MAC-leading Kent State downs UB with walk-off home run in the 12th inning, 5-4

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KENT, OH – The University at Buffalo baseball team fell to 0-6 in extra-inning games this season as the Kent State Golden Flashes notched a walk-off solo home run to down the Bulls, 5-4, on Friday night at Schoonover Stadium. With the loss, the Bulls drop to 14-27 overall and 6-13 in MAC play on the year.

The Golden Flashes were able to get on the board early in the first inning as Luke Burch opened the inning with a double before coming around to score on a throwing error by Charlie Sobieraski at third base on an attempted sacrifice bunt.

Both starting pitchers began to cruise after the first inning as neither offense was able to put together any offensive threat until the bottom of the seventh when Kent State struck for two more runs, making the score 3-0 in favor of the home team. Kent State got a leadoff single and the runner advanced to third after a stolen base and a sacrifice before Tuohy got the second out of the inning. Reilly Hawkins then stepped in and hit a dribbling single to the pitcher that scored the runner from third before he came around to score on a double down the left field line.

With time running out, the Bulls put together one of their best innings of the season in the eighth inning as they were able to score four runs and take the 4-3 lead, their first lead of the game. Bobby Sheppard and Brian Dudek led off the inning with back-to-back singles before Vinny Mallaro was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out. Kyle Brennan then stepped in and hit a ground ball to second that was mishandled by the fielder and Sheppard and Dudek were able to come around to score. After a strikeout, Chris Kwitzer ripped a double into right center to score Mallaro and Brennan to give the Bulls the lead, his 16th and 17th RBI’s of the season.

Kent State didn’t waste much time tying the game in the bottom half of the eighth inning as the Bulls replaced Tuohy with Logan Harasta to start the inning. The Golden Flashes opened the inning with a triple by Dylan Rosa and he came around to score on a Conner Simonetti single up the middle, making the score 4-4.

After a quick top of the ninth by the Bulls, Harasta got an inning-ending double play via a fly ball to center and a runner leaving early from second base to force a 10th inning, the Bulls sixth extra inning game of the season.

The Bulls had their best chance to score the go-ahead run in the 10th inning as Mallaro started the inning with a single to left field before Andrew Taft and Brian Wasilewski each earned walks to load the bases with two outs. With a chance to give the Bulls the lead, Alex Thrower struck out swinging to end the inning.

After a scoreless 11th inning, the Golden Flashes ended the game in the bottom of the 12th inning as Zarley Zalewski connected on a walk-off solo homer to deep left field, giving Kent State the 5-4 victory on Friday night.

Tuohy had another great outing on the mound for the Bulls as he gave them a chance to win in the no decision, going 7.0 innings while allowing nine hits, three runs and striking out two Kent State batters. Harasta picked up the loss on the mound despite a solid outing from the Buffalo bullpen as the sophomore went 4.2 innings while allowing just three hits and two runs while striking out a career-high six strikeouts.

Mallaro once again led the Bulls at the plate as he finished off his game going 2-for-5 with a run scored, extending his career-best hitting streak to nine straight games. The Syracuse native has now reached base safely in a career-best 20 straight games while also bumping up his batting average to .392 in MAC games and .331 overall this season.

After pinch hitting, Kwitzer finished off his game going 1-for-4 with two RBI while Dudek finished off his game going 2-for-6 with a run scored. Sheppard went 1-for-6 at the dish with his team-leading 27th run scored on the year.

The Bulls and the Golden Flashes will return to Schoonover Stadium on Saturday afternoon at 12:00 pm for the second game of a three-game series. The game was originally set for 4:00 pm but due to expected inclement weather the game has been moved up. Sophomore Charlie Sobieraski (4-4, 4.87 ERA) will toe the rubber for the Bulls on Saturday.

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