Offense Continues To Shine As Bulls Sweep Niagara
BUFFALO, NY – The University at Buffalo softball team combined for 20 runs and received a first-game shutout from Tori Speckman as the Bulls took a doubleheader from Niagara on Wednesday at Nan Harvey Field. UB won the first game 11-0 in five innings and took the second game 9-6 as it improves to 14-21 on the season. The Bulls have now won six of their last seven games.
In the opener, Speckman allowed just one hit, an infield single to the first batter of the game. From there, UB's offense took over scoring in all four innings it came to bat. The offensive frenzy started in the bottom of the first as Buffalo sent nine batters to the plate and scored five runs. The big hit in the inning came off the bat of sophomore Sammi Gallardo, who belted a two-run home run to center field. Freshman Alexis Curtiss drove in the first run of the game as she singled up the middle to score Holly Luciano. UB also picked up runs on an error from the Niagara center fielder and a single to left field from junior Jessica Griffin.
The Bulls continued to pour it on as they scored two runs in each the second, third and fourth innings. Luciano began the second inning with a triple to center field and scored as Ward hit a shot to left field, which was mishandled by the Niagara left fielder. Ward, who reached first on the error, was credited with a sacrifice fly. Gallardo than followed it up with sacrifice fly to center field, which scored Curtiss.
Junior Caitlin Dekker led off the third inning with a single and she was driven in on a towering home run from Andi Saucier, which cleared the scoreboard in center field. UB added two more runs in the fourth as Ward led the inning off with a single and was driven in on a triple by Sammi Gallardo, who came in to score on a wild pitch during the next at bat.
Speckman allowed just one hit and two walks as she struck out six in five innings, picking up the first of two victories on the day. Gallardo and Griffin each had two-hit games in the opener.
The second game was one where UB dominated early, but it took a three-run inning in the bottom of the sixth for the win. The Bulls began the action in the bottom of the first as Karly Nevez singled to second base and advanced on an error. Curtiss drew a walk and both moved into scoring position following a passed ball. Both Nevez and Curtiss came in to score on a single through the left side by Gallardo.
UB added two more runs in the bottom of the second as Saucier hit a two-out single up the middle. Luciano followed that up with another single up the middle and Nevez drove home Saucier with a single of her own. It was the sixth straight inning on the day that UB had scored in.
Buffalo got its lead up to six in the bottom of the fifth as Nevez led off with a walk. Following a couple of outs, Gallardo worked out a walk on a 15-pitch at bat. Both her and Nevez moved up into scoring position on a passed ball and both came in to score on a single from senior Kristin Waldron, who came on as a pinch hitter.
However, Niagara came through with a six-run inning in the top of the sixth, scoring five runs off of starter Holly Johnson before she was replaced with Speckman, who allowed the final run.
The Bulls were undeterred though and came right back to take the lead. Dekker led off the inning with a double to left field and Saucier reached on an error by the Niagara first baseman. Following a foul out for the second out, Nevez came up with the outfield drawn in. On a 1-2 count, Nevez hit a ball over the left fielder's head and used her speed as she hit UB's first inside-the-park home run of the season, scoring three runs. Speckman took care of Niagara in the seventh to preserve the victory.
Nevez went a perfect 3-for-3 in the game as she drove in a career-high four runs. Saucier also finished with a multiple hit game, finishing 2-for-3. In the two games combined, Gallardo had six runs batted in and now leads the team with 22.
With the two victories, Speckman improves her record to 11-10 on the year. She struck out two batters in the second game in 1.2 innings pitched. Nevez finished the doubleheader with four hits, while Saucier and Gallardo each had three.
"Anytime you can win two games it is a great day," said head coach Jen Teague. "I thought our offense was tremendous again and we got some real good pitching in game one. I told the team that we need to continue to get better each and every day, but they should enjoy these victories."
The Bulls will open a two-game series on Saturday against Kent State. First pitch is scheduled for 2:00 pm at Nan Harvey Field.