BUFFALO, NY - The combination of timely hitting from Tyler Mautner and another complete-game effort from reigning MAC East Pitcher of the Week Kevin Hughes, the Bulls held off Akron (21-19, 9-7 MAC) in the opening game of a three-game Mid-American Conference weekend series Friday afternoon. The win snapped a four-game losing streak for UB (18-16, 9-6 MAC).
Hughes and Akron's John Valek locked horns in a pitching dual early, with the first three innings of the game coming in just over 30 minutes. In the third, Jimmy Topps singled off the third base bag to start the inning, then moved to second on a wild pitch. With one out, Mautner woul bring him home with a single through the left side of the infield for a 1-0 lead. Akron would answer with an unearned run in the top of the fourth to make it 1-1.
After Hughes worked his way out of a jam in the top of the fifth, an Akron error would provide UB with the go-ahead run. Matt Pollock hit a two-out grounder to short that got kicked around for an error, then he stole second base. That would be key, as Mautner hit another single through the hole at shortstop to put the Bulls back up.
Similar to his performance against Kent State just a week earlier, Hughes was able to manage his baserunners and was backed up by a stout UB defense. Both the infield and the outfield made athletic plays to limit base hits, with Pollock making a pair of diving catches early to rob sharp-hit line drives.
Still up 2-1 heading to the bottom of the eighth, the Bulls would tack on what would become an important insurance run off the Akron bullpen. Brian Dudek hit a single back up the middle and then took second on a wild pitch. After walks to Mike Scarcello and Topps loaded the bases, Nick Sinay took a 2-2 offering off his left shoulder to get an RBI the hard way.
Hughes would take the mound in the ninth with a 3-1 lead and ran into quick trouble after a hit and walk started the inning. After a sacrifice moved both into scoring position with just one out, the Bulls would trade a run for the second out on a ground ball to first base. The Zips would send up a pinch hitter, and Hughes would throw two quick strikes before freezing him with a backdoor slider for a called third strike to end the game.
The senior would finish with five strikeouts, six hits allowed and one earned run given up while throwing just 109 pitches. Offensively, Pollock, Dudek and Mike Burke would join Mautner with multi-hit games. Buffalo would have 12 hits in the game, but also stranded 12 baserunners.
The Bulls didn't just beat the Zips Friday, but also beat out the rain. That weather has threatened the status of Saturday's game with constant rain expected throughout the evening and into the morning. First pitch is scheduled for 1 pm.