2012 Baseball Season Ends in MAC Semifinals; Murphy Sets HR Record
AVON, OH - The Buffalo baseball team huddles up after every game, win or lose, but Friday evening there was a different feel to the meeting. The Bulls lost 8-3 to the number one seed Kent State in the Mid-American Conference tournament's semifinal round to end its season, but so many boundaries were pushed by the 2012 team that not one single head was down.
"All year long we didn't feel like the eighth seed, and even coming in there were a lot of teams in the tournament that we had already beaten, head coach Ron Torgalski said. "We didn't come in just happy to be here, we wanted to take care of business and show what kind of team we are."
"I told the team after the game that this is something to be proud of, we put Buffalo on the map and hopefully every single team going forward will strive to match what we did here this week," said Tom Murphy, who likely will become the team's highest-ever draft pick in the upcoming MLB draft. "We knew all along that we could compete with any team out there. We played the way we knew we could and it showed."
Coming into its first-ever appearance in the tournament, few expected the eighth-seeded Bulls to accomplish anything other than just being there, but the team won two games and sent a pair of teams home early before losing to the Flashes in the afternoon. After holding off Western Michigan earlier in the morning, Buffalo started strong with three quick runs off Kent State starter Tyler Skulina in the first inning, but could do no more than that.
Matt Pollock led of the game with a hustle single on a grounder to second base that beat the throw and also forced an error that moved him to second. He would score immediately after thanks to a ground-rule double by Jason Kanzler, who finished the season with a 14-game hitting streak. Then Murphy stepped in and deposited a two-run home run that landed just fair over the wall in left field for his thirteenth round tripper of the season. That now makes the junior catcher the all-time single season home run king.
"It (the record) means a lot to me and it's a tribute to the guys around me," Murphy said about the significant record.
It was fitting that the team would get its three runs in the game from its trio of junior standouts. From Pollock ending with two infield singles and a day where it seemed he was always on base, to Kanzler's speedy defense and timely hits, the third-year juniors were no doubt the catalyst for the team in 2012.
"They're my best friends on and off the field it just shows you that the class that came in with me my freshman year is the best that UB has ever seen," Murphy said. "Hopefully we can keep bringing in players like that in the future."
After securing the save in the win over Western Michigan, Dan Ginader was given the ball as the starter and worked two innings. He was relieved by Mike McGee before McGee gave way to Kevin Crumb and Anthony Magovney to close out the game.
The Bulls finish the season with program records for most games in a season as well as the most at bats, innings pitched and doubles, among many others.
"It was a season of firsts. We did a lot of good things and we had a group of guys that came out to work every day and it was great to have them be rewarded with a trip to the tournament," head coach Ron Torgalski said. "Hopefully we can build on this with the seasons to come. I told the kids to leave here with their heads held high because they overcame a lot of adversity, and I thanked them for all that they've done for me as a coach this season."