Slow starts gave way to better finishes and an overall strong day from UB Softball and Baseball yesterday as the season hits its final stages. The hardballers used seven straight singles in the fifth inning and 12 strikeouts from Brent Cleland on the mound to overwhelm MAC East-leading Kent State 9-3, while on the smaller diamond Softball gave up four early runs in each of their games against Northern Illinois, falling in the first 7-0 but rallying to win the second in extra innings 5-4.
First, Baseball. Happily, the Bulls never trailed in their win, taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Nick Sinay walked and came around to score. Ben Haefner was also thrown out at home in the inning, but the Bulls maintained their lead until the fifth.
Kent State only managed to tie the game for a moment, before UB opened the fifth with seven straight singles. Combined with a pair of stolen bases and a Kent State error, Buffalo managed six runs in the inning, a lead that held to the end even as each team scored a pair more.
UB got solid production from the first seven spots in the lineup, in particular from Bobby Sheppard (3-4, 4 RBI) and Ben Vey (2-3, 2 RBI). The star, though, was pitcher Brent Cleland, who's been pitching in the midweek games but stepped into the weekend rotation in a big way.
Cleland pitched six innings, mitigating four walks and an error by striking out fully 12 Golden Flashes. Kent State advanced to third base in three of Cleland's six frames, but only scored once, when Cleland balked with the bases loaded and no outs, only for the Bulls pitcher to end the inning with three straight strikeouts.
UB continues their series with the Golden Flashes this afternoon.
As the season winds down, the Softball team has shown improvement, especially in doubleheaders and from the pitching circle. Yesterday's beginning didn't bode well, but as the Bulls have done several times in the last month, the second game went markedly better.
In each game Northern Illinois scored four runs early. In the first, Bobbi Langlois was pulled in the second inning, and though Charlotte Miller pitched well in relief, UB managed only three hits - stop me if you've heard this one before - two coming from Alexis Curtiss. NIU scored three further runs in the final two innings, but that's really inconsequential considering the pitching of the Huskies' Keegan Harris.
Langlois was not pulled after allowing four early runs in the second game, in part as all were unearned thanks to two UB errors, and the Bulls managed a pair in the bottom of the first on a Danielle Lallos double. For the rest of the game, Langlois was at her best, allowing only four hits over seven further innings.
UB tied the game on an Alexis Curtiss home run in the fifth, but was unable to score again in the sixth or the seventh, sending the game into extra innings.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">So if any body on the softball team wants to hit a walk off homer this half inning I'd be cool with it</p>— Bull Run (@UBBullRun) <a href="https://twitter.com/UBBullRun/status/594253967544168448">May 1, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Granted, I put that out heading into the bottom of the seventh, not the eighth, but I'm still feeling pretty good about it.
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That's Hayley Barrow leading off the bottom of the eighth with a walk-off, giving UB the 5-4 win. She was 2-4 with a pair of runs on the day. Langlois allowed seven hits, but walked only two; six of NIU's 11 runners came in the first inning.
Softball finishes their season hosting Western Michigan this and tomorrow afternoon.