BUFFALO, N.Y. – The Miami baseball team sat three outs away from a series opening victory at Buffalo on Friday, but will have to catch its breath and try to earn the win on Saturday.
Leading 8-3 in the ninth inning, the Bulls rallied to score five times and force extra innings. After both teams played a scoreless 10th, rain interrupted play and sent both teams home in an 8-8 tie. The contest will resume at 2 p.m. and will be immediately followed by the originally scheduled contest.
Both sides went down in order in the first two innings with Seth Varner fanning four UB batters and his pitching counterpart, Kevin Hughes, striking out two. MU recorded the game’s first hit when John Crummy singled with one out in the third, but a double play ball ended any possible rally. Varner continued his mastery of the Bulls the first time through the lineup by striking out the side in a 1-2-3 third inning, giving him seven punch outs after three innings.
Max Andresen’s two-out triple in the fourth was the first legitimate scoring opportunity for either team. The junior ripped a 1-0 pitch into the right center gap to station himself 90 feet from home. After falling behind 0-2, Gary Russo blasted a two-run homer over the wall in left center. His seventh home run of the season put the RedHawks ahead by a 2-0 count.
The Bulls roared right back by posting their first two hits of the game in the bottom of the fourth. Jimmy Topps singled and Nick Sinay followed with a double to move the tying run into scoring position. Matt Pollock’s RBI groundout put UB on the board and Sinay stole third to bring the tying run 90 feet away from scoring with one away. Varner struck out Tyler Mautner and Mike Burke for the second time each to escape the jam with the lead intact.
Miami got the run back in the top of the fifth. Matt Honchel drew a leadoff walk and a UB throwing error on a sacrifice bunt put runners and second and third with nobody out. Crummy lofted a sacrifice fly to center that brought Honchel around, upping MU’s lead to 3-1.
The Red and White threatened in the top of the sixth by putting two runners aboard on a single and a hit batter, but Hughes got out of the jam with a strikeout. The Bulls were rejuvenated after dodging trouble and rallied in the bottom of the frame. Brian Dudek reached base on an infield hit and advanced on Topps’ sacrifice bunt. Sinay doubled him home and scored on Pollock’s single up the middle to even the score at 3-3 after six complete frames.
Miami regained the lead with a pair of runs in the top of the seventh. Scott Slappey singled and stole second to start the frame and Crummy moved him up with a sacrifice bunt. After a Steve Sada walk, Ryan Elble brought him home with a successful squeeze bunt that put MU back in front. Dan Walsh followed with an RBI single through the box that made it a 5-3 ballgame.
Varner was strong over the next couple innings, getting an inning ending double play in the seventh and retiring the side in order in the eighth.
The Red and White appeared to put the game out of reach in the top of the ninth when they took advantage of two Bulls’ errors to score three more runs. A walk and UB error put two runners aboard and a bunt by Walsh moved both into scoring position. Andresen drew another free pass to load the bases and Russo’s fielder’s choice ground out brought home Sada to up the lead to three. After Chad Sedio got hit by a pitch to load the bases, another UB error brought two more runs in to give the RedHawks an 8-3 lead.
With a five-run spread, Varner tried to finish what he started. That would not happen as Pollock walked and Mautner homered to cut the lead to 8-5 two batters in. That home run ended Varner’s outing as the senior gave way to Ryan Powers. Buffalo continued its rally with Burke singling and Thomas Richards getting hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate. After a strikeout, Vinny Mallaro drilled a pinch hit single up the middle to pull within two. The game was tied up one batter later on a pinch-hit two-run double by Chris Kwitzer.
Miami’s half of the 10th featured a one-out walk, but no real scoring threat. Buffalo, however, loaded the bases on a leadoff single and a one-out walk and hit batter. Powers kept the winning run from scoring with a strikeout and a fly out that sent the game to the 11th. The rain became too much to continue playing and play was halted.