KALAMAZOO, MI – The University at Buffalo baseball team (17-32, 8-14 MAC) wasn't able to hang onto the lead in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday afternoon on the road at Western Michigan as the Broncos provided a walk-off RBI single to collect the 6-5 win. The Bulls struggled all afternoon long with runners on base as they left 16 runners on in the loss.
The Broncos wasted no time getting on the board in the bottom of the first inning as they were able to earn back-to-back walks before Nate Grys singled up the middle to score Tanner Allison from second base and give the home team the 1-0 lead.
Buffalo responded quickly in the top of the second inning to tie the game, 1-1. Chris Kwitzer led off the inning with a single to right field before Brian Dudek laid down a perfect bunt and reached first base. Eddie Edwards III then stepped in and grounded a ball to shortstop where the Broncos sure-handed fielder made a throwing error that allowed Kwitzer to score.
UB starter Charlie Sobieraski was able to get out of a pair of jams in the second and third innings to keep the game tied, 1-1. In the second, after allowing back-to-back singles he was able to induce a 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning without allowing a run. In the third, Sobieraski was able to force a lineout to Andrew Taft at first base to send the game to the fourth still tied.
The Bulls looked like they were poised to score the go ahead run in the top of the fourth inning as they loaded the bases with just one out. Kyle Brennan reached on an error before Dudek and Edwards III each notched bunt singles but Alex Thrower grounded into a double play to end the threat.
After the Broncos took the 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Bulls were able to answer with two runs of their own in the fifth to tie the game back up, 3-3. Vinny Mallaro was able to crush a double, his 13th of the season, to deep left center field to score Ben Haefner from first base to make it 3-2 in favor of the broncos. UB was then able to load the bases and Dudek delivered an RBI sacrifice fly to deep center to score Mallaro from third.
Western Michigan was able to regain the 4-3 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning as they collected three straight singles with two outs in the inning off of Sobieraski.
After a scoreless seventh inning, the Bulls were able to knot the game, 4-4, in the eighth as Edwards III opened the inning with a single and came around to score on a Haefner single to left field.
Buffalo then gained the lead for the first time all game in the top of the ninth inning thanks to a Phillip Tomasulo sacrifice fly to deep center field to score Dudek from third. Dudek led off the inning with a double to right before a pair of walks to Edwards III and Alex Thrower loaded the bases full of Bulls for Tomasulo who delivered the go-ahead RBI.
UB closer Logan Harasta came into the game in the bottom of the ninth looking for his seventh save of the season but it wasn't his afternoon. After getting two outs with a runner on first base, Grys was able to double to right center to score the game-tying run. The very next batter, Forestell then delivered the game-winning RBI single to center field to give the Broncos the 6-5 win.
Dudek was able to finish off his game going 3-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored while Tomasulo went a perfect 3-for-3 with an RBI and a walk in the defeat. Kwitzer continued to hit the ball well as he went 2-for-3 with two walks and a run while Haefner went 2-for-6 with an RBI and a run. Mallaro was able to go 1-for-5 with an RBI and a run. The senior became the first player in UB history to record two 50+ RBI seasons as he is up to 51 RBI this season, two shy of the single season record.
On the mound, Sobieraski went 5.2 innings and allowed 11 hits, four runs and struck out two batters. Ben Vey continued his strong pitching out of the bullpen as he went 2.1 innings and allowed just one hit and struck out one batter.
The Bulls and Broncos will return to the diamond tomorrow for the second game of the three game series as Shawn Dubin will take the mound for UB. Game time is set for 3:00 pm on Friday.