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2014 MAC Baseball Preview: Buffalo Bulls

After more than a decade in the MAC Buffalo finally put together a great MAC season. Can Ron Torgalski do it again.

When Buffalo joined the Mid American conference towards the end of the 1990's it meant resurrecting a baseball program which had been dead since the 1980's. UB did not have and have not invested in the facilitates needed by a competitive MAC program. It seems the school was content to be in the Bowl Subdivision and focused their efforts to that team.

So it was that baseball limped along for its first decade. The team was never really competitive in the conference but they were "doing their job" by keeping Buffalo in the MAC.

That situation was not good enough for UB coach Ron Torgalski. In 2007 Torgalski took over a program that faces far more funding and scholarship hurdles than most of his conference peers.

Slowly Torgalski started to pull in the players he needed to play respectable ball in the MAC. The games kept getting closer but the records still put UB near the basement and out of MAC post season play. But then in 2011 something sparked and this team has not been the same since.

It Began with Tom Murphy and his explosive bat. Murphy and a power hitting bulls team surged late in the season to make the MAC tournament for the first time. The Bulls ranked third in the east and manged to upend both Western Michigan and Ohio in the conference double elimination tournament. UB was knocked out in the semi finals by Kent, who went on that year to the College World Series.

When Murphy graduated there was a general feeling that the Bulls would regress back to their former selves.

Once again Torgalski and his team proved that funding does not beat fundamentals. Behind a very good three man rotation on the mound and great relief pitching from River McWilliams the Bulls tore through the conference.

In adition to good pitching Jason Kanzler led the Bulls to a strong season at the plate and UB ended up one Akron rain out away from clinching the regular season title.

Kanzler was named the Mid-American Conference Player of the Year. HIs senior season saw him bat .330 with 12 home runs, 53 runs batted in. Overall the senior was ranked among the top ten in nine different offensive categories. He left UB holding the single-season records for at bats (227), games played (57), and runs batted in (53).

With Kanzler drafted to the Minnesota Twins organization the question is can Torgalski do it again?

Starters Pos Year
Kyle Brennan C So.
Michael Burke* SS Sr.
Michael Scarcello* 3B Sr.
Tanner Robinson 2B Jr.
Thomas Richards RF Sr.
Jimmy Topps OF CF.
Matt Pollock LF R-Sr.
Tyler Mautner*@ 1B So.

Buffalo is returning a very strong Pitching staff. Mike Burke, Mike McGee, Anthony Magovney, and Cory Folk are all returning and with them a ton of UB's potential on the mound. A real challenge for coach Torgalski will be finding a reliever as solid as River McWilliams. McWilliams set several UB records last season including the number of saves in a single year and the career mark.

Ben Hartz will be the main reliever. Last season, as a freshman, Hartz was overshadowed by McWilliams but showed a tremendous amount of promise.

Jimmy Topps will be replacing Jason Kanzler in the outfield. Their is hope is that Tyler Mautner will replace his production at the plate as UB's designated hitter and first baseman.

When Burke is not patching he can be usually be found somewhere in the infield. He is the Bulls "Utility" player, the guy who has to be on the filed whenever possible.

He and Michael Scarcello move around quite a bit in the lineup. When Burke is pitching Scarcello often moves to short.

Repeating last years run is going to be hard. College teams from the North spend a lot of time on the road early on and that's a big strain. The Bulls also have to travel to Kent and NIU. Those two teams won their divisions last season and should both be hard road trips this year.

This season the Falcons are the defending MAC champions It was a loss against the falcons in the final game which cost UB the regular season title last season which coast UB the East Division. The year before it was a Buffalo win over Bowling Green on the final day of the year which put the Bulls into the MAC tournament.

It just seems like games against Bowling Green are always meaningful.

It could be that UB's ticket to the MAC Championships will hinge on the final games of the season when Bowling Green travels to Buffalo.

Buffalo retained enough of last years squad to remain a strong contender. For the first time in the modern era the Bulls will enter a baseball season with the expectation that they win. How the team fills in for McWilliams and Kanzler should determine if those expectations are met.

Date Opponent Time
Fri February 14 at Davidson 6:00 PM
Sat February 15 at Davidson 2:00 PM
Sun February 16 at Davidson 1:00 PM
Fri February 21 at Norfolk St. 11:00 AM
Sat February 22 vs. Villanova @ Norfolk State 11:00 AM
Sun February 23 vs. Quinnipiac @ Norfolk State Classic 10:00 AM
Fri February 28 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore @ VMI 12:30 PM
Fri February 28 at VMI 4:00 PM
Sat March 1 at VMI 4:00 PM
Sun March 2 vs. Maryland Eastern Shore @ VMI 12:30 PM
Fri March 7 at Georgia 6:00 PM
Sat March 8 vs. Western Caro. @ Athens, GA 5:00 PM
Sun March 9 vs. North Fla. @ Athens, GA 11:00 AM
Fri March 14 vs. Rutgers @ VCU 2:00 PM
Sat March 15 at Va. Commonwealth 4:00 PM
Sun March 16 vs. Lafayette @ VCU 10:00 AM
Wed March 19 at Valparaiso 3:00 PM
Fri March 21 * at Northern Illinois 3:00 PM
Sat March 22 * at Northern Illinois 1:00 PM
Sun March 23 * at Northern Illinois 1:00 PM
Tue March 25 at Canisius 3:00 PM
Fri March 28 * Ball State 3:00 PM
Sat March 29 * Ball State 1:00 PM
Sun March 30 * Ball State 1:00 PM
Tue April 1 at St. Bonaventure 2:00 PM
Tue April 1 at St. Bonaventure 4:30 PM
Fri April 4 * at Central Michigan 3:00 PM
Sat April 5 * at Central Michigan 1:00 PM
Sun April 6 * at Central Michigan 1:00 PM
Fri April 11 * Western Michigan 3:00 PM
Sat April 12 * Western Michigan 1:00 PM
Sun April 13 * Western Michigan 1:00 PM
Tue April 15 Niagara 2:00 PM
Tue April 15 Niagara 4:30 PM
Fri April 18 * ^ at Kent State 6:00 PM
Sat April 19 * ^ at Kent State 6:00 PM
Sun April 20 * ^ at Kent State 1:00 PM
Tue April 22 Canisius 2:00 PM
Tue April 22 Canisius 4:30 PM
Fri April 25 * ^ Akron 3:00 PM
Sat April 26 * ^ Akron 1:00 PM
Sun April 27 * ^ Akron 1:00 PM
Tue April 29 at Niagara 2:00 PM
Tue April 29 at Niagara 4:30 PM
Fri May 2 * ^ at Ohio 6:00 PM
Sat May 3 * ^ at Ohio 3:00 PM
Sun May 4 * ^ at Ohio 1:00 PM
Fri May 9 * ^ Miami (OH) 3:00 PM
Sat May 10 * ^ Miami (OH) 1:00 PM
Sun May 11 * ^ Miami (OH) 1:00 PM
Tue May 13 St. Bonaventure 12:00 PM
Tue May 13 St. Bonaventure 4:30 PM
Thu May 15 * ^ Bowling Green 3:00 PM
Fri May 16 * ^ Bowling Green 1:00 PM
Sat May 17 * ^ Bowling Green 1:00 PM