TOLEDO, OH – The University at Buffalo baseball team (10-20, 3-4 MAC) saw their late rally come up just short on Friday afternoon in the opening game of a three-game series against MAC foe Toledo. The Bulls loaded the bases with one out in the ninth but were only able to score one run as they fell 4-3 to the Rockets.
Trailing the Rockets 4-2 entering the top of the ninth, the Bulls showed some fight and resilience as they were able to load the bases with one out. Alex Thrower dug in and delivered an RBI as he grounded into a fielder's choice which scored Jeff Palczewski from third, making it 4-3 in favor of Toledo. With a chance to tie the game or take the lead, Toledo pitcher Michael Jacob made a good pitch which forced Brian Dudek to foul out to the catcher to end the threat and the game.
After a quick 1-2-3 inning by the Bulls in the first, the Rockets were able to get on the board first they collected a walk and a single before Dalton Bollinger delivered an RBI double to right center field to give the home team the 1-0 lead.
Buffalo was able to tie the game up in the top of the third inning as Brian Wasilewski connected on his second homer of the season, a solo shot, to left field. The Rockets responded quickly with a run in the bottom half of the inning as Bollinger launched a solo homer of his own to right field, giving Toledo the 2-1 lead through three innings.
Both starting pitchers tightened up over the next three innings as neither offense could break through with a run. Sobieraski closed out his afternoon with a pair of strikeouts in the bottom of the sixth inning before Logan Harasta came into the game for the seventh.
The Rockets increased their lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh off of Harasta as they strung together three singles to score Michael Ryan from second base.
UB got back within one run in the top of the eighth inning as Thrower earned a walk and Ben Haefner singled through the left side to force a Rockets pitching change. With two runners on and a new pitcher in the game, Vinny Mallaro delivered an RBI single to right field to plate thrower before being thrown out at second base after trying to leg the single into a double. The RBI for Mallaro was his team-leading 22nd of the season, fifth game in the last six that the senior has notched at least one RBI.
Toledo went back up by two runs in the bottom of the eighth as AJ Montoya launched a solo homer down the left field line.
The Bulls were able to put together a late rally in the top of the ninth inning as Kyle Brennan, Wasilewski and Phillip Tomasulo all earned walks to load the bases with one out. Thrower then stepped in and grounded out to second base to score Palczewski from third base and make the score 4-3 in favor of the Rockets. UB wasn't able to bring around the tying run as Dudek fouled out to the catcher to end the game.
Wasilewski had a strong game at the plate for the Bulls as he went 1-for-3 with a solo homer and a walk while Thrower went 1-for-4 with an RBI, run and his team-leading 30th walk of the season. Mallaro went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk while Haefner, Dudek and Kwitzer each notched a hit in the loss.
Sobieraski had his third straight strong start on the mound for the Bulls as he went 6.0 innings of five-hit two-run ball while striking out five batters in the losing effort. Harasta pitched 2.0 innings and allowed two runs while striking out four batters.
Toledo starting pitcher Steven Calhoun went 7.1 innings while allowing six hits, two runs and striking out seven batters in his third win of the season.
The two teams will square off again tomorrow at Scott Park as Shawn Dubin will take the mound for the Bulls. First pitch is set for 1:00 pm and the game can be watched live on ESPN3.