Bulls Prepare to Open Conference Action at Central Michigan
BUFFALO, NY - After ending the major portion of its non-conference season with a 6-9 record, the Bulls baseball team will travel to Mount Pleasant, MI for the beginning of its Mid-American Conference season with three games against defending Western Division champs Central Michigan (9-12).
The team is aiming to snap a three-game losing streak that included two walk-off losses in its past weekend of action in Philadelphia. Buffalo lost 7-6 to La Salle, 5-2 to St. Joe's, and 5-4 to Villanova. Despite the frustrating losses, the team had numerous bright spots, none more important than the team's weekend starting pitching. Cameron Copping, Kevin Hughes and Jeff Thompson combined to allow just seven earned runs in 17.1 innings of work, striking out a combined 18 batters while allowing just two walks. Copping currently leads the conference with a 12.43 K/9, and his 29 overall strikeouts are third most among MAC pitchers.
At the plate for the week, the team was as strong as ever, batting .333 with five home runs and 14 doubles during the team's five-game week. Matt Pollock led the way, batting .550 (11-20) with eight runs scored and eight runs batted in. The junior hit three doubles, a triple and a home run to lead the team to a pair of wins. He recorded three multi-hit games, highlighted by a season-high four hits (including two doubles) in a perfect 4-4 performance against St. Joseph's on Saturday. On Tuesday, Pollock hit the go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of an 8-6 win over Towson, and the next day he came just a home run shy of the cycle in a 16-8 win over UMBC.
This season, the Bulls are batting a conference-high .336 as a team and have 10 players who have started in at least a third of the team's games that are batting over .300. In the conference, UB's Tom Murphy leads the league with six home runs and 24 RBI despite the team playing the second-fewest games of any team.
The Chippewas are coming off a 4-3 win over Northwood on Tuesday that snapped a brief two-game losing streak. CMU ranks eighth in the conference in team batting average but has the fourth-lowest team earned run average. Jordan Dean and William Arnold are the key cogs to the offense, with Dean leading the team in hits (34) and RBI (17), and Arnold providing four home runs and a .425 on-base percentage. In February, Arnold was been named the Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week after hitting four home runs, eight RBI and eight runs scored against Troy. The team is sorely missing the production of standout Tyler Hall, who had missed the team's first 20 games before returning for the game against Northwood.
This will be the first meeting between the cross-division rivals since the 2009 season, when the Chips won two of three games. In the all-time series, CMU leads 15-4. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 3 pm.
Friday: Cameron Copping (RHP) vs. Zach Cooper (RHP)
Saturday: Kevin Hughes (RHP) vs. Rick Dodridge (LHP)
Sunday: Jeff Thompson (RHP) vs. Ryan Longstreth (LHP) or Matt Trowbridge (LHP)