NASHVILLE, TN - The Buffalo baseball team played one of its biggest non-conference games in recent history Wednesday, traveling to Vanderbilt for a single mid-week game against the Commodores (16-2), who came into the day ranked second in the country. The Bulls (7-8) threatened late after a slow start to the game, and had a chance to steal a win.
In front of a crowd of over 2,200 fans, the Buffalo offense stalled early against freshman starter Walker Buehler, who kept the team hitless through the first four innings of the game and allowed just one walk over the stretch.
He would run into trouble in the fifth inning as the Bulls would make a two-out rally. Thomas Richards led off with a single to break up the no-hitter, but a double play would immediately eliminate him. That would be no matter for the Bulls, which used two walks and a single to load up the bases. A wild pitch would bring in the run and make it a 2-1 game.
The Bulls kept it close thanks to a solid day defensively. Starter Zach Stephens was able to manage the powerful Vandy offense despite some control issues. The Commodores were only able to get a pair of runs off sacrifice flies in the second and fourth innings. Ben Hartz would pitch two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
Stephens would eventually be chased after allowing two more runs in the sixth. His day would consiste of three earned runs on seven hits in six innings, while he walked five and struck out five. The UB offense would send the minimum three batters to the plate in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, but would rally in the ninth.
The Bulls got to the Vandy bullpen late in the game and had a chance to tie it in the ninth. Jason Kanzler would use a bunt single to lead off, and a walk would get the team in business. A groundout would move both runners into scoring position before a strikeout would but Buffalo's back against the wall.
With two strikes and two outs against him, Mike Burke singled up the middle to cut the Vandy lead to 4-2 and put runners on the corners. The 'Dores went to the bullpen and its everyday closer, who was able to get the save with a fly out to end it.
Buffalo will now have a day to rest before a four-game weekend series in Dayton. The team will play two games against Dayton and two games against Oakland (MI). The round-robin weekend will start Friday with an 11 am game against Oakland and a 3 pm game against the host Flyers.