April 11, 2014

Figgins' "Walk Off" Caps Comeback Win

ROCHESTER, NY - The Buffalo baseball team has done all it could to make a home away from home of Tribune Field at Monroe Community College down the road in Rochester. For the second time in the last three "home" games, the Bulls (14-12, 5-4 MAC) were able to erase a late lead and earned a walk-off win. It would be a literal walk-off this time, as Kyle Figgins drew a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth to give the team an 8-7 win over Western Michigan (13-16, 4-6 MAC) Friday afternoon.

Despite being out-hit 14-8 and committing four errors that would lead to three unearned runs, the offense was able to score three unanswered runs in the final two innings of the game. In the bottom of the ninth, Nick Sinay used an impressive hustle play to get the rally started. The sophomore hit a sky-high fly ball to shallow left center field, but rather than give up on the play he ran around to second. That would be key, as the ball would be lost in the setting sun and glanced off the left fielder's glove to start the inning.

Matt Pollock would tie the game at 7-7 after doubling a 3-2 pitch over the head of a leaping third baseman that brough Sinay around and put him in position to score the game winner with still no outs. After a strikeout, Mike Burke would be walked intentionally. Vinny Mallaro hit a sharp grounder to short, but his throw to second would be botched to allow all runners to reach safely. Another strikeout would put the inning in jeopardy, and Figgins would step to the plate and found himself in a quick 0-2 hole. He would draw four straight balls to allow Pollock to trot home to the delight of the UB dugout.

Western Michigan snapped a 5-5 tie in the eighth win two runs, but the Bulls answered with an imporant run in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly from Mike Scarcello. It was a common theme of the game, as the two teams would answer every scoring inning from the opposition with a run of its own.

The Bulls started the game with a three-run first inning. The first three batters would reach safely, and Tyler Mautner would come through with a two-run single. Vinny Mallaro capped the inning with a sacrifice fly. The Broncos would answer in the third with three runs after the Bulls committed three errors, and also scored a pair of runs in the fourth to answer another multi-run inning for the Bulls.

Senior righthander Kevin Hughes was able to respond after an adverse opening third of the game and gave the team crucial innings late to save the bullpen. He threw 119 pitches over 7.1 innings and struck out four, allowing four earned runs. Offensively, Pollock would lead the way with three hits and the important RBI, while Mautner would have a pair of hits and the two runs batted in in the first.

The two teams will be back at it tomorrow afternoon, with a first pitch scheduled for 1 pm. Anthony Magovney will get the ball hoping to clinch the weekend series for the team.