Trio of Home Runs Support Copping's Productive Day
TOLEDO, OH - From the first at bat of the game, the Buffalo baseball team was prepared. Despite a nearly 90-minute delay due to poor weather, the Bulls (13-29, 6-12 MAC) struck hard and fast against the West division-leading Toledo Rockets (23-22, 12-7 MAC), winning 5-1 Friday evening in the series opener. Cameron Copping pitched into the eighth inning and Matt Pollock stroked a pair of home runs in a must-win Mid-American Conference game.
Pollock led off the game with a solo home run in the first inning, and he was followed two batters later by Tom Murphy, who hit his second home run in the past three games to stake the team to an early 2-0 lead.
Copping allowed a one-out hit in the bottom of the first inning, but then held the Rockets hitless until the seventh, when he allowed a single to the first batter in the inning before inducing a double play just two batters later to end the inning without harm.
While the senior pitcher went to work, the offense extended the lead to five runs after just four innings. Pollock hit his tenth home run of the season after tucking a solo effort inside the left field foul pole. Jon Mestas effectively put the game out of reach, coming through with two-out clutch hitting in the fourth inning.
Alex Baldock started the inning with a single before the next two batters were retired on fly outs. River McWilliams, playing in the field for the first time since April 17, hit a single to left to move Baldock to second. That hit set up Mestas' single back up the middle that easily scored Baldock and also brought in a hustling McWilliams all the way from first to give UB a 5-0 lead.
Toledo finally got on the board in the eighth inning thanks to a solo home run on what would be the team's third and final hit of the day. After recording one out in the ninth, Copping was lifted for a red-hot McWilliams, who earned his third save in the past three weekends after stranding inherited runners on first and second with two harmless fly balls to end the game.
Copping finished the game with four strikeouts and just three hits and the lone run. Now 4-3 this season, he has a 2.85 earned run average and is limiting his opponents to just a .212 batting average in seven conference starts.
Hoping to win its second straight MAC series, the Bulls and Rockets will square off tomorrow at 1 pm.