MOREHEAD, KY – Needing to find a way to win after three straight heartbreaking losses, the Buffalo baseball team used the big lumber in game one and relied on standout pitching in game two to sweep the Sunday doubleheader, beating Morehead State 18-11 and 6-3. Jason Kanzler had three hits and four RBI in game one, and Mike Burke pitched all seven innings to earn the win in game two.
The first game was pushed back a half hour due to recurring snow flurries that also delayed the game once it was underway. The Bulls drew five walks in the first inning and three more in the second inning, helping to generate four runs on only one hit through the first two frames. In the third inning, River McWilliams led off with a single and advanced to second on an error. He was driven in by Tyler Mautner. Andy Smietana was hit by a pitch and Mike Scarcello earned an infield single to load the bases. A four-pitch walk to Matt Pollock scored Smietana and Tom Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to score Scarcello. Dan Scahill placed a single through the left side to cap the team's scoring and give the team an 8-1 lead.
After Morehead State responded with two runs in the bottom of the third, the Bulls added another three runs on an RBI double from Scarcello and a two-run home run by Jason Kanzler. The team blew the game open again in the sixth inning, scoring six runs to give UB a 17-6 lead. Kanzler drove in Smietana with a single, moving up to second on the throw home, and an error by the Eagles scored him one batter later. Scahill again recorded an RBI, driving in Matt Pollock, and River McWilliams continued his solid series with a three-run home run down the left field line with two outs.
That would be more than enough cushion for the Bulls pitching staff, who had struggled mightily to maintain a lead this season. The Eagles scraped together five runs between the seventh and eighth, but a run-scoring double by Mike Burke provided the exclamation point on an 18-11 win. Jeff Thompson earned the winning after tossing five innings and striking out three. Cory Folk threw a scoreless inning of relief.
Game two would progress considerably faster than game one, which lasted nearly four hours. Mike Burke slid over to the mound after starting game one as the shortstop. His arm was hardly tired, though, as he tossed a gem with only one hiccup in the fifth inning. The sophomore went all seven innings, striking out eight and walking only two. After the Eagles batted almost .400 with 12 extra-base hits through the first three games, Burke stifled them and allowed just one extra base hit among the eight he scattered.
He was again the benficiary of an early lead, as the offense staked him to a 5-0 lead. Scarcello hit an RBI double in the second inning and McWilliams added a sac fly in the next inning. The final nails in the coffin would come in the fifth, when Buffalo loaded the bases with two outs. Smietana split the defenders with a double to left center field that scored three runs. A bases-loaded walk off a full count drawn by pinch hitter Mautner ended the team's scoring in the sixth.
Hoping to close out the abbreviated complete-game win, Burke hit the leadoff batter in the home half of the seventh but induced grounder that went around the horn for a 5-4-3 double play. He then struck out the eighth Eagle of the day to put an exclamation point on the team's best pitching performance of the season.
Now 2-5 this season, the Bulls will rest up this week before heading out again next weekend. It will play Coppin State next Saturday and Long Island University the following day.