Buffalo Holds Off Ninth Inning Rally to Eliminate WMU From MAC Tournament
AVON, Ohio- No. 8 seed Buffalo defeated No. 5 seed Western Michigan 10-8 in Friday's elimination game, as the Broncos bowed out of the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Western Michigan was close to pulling off an incredible comeback, scoring six runs in the bottom of the ninth, four of those with two outs. The tying run was on base when Buffalo recorded the final out.
The Bulls broke open a 2-1 game with four runs in the top of the fifth and maintained a steady lead until WMU's last inning rally. UB held a 10-2 advantage headed into the bottom of the ninth.
The Broncos batted through the order in their final at bat, Jared Kujawa getting things started with a single up the middle, followed by a pinch hit single from Theo Piccirilli. Pinch hitter Caleb Caton reached on an error, allowing the first run to score. With one out, Zach Thoma drove in a run with a sac fly to right field.
In his last collegiate at bat, Jack Scanlon charged the rally with a two-out, two-run bomb off the scoreboard in right for his fourth home run of the season, cutting the deficit to 10-6. Ryan McMillin lined a single to left and Patrick Duncan dropped in a ground-rule double.
McMillin would have to hold at third and scored on a base hit to the hole at short by Forton. Kujawa plated Duncan with his second single of the inning, bringing the Broncos within two, 10-8. With two runners on and representing the go-ahead run, Piccirilli got a good look at a pitch and sent it out to right center. The ball hung for just a moment too long, allowing the right fielder to make the catch on the run in the gap for the final out.
Buffalo had scored three runs in the top of the ninth and needed all three for the win. Both teams put a run on the board in the first, and UB took the lead with a run in second.
Buffalo held a 7-1 advantage after five and a half innings. McMillin chalked WMU's second tally with a solo home run to left in the bottom of the sixth.
Buffalo right-handed starter Mike Burke (5-6) threw eight complete innings and faced two batters in the ninth, earning the win. Reliever Anthony Macgovney couldn't finish the Broncos off and Dan Ginader was called upon to complete the save.
Freshman RHP Will Nimke (4-4) took the loss in the start for WMU, giving up six runs (three earned) and four hits over 4.1 innings. Four different pitchers appeared out of the Bronco bullpen.
Western Michigan recorded seven of its 15 hits in the bottom of the ninth and had just four hits until the sixth. McMillin finished 3-for-4 with a home run, double and two RBIs. Booker, Duncan, Forton and Kujawa each had two hits.
Western Michigan ends the 2012 season with an overall record of 26-29. The Broncos defeated No. 4 Ohio in the first round of the tournament Wednesday, 4-2, and fell to No. 1 Kent State Thursday, 12-3.