the bottom of the third inning, freshman infielder Kristin Waldron singled down the middle. Freshman infielder Jessica Griffin followed up with a double to right-center field to drive in Waldron and regain the lead for the Bulls. Buffalo struck again in the bottom of the fifth as junior outfielder Candice Sheehan drew a walk to reach first before senior outfielder Kristen Gallipani came in to pinch run. Freshman infielder Ashley Bertot reached first on a fielder's choice and Gallipani moved to second. Both Gallipani and Bertot stole a base, putting two runners in scoring position. Gallipani then scored an unearned run on a fielding error by Miami's shortstop to put Buffalo up, 3-1. The Bulls finished off the RedHawks with a late homer in the bottom of the sixth. Saucier knocked one over the center field fence for her first collegiate home run to secure the victory. Barr pitched a complete game and earned her 12th win of the season. She struck out six batters over seven innings and allowed only three hits and one walk. Game two of the doubleheader began much like earlier in the day as the teams closed out a scoreless first inning. But the Bulls once again jumped out to an early lead following a solo home run by Barr in the bottom of the second. A series of wild pitches in the top of the third allowed the RedHawks to take the lead. Sophomore Daniela Torres hit a single down the middle to take first and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore Jordan McElroy took first on a walk before a second wild pitch moved each player ahead a base. Jones said that the RedHawks' runs were not a direct result of the wild pitches. "There were a lot of different factors that fell into [the RedHawks] scoring in that particular inning," Jones said. "Barr obviously threw a phenomenal day; she threw both games. With them scoring in that particular inning, they kind of had her number. She was trying to throw around them a little bit. It got away from our catcher and also they had some timely hits. It was just unfortunate that it moved the runners into scoring position at that moment." Miami junior Meghan Mawn brought home both Torres and McElroy with a double to left field to give the RedHawks a 2-1 advantage. Down one, Saucier started the fifth inning for Buffalo with a single to third base. Gallipani took first after being hit by a pitch and Bertot laid a sacrifice bunt to advance Gallipani and pinch runner Lindsay Hampton. Hampton was called out at home on a fielder's choice as Waldron took first base and Gallipani advanced to third. With two outs and two runners on base, the Bulls could not convert in their final at-bat. The RedHawks held on to the narrow 2-1 lead to seal the victory. Barr pitched another complete game and recorded five strikeouts for Buffalo. The Bulls face the Niagara Purple Eagles (11-13, 4-2 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) in a non-conference doubleheader today at Nan Harvey Field. Game one is set to get under way at 3 p.m. "Niagara is a hitting team, so we're going to have the pitchers do a pretty decent workout to make sure that they're prepared for hitting their spots and trying to shut down their defense," Jones said. "But our whole team is going to be focused on offense." E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The notion of a Mid-American Conference Championship seemed like a pipe dream at the start of the season for the men's tennis team. Coming off a 1-4 record in the MAC last year, it was only reasonable to expect a middle of the pack finish from Buffalo.
Buffalo has never been known for it's baseball tradition, but with experienced players on its roster, one particular Bull expects his team to qualify for its first Mid-American Conference tournament in school history.
The NBA playoffs begin this Saturday and the matchups are now set. After 40 games in 40 nights, we'll have several questions answered after a long NBA season. Will "King James" finally take a seat on his thrown? Would a championship ring be enough to keep LeBron in Cleveland? Can Kobe Bryant return to the top of the mountain once again and inch closer to the legacy that Michael Jordan left behind? Can Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki capitalize on a key mid-season trade to win their first ever NBA Title? Here at The Spectrum, we'll take a look at the first round matchups and look forward to the NBA Finals. EASTERN CONFERENCE #1 Cleveland Cavaliers vs. #8 Chicago Bulls Typically, the No. 1 versus No. 8 matchup is an afterthought. This series may be no different, but there are a few interesting storylines. Chicago and Cleveland split the season series and Chicago took the last meeting against a Lebron-less Cavalier team, 109-108. Derrick Rose is a force and showed in last year's playoffs that he can lead a team when the Bulls fell just short of beating the No. 2-seed Celtics, 4-3. If the Bulls can steal a game in Cleveland, this could be an interesting series. But Cleveland has too much firepower to suffer an upset. Cavs in five #2 Orlando Magic vs. #7 Charlotte Bobcats Charlotte is a young team on the rise and has a great coach in Larry Brown. With that being said, they have no chance in this series. Vince Carter looks like he found a time machine this season and is playing like the all-star he once was. Dwight Howard is as dominating a force as any other player in the league today, and the Bobcats will be no match for either of them. Magic in four #3 Atlanta Hawks vs. #6 Milwaukee Bucks About three weeks ago, this series would have been an early favorite for best first round matchup. Unfortunately, Bucks' star center Andrew Bogut went out for the season with an injury, thus rendering the Bucks helpless. Brandon Jennings and John Salmons are good players, but they will not be enough to take out Joe Johnson and the Hawks. If Josh Smith plays well in this series, it could build some confidence and help the Hawks advance in later rounds. Hawks in five #4 Boston Celtics vs. #5 Miami Heat This may be the most interesting series in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. Dwayne Wade is an elite talent in this league and has shown on a consistent basis that he has what it takes to lead his team deep into the playoffs. Kevin Garnett and company aren't getting any younger, but if they play with a chip on their shoulder, the Celtics will be tough to beat. The series will come down to who wants it more and whether or not the Heat can get enough production from their role players. Boston in seven WESTERN CONFERENCE #1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. #8 Oklahoma City Thunder This is going to be a fun series to watch. Kevin Durant, this season's scoring champion, has been incredible in his third year as a pro. With a core of young, talented teammates accompanying Durant, the Thunder have the assets to give the perennial Western Conference champs a run for their money. While the Lakers took three of four in the regular season from Oklahoma City, there are some serious question marks surrounding Los Angeles. Injuries have hurt the yellow and purple, and they will need a healthy Andrew Bynum if they want to win another title. Kobe Bryant will be the focus of the series, but watch for Jeff Green of the Thunder to be a key player. If he provides scoring and solid rebounding, the Lakers are going to have their hands full. As good as Durant is and as bright of a future he has in store, it's not his time to shine yet. Lakers in six #2 Dallas Mavericks vs. #7 San Antonio Spurs The Mavericks have one of the most talented teams in the league from top to bottom and the Spurs pose little threat to Dirk and company. Long-time all-star Tim Duncan has showed a bit of wear and tear this season and Tony Parker is less than 100 percent. With a less than stellar supporting cast and little depth, Manu Ginobili will not be able to take out the Mavs single handedly. Jason Kidd doesn't have much time left and will be motivated to grab his first ring. Mavs in five #3 Phoenix Suns vs. #6 Portland Blazers If Brandon Roy were healthy, this would be the best Western Conference quarterfinals series. Roy is so dynamic and his play makes everyone around him better. As Roy's status remains in question, Steve Nash and Amare Stoudamire should be able to handle the Blazers and move on to the conference semifinals. Suns in five #4 Denver Nuggets vs. #5 Utah Jazz The Nuggets really hurt themselves down the stretch with poor play. The bad stretch dropped the team to fourth in the West and cemented their spot in a slugfest with the Jazz. Both teams feature great point guards and if the Nuggets can shake off the cobwebs, they should be able to take out the Jazz. Carmelo Anthony is an assassin and knows how to win. If Denver can get out of the series, head coach George Karl will return to the bench for round two – just in time for the Lakers. The Nuggets could ride a wave of emotion to the NBA Finals, but they have to be willing to pay the price against a gritty Utah squad. Give the slight edge to Anthony and the Nuggets. Nuggets in seven Predictions East Final: Cavaliers over Magic West Final: Mavericks over Lakers NBA FINALS: Cavaliers over Mavericks in seven games
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. E-mail: email@example.com
Sophomore pitcher Terese Diaz and the softball team showed little mercy against rival St. Bonaventure in Wednesday afternoon's doubleheader, outscoring the Bonnies 19-7 to take both games on the day. In their home opener, Buffalo (13-21, 3-3 Mid-American Conference) followed a 7-0 shutout victory with a 12-7 win over St. Bonaventure (7-16) to give home fans something to smile about at Nan Harvey Field. In the first game, Diaz recorded the first no-hitter of her career. In striking out 16 batters, Diaz set a new Buffalo single game school record, breaking the previous record of 12. The Bulls' offense supported Diaz with a solid offensive performance. Buffalo scored two early runs in the bottom of the first off key RBI singles from freshman infielders HYPERLINK "http://www.ubathletics.buffalo.edu/softball/roster/ward.shtml"Alyssa Ward and HYPERLINK "http://www.ubathletics.buffalo.edu/softball/roster/griffin.shtml"Jessica Griffin. In the bottom of the third, Griffin hit a home run off opposing pitcher Sherri Thompson with freshman infielder Kristin Waldron on base to increase the Buffalo lead to 4-0. Griffin led the team at the plate, finishing the day with five hits, six RBIs and two home runs. Buffalo took full advantage of St. Bonaventure's mistakes, turning the Bonnies' errors in the third inning into runs on the scoreboard. Assistant coach Jessica Jones had much praise for how her young team came together. "St. Bonaventure definitely left some bases open for us and we took full advantage," Jones said. "The girls are starting to focus on playing UB softball as opposed to just focusing on their opponents. These wins are definitely a confident booster." Diaz took the mound for the second game as well in relief of senior pitcher Sharon Barr, who gave up three earned runs on three hits and four walks in four and one-third innings. With Buffalo sitting on a comfortable 10-1 lead, Diaz struck out four batters to preserve the win in two and two-third innings pitched. Offensively, Waldron, Griffin, Ward and junior HYPERLINK "http://www.ubathletics.buffalo.edu/softball/roster/sheehan.shtml"Alex Bejarano all hit home runs as the Bulls scored in all but the fifth inning. The Bonnies scored a majority of their runs between the fourth and sixth innings to give UB a late scare, but could not complete the comeback. "When you're opponent falls behind, they start to play like they have nothing to lose, so they just start swinging" Jones said. "We didn't worry and it wouldn't rattle our girls too much." UB will host co-MAC leaders Ball State and Miami this weekend. The weekend will begin with a doubleheader against Ball State at 1 p.m. on Friday. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since the invention of baseball, the concept of the game has captured Americans across the country. Like any other sport, however, not everyone could play competitively. In 1953, David Mullany created a variation of the game that would later be named wiffleball. Since that time, people, young and old, have swung for the fences in backyards everywhere hoping to generate that rare feeling of blasting a ball into a neighbor's yard. While baseball hasn't changed much over the years, wiffleball has gone through several facelifts. It started with a simple ball and thin yellow bat. Since then, you can walk into any toy store today and find balls as big as grapefruits and bats that look like they came straight out of the Flintstones. The newest enhancement comes in the form of the Blitzball. Crafted to be the most realistic baseball-like experience in the wiffleball community, its shape and design make the ball's speed and movement unlike any wiffleball experience in the past. Aaron Kim, creator of the Blitzball, has been perfecting his invention for some time now. "I came up with the original Blitzball concept around 4-5 years ago with the idea that a flat sided ball would allow for super curveballs by deflecting airflow better when spun," Kim said. "My original prototype looked something like a rounded cube. It didn't work very well and then I just made a series of improvements since then." Wiffleballs are notorious for the intense spin that can be applied to a pitch and the Blitzball takes this feature to another level. The Blitzball mimics the actual mechanics of a real baseball, which allows pitchers to throw the ball just like they would a normal baseball. Hitters are able to swing freely, as well, as the ball travels farther than a normal wiffleball. Kim and other Blitzball users agree that the distance factor is huge when deciding which product to use. "I think that baseball novices will prefer the Blitzball over traditional wiffleballs because of the substantially improved distance you get when you hit it," Kim said. Although Blitzball seems to be a solid new product, whether or not it can make a dent in the wiffleball market remains to be seen. Kim has been a lifelong fan of the wiffleball and doesn't know for sure if his product will be able to replace the American classic. With that said, he does think that people who sample his product will have a tough decision to make. "I think that people who try the Blitzball for the first time will be quite surprised by the improved action that you get," Kim said. "In another 50 years, who knows?" A few important questions came to mind when looking into the Blitzball, none more glaring than its durability. After seeing it batted around the diamond, it is safe to say that the ball can take some punishment. Kim explained that the Blitzball is made with the highest quality materials and if a customer finds any defects in the ball, a full refund will be issued. An interesting incentive to trying out the Blitzball is a contest the company started last year. Anyone who has purchased a Blitzball can film a home video of the Blitzball in action and submit it for a chance to win $1,200. The company uses their Facebook following as judges and the top three videos win a prize. Kim feels this customer interaction goes a long way towards building a fan base for the Blitzball. "Since we have such a tiny advertising budget compared to other guys like Wiffle, we have to be more creative with our marketing ideas," Kim said. Anyone interested in a Blitzball can visit the website at collegehillgames.com. The current promotion lets a customer purchase four Blitzballs for $11.99. Whether or not the Blitzball will catch on remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure -- a bunch of people are going to have a lot of fun testing it out. And in the end, that is what this game is all about. E-mail: email@example.com
The softball team traveled to Ohio in search of their first win over a Mid-American Conference foe since 2005. After a tough first day, Buffalo finally broke the trend. Things didn't start off as planed for the Bulls (11-21, 3-3 MAC) as they fell to the Kent State Golden Flashes (17-16, 4-2 MAC) in the opener on Saturday, 8-2. After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning, Kent State scored the game's first run on a solo homer by Amy Hair in the bottom of the second frame. Buffalo played small ball to tie the game in the third inning after converting on a walk, a bunt single and a balk that set up a sacrifice fly by junior right fielder Candace Sheehan. Hair countered with her second homerun of the day in the fourth inning to headline a four-run outburst by the Golden Flashes. KSU scored another run in the fifth inning on a solo long shot by Jess Carmichael. The Bulls scored their second and final run in the top of the sixth. Sheehan led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Sophomore catcher Kristin Waldron then drove Sheehan home on a double. Kent State responded once again with two more runs in the bottom of the sixth and coasted the rest of the way to earn the victory. "We knew we were going to face [Kent State's] number one pitcher, Kylie Reynolds," said Assistant Coach Jessica Jones. "She has a great curveball and we focused on our offense to make sure we weren't just guessing. We did a decent job going into the first game, but we seemed to have a mind block and were still very passive at the plate." Sophomore pitcher Terese Diaz started the game for Buffalo and struck out two batters in only one inning of work. Senior pitcher Sharon Barr earned the loss in relief despite retiring eight batters over five innings. Sunday's game was a different story as the Bulls tallied seven hits en route to a 2-1 victory for the program's first win over Kent State in five years. Buffalo struck first in the opening inning as freshman left fielder Ashley Bertot led off with a single and then stole second base. Waldron followed with a single to set up an RBI opportunity for freshman first baseman Jessica Griffin. Griffin delivered with a single to left to score Bertot. A wild pitch by Reynolds gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead after the first. The Golden Flashes threatened in the bottom of the first, but left the bases loaded for a second consecutive day. Kent State's Mary Holt cut the lead in half with a solo home run in the fourth, but that was all that the Golden Flashes could muster against Barr in game two. The Bulls stranded two runners on base in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings but their two first-inning runs held up to notch the victory. Five different players had at least one hit on the afternoon. In her second contest in two days, Barr pitched a complete game and struck out 11 batters. Jones was very pleased with how the team played. "We watched a video of the game on Saturday night as a team and each player critiqued how we played," Jones said. "A hitter can learn a lot about their game when they see themselves on the screen. We responded very well on Sunday and used a full team effort to beat a solid Kent State team that is tied for first in the MAC." The Bulls will try to earn consecutive victories when they make their season debut at Nan Harvey Field against St. Bonaventure (7-14, 2-6 Atlantic-10 Conference) on Wednesday. "We are in a great place right now," Jones said. "We are playing with high energy. We are close-knit and we have great chemistry. We are just going to keep doing what we're doing and our play will continue to improve." First pitch is set for 3 p.m. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
As Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins prepare to begin their Stanley Cup defense tonight against the Ottawa Senators, we take a look at the field of 16 vying to claim Lord Stanley as their own. From team previews to finals predictions, The Spectrum will get you set for the run at the cup. Eastern Conference 1. Washington Capitals (54-15-13, 121 pts.) It has been four years since the league has seen a team as dominant as the Capitals were this season. They are the first team since the 2005-2006 season to score more than 300 goals and clinched the Presidents' Trophy with more than a week remaining in the regular season. Led by Alex Ovechkin, the Caps boast the league's most dangerous offense that includes seven players with 20 or more goals. Ovechkin topped the 50-goal mark for the fourth time in his five-year career and Nicklas Backstrom quietly amassed 101 points. 2. New Jersey Devils (48-27-7, 103 pts.) The Devils edged Pittsburgh for the Atlantic crown in the final home stretch of the season thanks to a stingy defense and perpetually strong goaltending. Jacques Lemaire's offense finished 19th in the league with just 216 goals for after he failed to find cohesive line combinations. The team has star forwards Ilya Kovalchuck, Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner to carry the load, but all eyes will be on 17-year veteran Martin Brouder to backstop the team in between the pipes. Brouder led all goalies in wins this season with 45 as the Devils allowed league-low 186 goals. 3. Buffalo Sabres (45-27-10, 100 pts.) After a two-year hiatus, Buffalo is back in the postseason after winning the Northeast division thanks to arguably the best goalie in the world, Ryan Miller. The 29-year-old posted a 41-18-8 record with a 2.22 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 69 games this year. Lindy Ruff's plan for the future has finally panned out as Derek Roy, Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville stepped into the vacant skates left by Chris Drury and Daniel Briere to provide leadership and consistent production. Roy led the team in scoring for the third-straight season with 26 goals and 69 points while Vanek led the club in goals with 28. Pominville also netted 24 while veteran Jochen Hecht added 21. Defenseman Tyler Myers amassed 11 goals and 37 assists in his rookie year. The Calder Trophy candidate has quickly become the team's top blue-liner and has provided a physical force alongside veterans Henrik Tallinder, Steve Montador and Tony Lydman. 4. Pittsburgh Penguins (47 -28-7, 101 pts.) The defending champions enter the postseason as the fourth seed for the second straight year. After upsetting Detroit in game seven of last year's finals, the Penguins failed to produce the consistent play that they had hoped for entering the season. But last year's cup run has given the team plenty of playoff experience to emerge as contenders once again. Sidney Crosby hit the 50-goal plateau for the first time in his career after finishing with 51 scores. The Rocket Richard Trophy co-winner is accompanied by centers Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Stall, as well as Alex Ponikarovsky, Bill Guerin and Ruslan Fedotenko as the Penguins' leader's up-front. Marc-Andre Fleury will need to play consistent in net if Pittsburgh plans to repeat. 5. Ottawa Senators (44-32-6, 94 pts.) The Senators exceeded expectations this season after the emergence of strong goaltending from youngster Brian Elliot gave life to the team midway through the season. Cory Clouston took over the bench at the beginning of February and led the club to a 19-11-4 finish, including nine-straight home wins, in the last two months. Elliot will be making his NHL playoff debut after posting a 2.57 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and 29 wins in 55 appearances. The young netminder will have plenty of help from his defensive unit, which accumulated 721 blocked shots between five blue-liners. 6. Boston Bruins (39-30-13, 91 pts.) It was a letdown in "Beantown" this year as the Bruins failed to replicate their success from last season. After trading away star forward Phil Kessel, the team struggled to muster much offense and finished last in the league with just 196 goals. Marco Sturm was the team's only 20-goal scorer while Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci tied for the team lead in scoring with 52 points. Boston's hopes lye on the shoulders of rookie goaltender Tuukka Rask, who won the job over Olympian Tim Thomas halfway through the season. Appearing in 45 games, Rask posted a dazzling 1.97 goals-against average and .931 save percentage – both league bests. With a defensive unit decimated by injury, it'll be up to Rask to keep Boston off the golf course. 7. Philadelphia Flyers (41-35-6, 88 pts.) Philadelphia snuck into the playoffs on the final day of the regular season with a shootout win over the Rangers. Despite finishing just 4-5-1 in their last five games, the Flyers cemented a matchup with division rival New Jersey, who they were 5-1 against this season. The Flyers were a bit of a disappointment after many had pegged them as Stanley Cup favorites prior to the season. Mike Richards led the team in scoring with 62 points, while Jeff Carter led the orange and black with 33 goals. Goaltending was miserable for the Flyers as starter Brian Boucher posted a 9-18-3 record with a 2.76 goals-against average and .899 save percentage. Boucher's strong play at the end of the season will need to continue if the Flyers have any chance of advancing 8. Montreal Canadians (39-33-10, 88 pts.) The Habs finished 33 points behind first-round opponent Washington and have an uphill battle to climb if they want to hoist Lord Stanley. The club had an inconsistent season and finished the year winning just three of their final 11 games. Montreal will rely heavily on Jaroslav Halak to provide strong goaltending, but will be on a thin wire with Carey Price waiting in the wings. The Canadians enter the postseason as heavy underdogs and will likely be cleaning out their lockers in quick fashion. Western Conference 1. San Jose Sharks (51-20-11, 113 pts.) Spring has been unkind to the Sharks. San Jose made to the Western Conference semifinals three of the last four years but failed to win more than two games. At the top of the west for the second-straight season, the Sharks are looking to end their playoff futility behind the top offensive line of Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton and Dany Heatley. The Sharks' offense is sure to generate goals as San Jose boasts a lineup with five 20-goal scorers. San Jose will need goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to improve on his 32-31 lifetime postseason record if the team has aspirations for a Stanley Cup birth. 2. Chicago Blackhawks (52-22-8, 112 pts.) The Original Six squad has Chicago excited about hockey again. Behind young stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith, the Blackhawks have a core of exciting players who can score (eight players scored 17 or more goals in the regular season) and wear down opposing defenses. Like San Jose, the question remains on goaltending. Both Cristobal Huet and rookie Antti Niemi, who replaced Huet as the starter, are inconsistent. They have a solid defense protecting them, but who knows what'll happen when Chicago runs into an offensive powerhouse. 3. Vancouver Canucks (49-28-5, 103 pts.) Vancouver has a questionable defense behind a deep and talented offensive front. Art Ross Trophy winner Henrik Sedin will lead the strong offense, but defender Willie Mitchell sustained a concussion and Sami Salo suffered an injury before the Canucks' last game. Goaltender Roberto Luongo is one of the best in the league, but needs the blue-liners in front of him to prevent an all-out assault on his net. 4. Phoenix Coyotes (50-25-7, 107 pts.) Last summer, the question was where the Coyotes would end up. The least possible answer was the playoffs. Now, they have home-ice advantage in the first round. Phoenix will ride breakout goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, but the team drew Detroit, the hottest team in the NHL. In front of Bryzgalov is a defense that ranked third in goals against per game. But will Phoenix be able to score? The team ranked 24th in goals per game. Phoenix's Cinderella tale will continue if the Coyotes can find some offensive answers. 5. Detroit Red Wings (44-24-14, 102 pts.) Since the Olympic break, Detroit has been an NHL-best 16-3-2. Traditionally one of the best NHL teams is entering the playoffs as the hottest team. Rookie goaltender Jimmy Howard has played well this season and gave up only 2.26 goals a game. Coach Mike Babcock has his team winning games on special teams as the Red Wings placed in the top 10 in penalty killing and ranked ninth in power play. 6. Los Angeles Kings (46-27-9, 101 pts.) The Kings make their first playoff appearance since 2002. Despite the reputation of being a young inexperienced team, L.A. has a nucleus of experienced players who have playoff success. Ryan Smyth is a warrior who played in the 2006 Stanley Cup, Justin Williams won the '06 Cup with Carolina, Fredrick Modin helped Tampa Bay capture the '04 Stanley Cup, and Rob Scuderi was a key defender in Pittsburgh's run to the title last season. The Kings are prime for an upset if goaltender Jonathan Quick can step up: the 24-year-old goalie was winless in his last eight appearances. 7. Nashville Predators (47-29-6, 100 pts.) Nashville is far from being a hockey-driven town, but the Predators have its fan base excited. Led by a solid group of blue-liners and goaltender Pekka Rinne, the Predators will face a Chicago team expected to run to the Stanley Cup. Nashville doesn't hold many advantages against the Blackhawks, but has a young and energetic team with no pressure on its collective shoulders. Nashville will need to improve on special teams: the Predators finished the regular season 24th in power play and 28th in penalty kill. 8. Colorado Avalanche (43-30-9, 95 pts.) Like every other Western Conference underdog, Colorado was not expected to qualify for the postseason. Colorado was on a roll earlier in the season, but enters the playoffs with just three wins in its last 13 games. The Aves possess a core of young stars that is experiencing the playoffs for the first time. This is good news for the future, but Colorado goes up against a more-talented San Jose team in the first round. STANLEY CUP PREDICTIONS Paterno: Pittsburgh over San Jose (seven games) Sanchirico: Chicago over Pittsburgh (six games)
After a couple of trips through North Carolina and a stop in Florida to begin the spring season, Buffalo's track and field team made one final road trip to Pennsylvania this past weekend before it makes its home debut at UB Stadium this upcoming Saturday. Friday afternoon, the men and women opened up competition at Bucknell University for the Bison Outdoor Classic, a two-day event. Despite windy conditions, the field team posted strong results on the first day of the meet as sophomore Chris Davis won the men's long jump with a season-best jump of 23-6.75 (7.18m). On the track, junior Gillian Taylor won her heat in the 1500-meter invite, clocking in at 4:41.97. In the same event on the men's side, freshman John Inzina won his heat with a personal best time of 4:04.87. Buffalo also prospered in the longer distance events as freshman Katie Sanders finished 16th out of a field of over 70 runners. Sanders's time of 17:43.15 qualified her for the USATF Junior National Championships. With the sun shining down on Lewisburg on Saturday, the Bulls were rewarded with better results and a record-breaking performance. The men's throw team put together another strong showing in the shot put as sophomore Rob Golabek set two new records. His throw of 59-11.75 (18.28m) set a new Bucknell facility record and broke the Buffalo all-time record. Seniors Jake Madonia (57-7.50 [17.56m]) and Alex Stamatakis (57-6.50 [17.54m]) finished right behind him to complete a Buffalo sweep. The women's team found success on the field as well. Sophomore Shante White won the hammer throw with a season-high distance of 187-8 (57.20m). Sophomore Kristy Woods collected another shot put victory for the Bulls with a throw of 51-9.25 (15.78m), a new facility record. Junior Kim Black won the triple jump with a jump of 40-8.25 (12.40m) in her first and only jump of the day. "[The success] was a combination of a lot of people stepping up today," said men's head coach Perry Jenkins. Junior Shaun Brummert gave Buffalo another victory after finishing with a time of 1:52.54 in the 800-meter race – a full second ahead of runner-up sophomore Isaiah Mask. In the women's 800-meter race, sophomore Jackie Burns finished in third place with a time of 2:13.16, her season's best. Freshman Brooklynn Ventura came in second in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 14.55, and also finished fourth overall among 32 entries in the 400-meter hurdle. Freshman Jamiee McClary recorded a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash. "Brooklynn's 400IH was an excellent start to the season," said women's head coach Vicki Mitchell. "She's excited for even more." The relay teams found moderate success near the end of the meet. The 4x800 meter relay team of senior John Bauman, freshman Michael Pressler, Brummert and Inzina finished in third place with a time of 7:45.69. The women's 4x800 team of freshmen Aimee Hopkins and Leah Wightman, as well as Burns and Taylor, finished in second place with a time of 9:13.21. The performances of the relay teams capped off a successful meet for the Bulls. "We are very pleased with the results," Mitchell said. "This meet was the perfect meet for us to compete at. The competition was solid, the venue was nice and the weather cooperated." As the season continues through April, Jenkins recognizes that success at the MAC Championships continues to be the main goal for the team. "We were not looking to break records," Jenkins said. "We're looking to do well at the MAC championships and try to get as many people to the first round of the NCAA [Championships]." The Bulls will host the UB Invitational Saturday morning at UB Stadium. The first event is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. E-mail: email@example.com
Buffalo's rowing team had an extraordinary afternoon of competition on Saturday as the squad won nine of its 11 races and placed six of its seven boats in Sunday's Grand Finals at the Knecht Cup in Camden, N.J. The Bulls proved they were worthy of receiving 15 votes in the latest national poll as the Varsity Eight boat won its opening heat by more than 10 seconds with a time of 6:46.2. Led by sophomore coxswain Alison Sheehan, the crew improved its time by 10 seconds in the semifinals, beating Boston College by six seconds with a time of 6:36.72. Alongside Sheehan were seniors Sam Masucci, Kate Garofalo, Cathleen Streicher, Tara Rudkowski, Francisca Nwoke, Alana Sharpe, junior Sasha Bailey and sophomore Brittany Ronald. The Varsity Eight boat boasted the second-fastest time of all 18 boats in the semifinals, as Duke edged the Bulls by only six-tenths of a second. The Bulls advanced to Sunday's grand finals for a matchup with Drexel, Duke, Temple, Boston College, and Rutgers. Buffalo's Second Varsity Eight boat of sophomore coxswain Kate Evely, juniors Ashley Hanhurst and Lindsay DiCosimo, sophomores Dakota Smith, Alexandra Condon and Jacklyn Postulka, as well as freshmen Rosa Kemp, Shannon David and Danielle Carlino, were also very impressive after posting the top times in both the opening and semifinal heats (6:52.69 and 6:55.17). They also advanced to Sunday's final to face Drexel, Temple, UMass, Duke and Rutgers. The Novice Eight boat picked up a pair of wins as well after recording the second fastest time of the opening heats, 7:01.21. In the semifinals, the Bulls defeated Colonial Athletic Association-rival Delaware and improved nearly five seconds to a time of 6:56.54. The Novice Eight, consisting of freshman coxswain Kara Buchheit, sophomore Jamie Varble, and freshmen Melissa James, Kylie Lewis, Lauran Benz, Deborah Garth, Bethany Cross, Elizabeth Murphy and Katelynn Hentz advanced to Sunday's final against Delaware, West Virginia, Wisconsin, UMass and UConn. The Bulls' Varsity Four boat also qualified for Sunday's finals. After winning its opening heat, the Varsity Four posted a time of 7:44.51 – less than a second behind first place finisher Villanova – for a second-place finish. The Bulls advanced to Sunday's final for a race against Colgate, Lafayette, Miami, West Virginia and Villanova. The Second Varsity Four boat only raced once on Saturday and clocked in at 7:55.79 for a first place finish to advance to the finals to meet Fairfield, Colgate, UMass, Fordham, and Loyola. The Novice Four boat finished in first place in its opening heat with a time of 8:30.77 and followed up with a third-place semifinal finish to advance to Sunday's petite final. Buffalo's eighth nationally-ranked lightweight boat did not compete on Saturday and automatically advanced to Sunday's Lightweight Eight final to race off against Lafayette, UMass, MIT and two boats from Wisconsin. Check back in Wednesday's issue of The Spectrum for coverage of Sunday's finals action. Additional reporting by Andrew Bellaflores, Staff Writer E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org