Disciplined Bulls Sweep Rival Niagara
BUFFALO, NY - It took a total team effort Wednesday afternoon, but the Buffalo Bulls (10-30) used strong pitching and a dynamic offense to sweep Big Four rival Niagara (6-34), 2-1 in the first game and 11-4 in game two.
In the first game, it was the focus of starting pitcher Kevin Hughes that helped the Bulls to a win. The junior pitched a complete-game five-hitter, striking out six while not giving up a single walk. Adding to that, the junior didn't even allow a batter to reach in four of the seven innings.
"Kevin kept them off balance and that's the biggest thing," said head coach Ron Torgalski. "He made his pitches and got us the win. You're going to give up hits, but when you don't give them any free passes you're in good shape."
The Bulls were trailing 1-0 in the third when Tom Murphy hit a one-out single and then advanced to second on a wild pitch. Eric Bryce was able to convert, driving him in with a single straight up the middle. The eventual game-winning run came in the very next inning, thanks to some clutch at bats with two outs. After the first two UB batters were retired, Michael Scarcello drew a walk and Matt Pollock followed with a single that moved Scarcello to third. Michael Burke hit a sharp grounder up the middle that hit second base and tied up the defender, allowing Scarcello to score.
After proving to be the hero in game one, Burke took to the mound to start game two and quickly found himself in trouble, with runners on second and third with no outs in the very first inning. A shallow fly ball to right field was not able to score the run, and Burke took it upon himself to shut down Niagara, striking out the next two batters looking.
The offense broke the scoreless seal in the third inning, when Jason Kanzler hit a triple to center field that scored Pollock, who had earlier drawn a walk. Murphy then hit a double to score Kanzler after working the count full from an early 0-2 hole.
In the next inning, the Bulls' younger starters came through with tough at bats to put another run on the board. After the first two batters were set down on the first pitch, freshman infielder Scarcello was able to ground out a walk after running the count full and fouling off numerous pitches. That opened the door for Russ Carone, who smoked a line drive up the middle. With this shot in the arm, Pollock hit a double to left center field that completed an impressive two-out rally and push the score to 3-0.
"It was great that they (Scarcello and Carone) both stepped up and made some tough plays," Torgalski said. "I told them both before the game that we needed them to contribute and they did just that."
In the fifth inning, the team used terrific plate discipline to earn favorable counts and opened the floodgates. Murphy led off with a double and was immediately scored on a single by Alex Baldock. After a groundout, Jordan Camp drove in Baldock with a single up the middle. After a Purple Eagle pitching change, Andrew Smietana hit the first pitch he saw over the left fielder's head for a double that scored Camp, giving UB a 6-0 lead.
Niagara chased Burke from the game with four runs in the top of the sixth, but not before the freshman standout threw five quality innings, striking out five and walking only one batter. The offense soon after was able to pick up their starter, helping him to his first career win.
In the bottom of the sixth, control issues by Niagara's pitching staff led to a high-scoring inning. The bases were loaded with no outs after Kanzler reached on a single and Murphy and Baldock took advantage of erratic pitching for a walk and hit by pitch. With another reliever inserted, the Buffalo base runners rode the carousel as three wild pitches scored three runs and left UB with another bases loaded situation and only one out after Scarcello drew his third walk of the game and Carone also walked, joining Camp on the basepaths. Camp would score on a fielder's choice and the Bulls would end the wild inning with an 11-4 lead after five runs came across on just two hits.
The final line for game two was eleven hits for UB, with the only batter not recording a hit being Scarcello, who instead drew three walks and went 0-1. As a team, the Bulls drew eight walks in game two alone. Now having won three of the past five games, the Bulls will now prepare for Mid American Conference foe Ohio this weekend. The three-game series will start Friday with a scheduled 3 pm first pitch.