BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo baseball team (11-24, 3-8 MAC) dropped their fifth straight Mid-American Conference game on Saturday afternoon at Amherst Audobon Field to the Ball State Cardinals, 6-4. The UB offense collected 13 hits in the loss.
After a quick top half of the first inning by the Cardinals, the Bulls were able to load the bases in the bottom half of the inning. Alex Thrower and Phillip Tomasulo each collected infield singles before Ben Haefner laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the two runners into scoring position. After Vinny Mallaro was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Chris Kwitzer extended his hitting streak to nine games with a sharp single to right field to score Thrower from third. UB wasn't able to cross anymore runners across home as they took the 1-0 lead after one inning.
The Cardinals responded with a run of their own in the top of the second inning to tie the game, 1-1. Seth Freed opened the inning with a single before moving over to third on a failed pickoff attempt by Brent Cleland. After a walk, Cleland was able to force a double play but the runner from third scampered home to knot the game up.
Buffalo was able to put a pair of runners on in the third inning as Haefner and Brennan each notched singles but the Bulls weren't able to score the go-ahead run. Cleland was then able to cruise through the fourth and fifth innings to send the game to the sixth tied, 1-1.
The UB starter ran into problems in the top of the sixth inning as the Cardinals struck for three runs to take the 4-1 lead. After recording the first two outs, the Cardinals connected on four straight hits as they plated three runs before Griffin Hulecki was forced to pop out, ending Cleland's afternoon.
After a quick sixth inning by the Bulls, the Cardinals added to their lead with two more runs in the seventh inning off of Thomas Taplin. Ball State opened the inning with a triple and a double before Alex Maloney flied out to deep right field to plate another run and give the Cardinals the 6-1 lead.
UB tried to get back into the game in the bottom half of the eighth inning and they were able to as they notched three runs to make the score 6-4 in favor of the Cardinals. Kwitzer opened the inning with a single and Brennan walked to force a pitching change. After a Brian Dudek bunt single loaded the bases, Connor Regan record a sacrifice fly to score Kwitzer from third. An Alex Thrower single loaded the bases back up for Tomasulo who delivered a double down the right field line that plated Brennan and Dudek to make it 6-4. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Haefner wasn't able to tie the game up as he flew out to left field.
Freshman Greg Dunham entered the game in the ninth and forced three quick outs to give the UB offense one more chance to tie the game. Kwitzer notched his third hit of the day but UB couldn't bring him around to score as they dropped game two, 6-4.
Kwitzer was the Bulls best hitter on Saturday as he went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored while extending his season-long hitting streak to nine straight games. Thrower was good at the plate as he went 3-for-4 with a run and a walk while Haefner finished off his day going 2-for-3 with two walks. Brennan went 1-for-4 with a run and a walk as he has now reached base safely in 10 straight games while Dudek went 1-for-5 with a run scored in the loss.
Cleland finished off his afternoon going 6.0 innings while allowing six hits, three earned runs and striking out one batter. Taplin went 2.0 innings and allowed two runs with two strikeouts while Dunham went 1.0 inning of hitless baseball.
The Bulls and Cardinals will return to Amherst Audobon Field on Sunday afternoon for the three-game series finale. First pitch is set for 1:00 pm and Shawn Dubin will pitch for the Bulls.