TOLEDO, OH - Powered by Jason Kanzler's career-best five runs batted in, the Bulls (14-30, 7-13 MAC) continued its late season charge to the Mid-American Conference tournament Sunday with a 6-2 win over the Toledo Rockets (24-23, 13-8 MAC). It was the team's third series win over the past four conference weekends, and it keeps it in the running for the final spot in the looming May 23 tournament.
Already having a standout year playing lockdown defense in center field, Kanzler provided the team a much-need boost at the plate just a day after the Bulls were held to just five hits in a shutout loss. In the third inning, the junior scored Jon Mestas and Matt Pollock on a home run down the left field line to give starting pitcher Mike Burke an early 3-0 cushion.
The Rockets earned a run back in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly, but Burke was solid and pitched deftly around numerous jams. Burke earned the win on the day after throwing seven innings and striking out three while scattering six hits and allowing just the lone run in the third.
Buffalo's offense extended its lead in the fifth inning by taking a different approach at the plate. After running out to the lead thanks to power hitting, the Bulls found success within the infield to plate a pair of runs. River McWilliams led off with a single, and when Mestas went to sacrifice him over to second, Toledo pitcher Michael Hamann's throw to first was off and allowed both runners to reach safely on the error.
With still no outs, Matt Pollock lowered his bat for a sacrifice attempt, but he was able to beat out the throw and load up the bases. Kanzler brought in McWilliams with a sacrifice fly and Dan Scahill scored Mestas on a suicide squeeze that gave UB a 5-1 advantage.
Burke was relieved by Anthony Magovney in the eighth, and the freshman allowed just a one-out single and nothing more to Toledo.
In the ninth inning, Kanzler capped his day with a double down the left field line to score McWilliams, who then moved to the mound in the ninth and loaded the bases with one out, but allowed just a sacrifice fly before ending the threat and sealing the win.
Kanzler's five runs batted in match his career high that was set last season against Delaware State. Pollock and Alex Baldock also had two hits in the game, while McWilliams and Mestas set the table and scored two times apiece.
The quest for the program's first appearance in the MAC Tournament will not get any easier, as the Bulls welcome in Eastern Michigan next weekend. The Eagles spent this weekend sweeping Bowling Green and rooting for the Bulls, who helped out second-place EMU by taking the pair of games from the West division leaders in Toledo. First pitch at Amherst Audubon Field Friday is scheduled for 1 pm.