Baldock's Heroics Lead UB to Walk-Off Win
AVON, OH - Facing potential elimination in its first-ever appearance in the Mid-American Conference tournament, the Buffalo Bulls (18-35) turned to its veterans Wednesday afternoon, walking off with a 6-5 win in the tenth inning against Ohio (28-29) on a double from junior Alex Baldock. The first baseman hit a two-out double to right center field to plate Matt Pollock and ensure the Bulls will play into Friday.
After the Bobcats tied the game at 5-5 with a two-out solo home run in the top of the ninth off River McWilliams, the Bulls responded in the bottom of the tenth. Pollock took the first pitch of the inning off his left shoulder, and Jason Kanzler punched a single through the left side to get the team in business. Back-to-back strikeouts put the pressure on Baldock, but he wasted no time and drove a 1-0 pitch over the heads of the Ohio outfielders in right center, who were playing in to prevent any potential singles.
"We got the first two guys on base and I thought about bunting with Dan Scahill but I wanted to give him an opportunity to swing," said head coach Ron Torgalski. "I figured if we bunted with Dan they would walk Murph (Tom Murphy) and take the bat out of his hands. It almost backfired with the two strikeouts, but Alex came through for us."
Baldock was busy all day for the team, as he also followed up a two-run home run from Tom Murphy with a solo home run to left field in the fourth inning to give Buffalo a 3-1 lead. Both Murphy and Baldock turned hard on 3-2 fastballs and hit the first and second home runs of the entire tournament.
The Bobcats scored three unanswered runs in the fifth and sixth innings to chase senior starter Jeff Thompsonfrom the game. Despite leaving down by one, Thompson had a solid day and allowed the four runs but walked only one batter while striking out two. He was relieved by McWilliams, who was terrific over his four innings of relief. Despite the slight blip with the home run in the ninth, the reliever earned his second win of the season after allowing just three hits and two strikeouts with no walks.
The career day from Baldock is a welcome sight for the Ottawa, Ontario native and his coaching staff. He continues to battle back from a debilitating broken wrist that forced him to miss nearly a month of action and even more time spent trying to strengthen the area. The solo home run was just his second of the season, while the game-winning double was his eleventh.
"Alex continues to improve," Torgalski said. "The last couple weeks he has swung it a lot better and he's getting better every day. He's starting to hit his stride at the right time."
Along with Baldock's two hits, Jason Kanzler had a pair of singles and Murphy went 2-3 with a double, the two-run homer to left, and a walk.
With the win, the Bulls eliminated Ohio from the tournament and secured its first win ever in its second game ever. The team will now rest up and take the rest of the day off before an early morning start to its third game. The Bulls will face either Kent State or Western Michigan at 9 am Friday, with sophomore Mike Burkelikely earning the start for UB. The pregame show will start at approximately at 8:50 with live audio available through BuffaloBulls.com.