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Buffalo Bulls Open Up Baseball Season With A Trio against Davidson, Air Force, and Marist

It's time to play ball this weekend for the Buffalo Bulls.  UB Opens up the season with a three game tournament at Davidson college in North Carolina.

Year Name Rnd Team
2015 Nick Sinay 22 Blue Jays
2014 Tyler Mautner 14 Twins
2014 Mike Burke 30 Orioles
2013 Jason Kanzler 20 Twins
2012 Tom Murphy 3 Rockies

The Bulls took a big step back last season, after several seasons of improvement in the MAC. They finished under 500 for the first time since 2012 and placed last in the Mid American Conference, missing the tournament for the first time since 2011.

The website has UB finishing last in the MAC. UB's recent relevance in the conference centered around a core group of Talent that has mostly moved on. Every year since 2012 at least one Bull has been drafted and in 2014 two Bulls were drafted. With the exception of Mike Burke none of the players who left UB was a senior.

On the plus side this may be the deepest set of underclassmen that UB has had in some years. Losing Sinay, the school record holder for stolen bases, was difficult but now a lot of the guys UB is building on should be here this season and one or two more.

So who's going to lead the team this season?

Ben Haefner turned into a key starter for the Bulls at second base  despite being a freshman. He appeared in 38 games and finished second on the team in batting average (.302) while notching 35 hits he also ranked third on the team with six doubles and third on the team in RBI's with 20.

On the mound UB may go with Brent Cleland to lead off their pitching rotation. Last season he moved into the role of weekend starter (conference games) where he made 11 starts for the Bulls while earning a 3-7 record to go along with a 4.79 ERA in a team-high 67.2 innings pitched.

Air Force: Friday at 2:00 pm

Air force features a couple of very strong Pitchers. In this seasons Mountain West Projections Falcon's pitchers Jacob DeVries and Trent Monaghan were touted as top pitchers in the conference. Monaghan, a senior lefthander, was projected as the MW Pitcher of the Year and DeVries is projected as the top prospect from the conference for the 2016 MLB Draft.

Monaghan is coming a junior season where he posted a 2.75 ERA in 84.2 innings pitched. His ERA was the seventh-lowest in a season at Air Force and ranked second in the conference. DeVries ranked second in the MW with 80 strikeouts in 84.2 innings pitched last season. The junior lefthander held opponents to a .236 average, ranking fifth in the conference.

People are projecting Air Force to finish fifth out of seven teams.

Davidson: Saturday at 4:30 pm

Last year, in their inaugural A-10 seasons, Davidson baseball finished fourth. This season the Davidson baseball team was picked to finish sixth in the 2016 Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll.

Davidson returns five starters from last year's team that finished 28-22 overall and 14-10 in the conference. It also welcomes 14 newcomers to the squad.

Marist: Sunday at 10:00 am

The Marist Red Foxes are led by senior Graham McIntire who is a Preseason All-Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player. Behind McIntire the Red Foxes have picked to finish 5th in the MAAC preseason poll, with one first place vote, as decided by the conference's head coaches.

Last season McIntire hit .292 with a team-high 39 runs scored and 24 runs batted in. McIntire also had a team-high 16 doubles en route to a Second Team All-MAAC selection. He has been named to the MAAC All-Academic Team the last two seasons.

This weekend is a good barometer for hos the team will do this season. Their opponents are almost all middle of the pack Mid Major programs. If UB can take two games it bodes well for hitting MAC play with a decent record.

While the East Coast has been getting pounded by snow the Charlotte area, not far from Davidson, has little or no snow cover. The weather in the are is supposed to be dry and in the upper 50's for the rest of the week. It should be ok for baseball.