AVON, OH - Facing the Mid-American Conference's Pitcher of the Year and a Miami Redhawk team that claimed the MAC East title in the regular season, the Buffalo baseball team knocked out 15 hits in a 6-5 win Wednesday morning. It is the first time in program history that the Bulls (25-24) won its MAC tournament opener. Kevin Hughes pitched effectively into the ninth to earn his fifth win, and all nine batters in the lineup would get at least one hit.
The third-seeded Redhawks (29-26) would start their attack quickly, putting up a pair of runs in the first inning off Hughes to take a 2-0 lead. Already in the hole, the UB offense would have to deal with Miami starting pitcher Seth Varner. The senior lefty earned Pitcher of the Year honors after striking out 111 batters in 97.1 innings and seven wins in the regular season. He would strike out the side in the first, but the Bulls would not give up so easily.
To start the second inning, Mike Burke would lead off with a single and was followed by a one-out single from Kyle Brennan and a walk to Mike Scarcello to load the bases. Jimmy Topps would step in with two outs and dumped a single to left field to score one run, then Nick Sinay beat out an infield single to tie the game up.
The Bulls would load the bases up again in the third, with singles from Burke and Thomas Richards and a walk to Brennan. Scarcello would beat a chopper into the turf at All Pro Freight Stadium and beat a drawn-in third baseman for a two-run single and a 4-2 lead for UB. The Bulls would add their fifth unanswered run in the fifth as Brennan would turn on a 2-2 pitch and drive it over the left field fence for his second home run of the season.
Miami would break a cold streak with two runs in the fifth off Hughes, but the sixth-year senior would be stout in his start. Outside of Miami's scoring innings in the first and fifth, he allowed just two hits. Along with that, he walked just a single batter and struck out six, ultimately throwing 126 pitches to help preserve a thin UB bullpen.
Entering the ninth with the 5-4 lead, the Bulls offense added an important insurance run. Tyler Mautner, who was hitless in his previous four at bats, punched his 17th double of the season with one out. It appeared as though the Bulls would strand another runnner after the second out, but Richards singled into the right center field gap for the 6-4 lead.
A leadoff single and one-out double put the game's tying run on base for Miami in the bottom of the ninth, and Mike Kaelin would be summoned from the 'pen. He allowed a sacrifice fly for a 6-5 game, but forced a lazy fly ball to center field for the final out of the game.
The bottom of the UB lineup would be the key for UB, as the 5-through-9 batters would combine for 10 of the team's 15 hits. Burke would finish 3-5, while Richards, Brennan and Dudek each had two-hit days.
Next up will be a matchup with either second seed Central Michigan or seventh seed Akron. The Bulls were 1-2 against the Chippewas and swept the Zips in the regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 pm tomorrow afternoon.