AVON, OH - In a four-hour extra-inning affair that won't soon be forgotten, the UB baseball team saw its 2014 season end Saturday, losing 5-4 in 12 innings to Akron (28-28). The Bulls finish the season with a 26-26 record, with the win total the second highest of the modern era and the fourth highest all time.
The game, which started at 9:30 am, would not be decided until after well after 1:30 in the afternoon, as the Bulls erased an early deficit to take the lead until the Zips tied the game in the eighth before winning four innings later on a bases-loaded walk. Senior Kevin Hughes would take the loss after stepping up with 3.1 innings of relief just three days after pitching into the ninth inning of a win over Miami.
Buffalo errors would stake the Zips an early lead, going through the first three innings with a 3-0 advantage before the rally caps would come on.
The lead was almost put completely out of reach early, as Akron loaded the bases in the first three innings off UB starter Mike McGee. He would allow two runs in the first, but induced double plays in the first and second before he would be pulled with the bases loaded and two outs. Senior Cory Folk came on and gave up a deep fly ball from James Sheltrown to left. Matt Pollock would slam in to the wall but came up with the ball to take what could have been at the very least a multi-RBI double. After putting out major fires in the first three innings, the Bulls offense would finally get to starter J.T. Brubaker in the fourth.
Mike Burke would single to lead off, and Thomas Richards moved him to third on a single of his own. With one out, Mike Scarcello took his first pitch and punched a single past the third baseman for a 1-0 lead. Jimmy Topps then doubled into the left center field alley to pull UB within one, 3-2. Folk would settle down after his very loud out in the third, and would go five innings.
The offense would get him the lead after plating single runs in the sixth and seventh. The Bulls would get a break to score a two-out run in the sixth inning, as Brian Dudek drew a walk with the bases empty to bring up Topps. The senior would single to right field, but the ball was misplayed and rolled all the way to the wall to give Dudek a chance to come home from first on the error to tie the game.
In the seventh, Matt Pollock led off by getting hit by a pitch, then moved to second on a failed pickoff. Freshman Vinny Mallaro would come in with two outs and a big spot, and singled to center field to bring in the go-ahead run and a 4-3 lead.
Folk would last until the eighth, where he ran into trouble quickly. He allowed a lead off double that would come home on a two-out single to tie the game back up. The Bulls would have a runner thrown out at home in the ninth and get runners to third in the tenth and eleventh, but could not convert. All told, the Bulls would strand 15 runners in the game.
"Give both teams credit, it was a great game that went back and forth and both teams made plays when they needed to late," head coach Ron Torgalski said. "We gave them a couple early and they outlasted us."
This marks the final game for an 11-member senior class, seven of which played major roles in Saturday's game. Topps finished with four hits, Mike Burke went 2-4 just a day after throwing a complete game. Richards and Scarcello would also tally a pair of hits in the game while Folk and Hughes pitched with tired arms to try and extend their UB careers for one more game.
"This senior class has carried us all year, they've done a lot of great things for us over the years and we're going to miss them. They helped make us a legitimate program and get us going in the right direction. There are a lot of guys out there with their names all over the record books and we're going to miss them."