BUFFALO, NY - After falling behind in the middle innings of its Sunday series finale versus Akron (21-21, 9-9 MAC), the UB baseball team punched back with six unanswered runs in the final two innings to win 11-6. Career days for freshmen Mike Kaelin and Vinny Mallaro gave the team the boost it needed, as Kaelin would throw 4.1 scoreless innings and Mallaro would go 4-4 with three RBI.
The Bulls (20-16, 11-6 MAC) would come out of the gates on a tear, scoring five runs in the first three innings of the game. In the first, singles from Nick Sinay and Matt Pollock, and a walk to Tyler Mautner all with one out set the team up. Thomas Richards drove in the game's first run on a sacrifice fly and Mallaro followed with a single through the right side to make it a 2-0 game. Akron would hurt themselves with a two-out error that would score another UB run.
In the third, Mautner led off with a double and would then score on a one-out single from Mallaro. After a single by Brian Dudek put runners on the corners, Mike Scarcello hit a double down the left field line to make it a 5-0 lead. Akron came out motivated to salvage at least one win in the weekend series, though, and stormed ahead after dominating the middle innings.
After scoring three times in the top of the fourth, the Zips would chase UB starter Mike Burke from the game with another big inning in the fifth. Akron loaded the bases with the first three batters in the inning, then scored its first run on a controversial walk on a 3-2 pitch to Daulton Mosbarger. Burke would get two pop ups that would freeze the runners, but he was stung with a two-out, two-run single to give Akron its first lead of the weekend, 6-5.
Kaelin would enter in the fifth and get the final out with runners on the corners, then settled in for one of his best days pitching as a Bull. The Cheektowaga native would throw the final four innings after escaping the fifth, striking out four and allowing four hits and a pair of walks. The Zips would threaten with a pair of two-out singles in the seventh, but could not score off the UB righty.
"He just got cleared a couple days ago after being injured, he came in, threw strikes and kept them off balance," head coach Ron Torgalski said. "He did a tremendous job."
After being held scoreless in the middle innings, the Bulls were able to get the lead back in the seventh. Mallaro led off with a single, and the Akron pitcher would mishandle a sacrifice bunt attempt from Kyle Figgins. Dudek would move both runners over with a successful sacrifice, and Scarcello drove in Mallaro with a deep fly ball to center field that tied the score at 6-6. Jimmy Topps would get the eventual game-winning hit, slapping a two-out single to left center to put the Bulls ahead for good.
Kaelin would work around a leadoff walk in the eighth, and the offense would head back out looking for insurance runs. It would get them quickly, with the first three batters of the inning reaching on a single, walk and error, respectively. Mallaro came up big yet again, dropping a single to right that scored a run. Kyle Brennan, who replaced Figgins at catcher in the top of the eighth, would hit a single back up the middle immediately after that scored two more. The final run came in on a two-out wild pitch for the final 11-6 margin.
"We did everything well this weekend. We pitched the ball well for the most part and defensively we made plays. The one thing I think we did a great job of offensively was getting good at-bats, moving runners and stealing bases," Torgalski said.
Mallaro finished with three runs scored along with the four hits and three RBI. He is just the second UB hitter to have a four-hit game this season.
I've been saying all along that we need to get him (Mallaro) at-bats because we know he can hit the ball," Torgalski said of the Syracuse native. "The more at-bats he gets he's only going to get better. He has great bat speed and he's a guy that comes through in special situation."
As the final month of the regular season approaches, the team will go on the road for its next five games. Up first will be a doubleheader at Niagara on Tuesday, starting at 2 pm. Then next weekend, it travels to MAC East rival Miami for three.