AVON, OH - Senior pitcher Mike Burke continued to dominate on the mound in his Mid-American Conference tournament career, throwing a complete-game shutout Friday in a 4-0 win over the Miami Redhawks (30-27). Burke would scatter seven hits and alleviate a UB offense that started slow before rallying behind their pitcher to send the regular season MAC East champions home.
With the win, Buffalo (26-25) earns a trip to the semifinal round of the tournament for the second time in three tries. The Bulls will have a rematch with Akron tomorrow starting at 9:30 am, needing to win twice to eliminate the Zips.
The Bulls were able to stake Burke to a 1-0 lead after the first inning, as Tyler Mautner would bring home Jimmy Topps with a sacrifice fly after Topps drew a lead-off walk to begin the game. That would be it for the offense, though, as Miami starter Nate Williams kepts the Bulls hitless through the first five innings of the game. The only baserunners would come on a hit batter and a pair of walks until Matt Pollock hit a one-out single in the sixth.
Still carrying the 1-0 lead into the eighth, Topps would kick-start the offense with a leadoff double down the right field line. Needing to ensure at least one runs, the Bulls would bunt him over to third for Pollock. The senior would double down the left field line to score Topps easily for a 2-0 lead. Pollock would come home on an error by the Miami third baseman, who misplayed a ground ball that may have ended the inning with a double play around the horn.
Burke seemingly was uneffected by the offense's slow start. He would only get stronger as the game went on, allowing just one baserunner to reach base for the game (in the sixth) and retiring eight straight batters from the seventh inning until there were two outs in the ninth.
Pitching in front of family and friends just a few miles away from his home town of Cleveland, Burke finishes his MAC tournament career with two earned runs allowed over 26 innings pitched and a 3-0 record. He pitched a shutout against Northern Illinois last season, and went eight innings allowing two runs against Western Michigan in 2012. All three wins came in elimination games.
The coaching staff has yet to announce a starter for Saturday morning's game against Akron, but it will be all hands on deck as the Bulls must sweep the Zips to have a shot at the title. Live audio will again be available through UBBulls.com.