OXFORD, OH – Powered by a four-run first inning, the University at Buffalo baseball team (15-26, 7-9 MAC) collected a MAC series opening victory on the road at Miami (OH) on Saturday afternoon, 6-5. Buffalo has now won three of their last four MAC games as they improved to 7-9 in MAC play as they are looking to earn a spot in the MAC Tournament for the first time since 2014.
The Buffalo offense got out to a quick start on Saturday as they were able to put four runs on the board in the first inning. Phillip Tomasulo started the rally with a single up the middle before Ben Haefner and Vinny Mallaro were hit by pitches to load the bases full of Bulls. Senior Chris Kwitzer then stepped in and stayed hot at the plate as he delivered a bases clearing triple to right center field to give UB the 3-0 lead. Catcher Kyle Brennan then collected an infield single to score Kwitzer and gave the Bulls the 4-0 lead.
The RedHawks responded in the bottom half of the first inning with a lead off solo home run by Tyler Harris to left center. Miami was then able to make the score 4-2 in favor of the Bulls in the bottom of the second inning as Will Voglegesang laid down a suicide squeeze that plated Cal Elvers from third base.
After a scoreless third inning in which Charlie Sobieraski forced a double play and struck out the final batter of the inning, the RedHawks plated a run in the fourth inning to make the score 4-3 in favor of the Bulls. Miami scored their second straight run on a suicide squeeze as the runner from third scored on the bunt by Hayden Senger.
The Bulls were able to increase their lead back to two, 5-3, in the top of the fifth inning as Mallaro doubled to left field and Brennan plated him with an RBI double to deep left center field.
After the RedHawks made the score 5-4 with an RBI double in the bottom of the fifth, Alex Thrower was able to cause problems on the base paths and scored a run to give UB the two run lead, 6-4. Thrower earned his 37th walk of the season before stealing second base and advancing to third after an errant throw by the Miami catcher. He then touched home plate on a wild pitch, his 31st run of the season.
Ben Vey entered the game out of the bullpen in the seventh inning and pitched a quick 1-2-3 inning as he struck out a pair of RedHawks to send the game to the eighth with UB leading 6-4.
After a quick top half of the eighth inning, the RedHawks threatened in the bottom of the inning. Miami was able to load the bases after two singles and a walk before they were able to pick up a run as Vey walked a batter with the bases loaded, forcing home the run and making the score 6-5 in favor of UB. Vey battled back on the next batter as he was able to strike him out looking on the full count pitch, sending the game to the ninth.
The Bulls went 1-2-3 in the ninth before Logan Harasta came in out of the Buffalo bullpen looking for his fifth save of the season. The flamethrower came out throwing hard and struck out the first two batters before forcing a lineout to first to end the game and give the Bulls the 6-5 series opening victory.
Kwitzer continued to swing a hot bat with runners in scoring position for the Bulls on Saturday as he finished the game going 1-for-5 with three RBI and a run scored. On the season, Kwitzer is now 4-for-9 (.444) with the bases loaded and 18-for-41 (.439) with runners in scoring position. He now has notched a team-best five games this season with at least three RBI.
Brennan had a strong game at the plate as he went 2-for-5 with two RBI while Mallaro finished off his afternoon going 1-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk in the win. Haefner was able to draw two walks and a run while Tomasulo extending his reaching base safely streak to 13 straight games with a single and a run.
Sobieraski was affective once again on the mound for the Bulls on Saturday as he went 6.0 innings while allowing six hits, four runs and striking out seven batters in his second win of the season. On the year, Sobieraski has struck out 49 batters in 64.2 innings of work. Vey finished off his afternoon going 2.0 innings while allowing two hits and a run while striking out four batters. Harasta notched his career-best fifth save as he pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts.
The Bulls and RedHawks will wrap up their three-game series on Sunday with a doubleheader which will start at 11:00 am at McKie Field. The second game of the doubleheader will begin approximately 30 minutes after the completion of game one. Shawn Dubin will take the mound in game one and Brent Cleland will pitch game two for UB.