MEMPHIS, TN - The Buffalo baseball team looked well on its way to its seventh win of the season Friday evening, but the host Memphis Tigers scored all seven of its runs in the bottom of the fifth and held off the Bulls (6-5) for a 7-4 win. Mental mistakes, to the tune of three errors and five walks in the first 4.2 innings alone, allowed the Tigers (8-4) to score five of the seven runs unearned.
The Bulls were able to open up the scoring right away, with a run in the top of the first off a two-out rally. Tyler Mautner hit a two-out single, and moved up to second on a misplay from the outfielder on the hit. That would set him up for a score as Alex Baldock hit his fifth double of the season to left field that brought in Mautner.
Two more runs would come across in the third inning to push the UB lead to 3-0. After a one-out walk drawn by Jon Mestas, Jason Kanzler split the left center field gap for a run-scoring double. He would move to third on a groundout, and Baldock again came through with a two-out conversion, singling his second hit of the day to left that brought Kanzler trotting home. The Bulls would not get past second base for the next five innings, though, and Memphis would strike back in the fifth.
UB starter Mike McGee had a promising start to the game, facing just one batter over the minimum through the first three innings thanks to some crafty play by both himself and his defense behind him. In the first inning, he recovered from a leadoff walk and error to strike out the next three batters. In the second and fourth innings, he induced double plays to stifle the Tigers. The fifth inning would not be as kind to the sophomore.
The Tigers leadoff batter drew a walk in the fifth and then stole second. An error by the UB infield put runners on the corner still with no outs. A suicide squeeze would bring in the first run and move the runner over to second with one out. A hit batter put two runners on, and a double steal would move them both into scoring position. Another walk would load the bases, and the Bulls nearly escaped unharmed but could not turn the 5-2-3 double play to end it. McGee's day would end after walking home a run on a 3-2 count to make it 3-2 Buffalo.
Cory Folk could not provide enough relief, as the first Tiger he would face would clear the bases with a double that moved him all the way to third on another UB error. Two more run-scoring hits in a row would end Folk's brief day, and Tyler Wilson was able to end the frustrating fifth inning that ended with Memphis up 7-3.
After being held in check for most of the game, the Bulls came back in the ninth with a brief rally. Hits by Jimmy Topps and Jon Mestas put two runners in scoring position with just one out, but only a sacrifice fly from Kanzler would be the only offense the team could muster.
Buffalo struck out a season-high 15 times in the game, but still out-hit the Tigers 10-6. The UB bullpen was outstanding to close out the game, as Wilson and Ben Hartz combined to pitch 3.1 innings and allowed just one hit and no walks over that stretch. Mestas and Baldock led the team with three hits apiece in the game, with Baldock and Kanzler each driving in a pair of runs.
The two teams will be back at it again tomorrow, playing a doubleheader ahead of poor weather in the forecast. Game one will start at 2 pm EST, with game two to follow 45 minutes after the end of game one. Anthony Magovney and Mike Burke will get the ball for UB.