BUFFALO, NY - The University at Buffalo softball team received another outstanding pitching performance from senior Tori Speckman and they hit three home runs as the Bulls shut out Eastern Michigan, 7-0, Saturday afternoon at Nan Harvey Field. The win improved the Bulls to 19-17 and 3-2 in MAC play.
Speckman allowed just two hits as she struck out 10 batters, including all three in the top of the first. She then turned it over to her offense, who gave her a lot of run support. For the second straight day, senior Sammi Gallardo led off the bottom of the first inning with a solo home run, this time hitting it to right center. UB scored a second run in the inning as junior Karly Nevez stole third and came in to score on a throwing error from the Eastern Michigan catcher.
Speckman continued to retire the side in order in the second and again in the third as the Bulls added one in the bottom of the third and it would come off the bat of Gallardo again.
The senior from Chula Vista, CA took an 0-1 pitch and drilled it over the left field fence for her second home run of the game and her 11th of the season, setting a new single-season home run record. The previous record of 10 was set by UB Hall of Famer Breanne Nasti in 2001. The two-home run game is the seventh in school history and the second time Gallardo has done it this week. She becomes the first player in school history to have more than one multi-home run game in a season and only the second player to do it in her career, joining Nasti.
The Bulls took the 3-0 lead into the fourth inning when the Eagles recorded their first hit after Speckman had retired 10 in a row to start the game. They got a runner to third with two outs, but remained stranded.
UB went on to increase its lead again in the fourth inning as freshman Jessica Taylor hit her first career home run, a shot to straight center, driving in two runs and increasing the advantage to 5-0. The Bulls tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning as Gallardo was intentionally walked to start the frame. The Bulls put two runners on when freshman Savanna Norcio hit a ground ball up the third base line, which took a favorable hop in the dirt and scooted into left field, scoring sophomore Kenzie Koch, who came in as a pinch runner. Junior Hayley Barrow moved to third and junior Alexis Curtiss came in as a pinch runner at first.
Curtiss, who hasn't played in nearly two weeks due to injury, then helped execute a perfect double steal as she took off for second and Barrow stole home for the seventh run of the game. Speckman retired the final five batters, including three via the strikeout.
"Sammi got us off to a great start like she has been doing lately by swinging the bat well, and hitting bombs, which is always exciting and it helped create the momentum for us today," said head coach Trena Peel. "Tori continued to do her job and she was hitting her spots, only allowing two hits, and that's what you want from your senior."
Speckman improves to 13-9, just one win shy of the single-season school record. She also picked up the 39th win of her career, just three away from the school record. Speckman allowed just two hits, while striking out 10 to give her 157 for the season, which is the third most in one year. Her 459 career strikeouts are second most in school history. All 10 of Speckman's strike outs on Saturday came on swings and misses.
Offensively, the Bulls had six hits led by Gallardo's 2-for-2 performance with two home runs and a walk. In addition to Taylor's home run, Nevez, Norcio and senior Holly Luciano all recorded hits.
The Bulls and Eagles will conclude their two-game series tomorrow afternoon at 1:00pm at Nan Harvey Field.