BUFFALO, NY - Under the bright lights of All Pro Freight Stadium Thursday night, a new chapter in Buffalo baseball will be written as the Bulls will play in its first-ever Mid-American Conference tournament game. After closing out the 2012 regular season with a win over Bowling Green to earn the eighth seed in the tournament, the team will face the number one overall seed Kent State. First pitch Wednesday will be at 7:30 pm.
"The guys will be loose. Every team in the tournament is a team that we've competed with during the year, and three or four of the teams we took two out of three games from, said head coach Ron Torgalski. "We've been right there with every one of them, so it's not like we're going to go in saying that it's a long shot and we're intimidated by anybody."
Getting the start for UB will be senior Cameron Copping, who has thrived under pressure thus far and has given up just six earned runs over his last 31.1 innings. In his start against Kent State on April 6, he was on point, allowing just two runs over his seven innings while striking out five batters. The Golden Flashes came back to win the game in the ninth inning of that game and also scored six unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth inning to win 6-3 the next day.
The Bulls will be out for revenge after the disappointing results in Kent almost two months ago, and are coming into the tournament on a bit of a roll offensively. The team is averaging 12.6 hits over its past three games and finished the regular season with a team batting average of .304, second best in the MAC.
It will be a test of which pitching staff can step up on Wednesday, as the two premier offenses will square off. Kent State (37-17, 24-3 MAC) have batted .309 with a .455 slugging percentage to this point in the season, and also have a deadly starting rotation to back it up. Probable Wednesday starter David Starn (8-3, 1.99 ERA) has been very efficient through his 14 starts, allowing only a .217 batting average while striking out 105 batters in 90.2 innings.
Despite offering an imposing lineup on paper, Torgalski is confident the team will make the most of its first postseason opportunity.
"We're not afraid to face any body, you have to face the best eventually to win the tournament, Torgalski said. "People may not expect much out of us but I think there are coaches in there that don't want to face us."
Live audio of the game Wednesday will be available through BuffaloBulls.com. You can find the link here or through the team's schedule page.
Tickets for the tournament can be found here.