BUFFALO, NY - Despite a career day from sophomore starting pitcher Mike Burke, a two-out rally from Eastern Michigan (24-25, 14-10 MAC) coupled with a critical error allowed the Eagles to score four runs in the top of the ninth to steal the series victory from from the Bulls (15-32, 8-15 MAC), 4-3, on Sunday afternoon.
Burke was solid throughout the game, allowing only three hits through the first eight innings of the game. After the two teams had combined to score nearly 40 runs in the opening pair of games in the series, it was a pitcher's duel for much of the game. The Bulls struck first in the bottom of the fourth, with Tom Murphy drawing a walk and moving to third on a single by Dan Scahill. Alex Baldock then brough him home with a sacrifice fly to right field.
That would be all the scoring the two teams would muster until the bottom of the eighth, when Matt Pollock started things off with a one-out double down the left field line. He would score immediately after, when Jason Kanzler snuck a ground ball up the middle past a diving second baseman that scored Pollock and gave UB a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the ninth, Burke got two quick outs before the Eagles offense got hot. Three straight singles brought in a run and a pitching change, with third baseman River McWilliams moving to the mound to try and close out the game with runners on first and second.
EMU pinch hitting Bo Kinder hit a single to right field to bring in the tying run. The throw home from the outfield was cut off by Baldock to try and nab Kinder, who was trying to reach second. The ball went wide and dribbled into left center, scoring all three runners and claiming a 4-2 lead.
The Bulls mounted a two-out comeback of its own in the bottom of the ninth, with Baldock getting a single and Mike Scarcello drawing a walk from a 3-2 count. Eagle closer Joe Battistelli then plunked Jon Mestas and Pollock to bring in one run and load the bases, but that would be all for the Bulls.
Buffalo is down but not out of the race for the Mid-American Conference tournament just yet. With Akron and Miami (OH) getting swept this weekend, the Bulls chance at the tournament is still there. Heading into the final MAC series of the season, UB will play Bowling Green (19-31, 8-16 MAC) on Thursday needing to win at least two of the three games to have a chance.
Before that, though, Buffalo will close out the Big Four season with a Tuesday doubleheader against St. Bonaventure. Game one is scheduled for noon.