BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo baseball team (7-14, 0-0 MAC) will open up their Mid-American Conference slate on Friday evening on the road at preseason favorite Kent State. The Bulls and Flashes will open up their three game series starting at 12:00 pm at Schoonover Stadium. Kent State enters the weekend series with a 15-7 overall record and a 3-0 MAC mark.
The Bulls enter their opening MAC weekend on a two-game winning streak as they defeated St. Bonaventure 5-4 last time out. This past weekend on the road at Sam Houston State, the Bulls were able to claim two of three games from the Bearkats as they picked up the 10-4 series clinching win on Sunday behind a five-run first inning.
Buffalo is being led offensively this season by senior Brian Dudek who is having a career year at the plate as he currently owns a .355 batting average to go along with a team-high two home runs, 16 RBI and 12 runs while owning a .597 slugging percentage and a .488 on base percentage on the year. Junior shortstop Ben Haefner is also in the midst of a career year at the plate as he is batting .295 to go along with a team-best 19 RBI and 12 runs while starting all 21 games for the Bulls. Senior catcher Kyle Brennan has been impressive at the plate as well as behind the plate for UB all season long. The powerful right-handed batter has accumulated a .355 batting average to go along with 13 runs scored and nine RBI while throwing out 12 of 15 would-be base stealers on the season.
The Buffalo pitching staff hasn't quiet lived up to preseason expectations just yet but they have been improving as of late. The Bulls starting pitchers are led by junior Shawn Dubin who is having a career year on the mound as he owns a 2-1 record to go along with a team-best 2.53 ERA while striking out 27 batters in 32.0 innings of work. Dubin is allowing his opponents to bat just .233 against him while allowing two earned runs or less in five of his six starts this season. Senior Friday starter Alec Tuohy hasn't produced the numbers he would have liked so far this season as his ERA is sitting at 9.60 on the year but he has been able to collect a team-high four wins on the season as the Bulls offense has produced an average of 8.5 runs/game in his starts. Tuohy is coming off of his best start of the season last time out against Sam Houston State as he went 8.0 innings while allowing seven hits, three runs and striking out a career-high nine batters in the 5-3 win for the Bulls.
The Golden Flashes enter Friday's MAC series against the Bulls with a 15-7 overall record to go along with a 3-0 MAC mark. Kent State opened up MAC play last weekend with a three-game sweep of the MAC west favorite Ball State Cardinals on the road in Muncie, IN. The Flashes averaged 7.0 runs/game in the series sweep of the Cardinals. Last time out, Kent State dropped a nailbitter to the Purdue Boilmakers, 3-2.
Kent State has a potent offense that has posted a .310 team batting average through 22 games while averaging 6.2 runs/game. Luke Burch is leading the way as he has accumulated a .392 batting average to go along with seven doubles, three home runs, 12 RBI, a team-best 21 runs and eight stolen bases while owning an on base percentage of .439. Tim DalPorto has been strong at the plate as he owns a .371 batting average with a team-best 17 RBI and 13 runs scored while Mason Mamarella is batting .323 with 17 runs scored, 13 RBI and eight stolen bases in 22 starts.
The Flashes have been just as dominant on the mound this season as they own a 3.71 team ERA while striking out 189 batters in 194 innings of work. Kent State's Sunday starter Joey Murray has been strong on the mound as he owns a 3-0 record to go along with a 2.03 ERA while striking out a team-high 44 batters in 31 innings of work. Eli Kraus leads the Flashes with four wins as he owns a 4.46 ERA through 36.1 innings of work while striking out 28 batters. Zach Spangler has struggled some in the closer role for the Flashes as he owns a 7.45 ERA but does lead the MAC with five saves on the year, including three in his last four appearances.
The Bulls and Flashes will return to the diamond on Saturday at 4:00 pm as Buffalo will send right-handed junior Charlie Sobieraski to the mound while Kent State will send right-handed Zach Willeman to the mound. Sunday's game will be a 1:00 pm start with Shawn Dubin getting the ball for UB and he will be opposed by Joey Murray.
PROBABLE STARTING PITCHERS
Friday, March 31 at 12:00 pm
Buffalo: #4 RHP Alec Tuohy (4-2, 9.60 ERA, 26 K)
Kent State: #31 LHP Eli Kraus (4-2, 4.46 ERA, 28 K)
Saturday, April 1 at 4:00 pm
Buffalo: #26 RHP Charlie Sobieraski (0-5, 6.98 ERA, 15 K)
Kent State: #23 RHP Zach Willeman (4-2, 6.23 ERA, 25 K)
Sunday, April 2 at 1:00 pm
Buffalo: #16 RHP Shawn Dubin (2-1, 2.53 ERA, 27 K)
Kent State: #30 RHP Joey Murray (3-0, 2.03 ERA, 44 K)