BUFFALO, NY - The Bulls did a little bit of everything well Friday afternoon, beating Miami (OH) 9-3 at Amherst Audubon Field. Behind seven strong innings from starter Cameron Copping and the highest run total so far in its 15 Mid-American Conference games, Buffalo never trailed and picked up a crucial East Division win.
"From the first inning to the ninth, I thought it was the most complete game we've played all year," head coach Ron Torgalski said. "We were focused from the offensive side and delivered with runners in scoring position, moved runners over when we needed to, got some hits with two outs, we read the balls in the dirt well and stole a couple bases. We were locked in today offensively."
The Bulls were on point right away, with Matt Pollock leading off the game with a double. A sacrifice bunt from Jason Kanzler and a walk to Dan Scahill put runners on first and third, and Miami starter Brooks Fiala's wild pitch moved Scahill to second and scored Pollock. With two outs, Thomas Richards smoked a double to right center that scored Scahill standing up and gave Copping a 2-0 lead after just the first inning.
Another run was tacked on in the third thanks to an aggressive Kanzler, who led off the inning with a single and stole second despite the Redhawks pitching out to try and nail him. After putting himself in scoring position, Scahill hit a liner that eluded the stretched arm of Miami's first baseman, extending Buffalo's lead.
A wild streak by Copping lead to three Miami runs in the top of the fourth, but in the bottom of the frame the offense defending their senior starter with three runs of its own. Alex Baldock led off with a walk, and Mike Burke punched one of his three hits on the day through the hole in the left side of the infield. Mike Scarcello came through with one of his three total sacrifices on the day to move both runners into scoring position with only one out. Another wild pitch from Fiala scored Baldock to put UB back up. Jon Mestas drew a walk and moved up on yet another wild pitch, and Pollock converted with a two-run double to bring the team ahead 6-3.
The Redhawk pitching staff's wild streak struck again in the sixth inning, with Mike Burke leading off with a single, moving to third on a sacrifice followed by a hit from Mestas, and scoring on a wild pitch from reliever Joe Neff.
Copping earned another quality start in conference play after throwing seven innings and allowing just two earned runs. The senior struck out three batters and allowed five hits on the day, pitching out of jams in the fifth and seventh innings.
River McWilliams came in as a reliever in the eighth inning and struck out the first batter he faced. After walking the next batter, he induced a double play, the defense's second in the game.
In the eighth inning, Scahill came through again to pad the lead and hit a two-run double that scored Mestas and Burke. After going 3-29 over the past eight games, the senior rebounded in a big way with his two hits and three RBI.
"He (Scahill) came up big today," Torgalski said. "He went through the same thing last year where he had a slump and he was able to come out of it and get hot at the end of the season. We're hoping he's turned the corner and he'll do that again this season."
The offense was opportunistic thanks to strong starts, with the leadoff hitters reaching in six of the team's eight innings on the day.
"These guy realize we're only a few games out of the playoff race now and this is a huge weekend," Torgalski said. "You have to win games at home and hopefully we take advantage and win two more games this weekend."