UB Baseball gave the best send-off imaginable to Amherst Audubon Field on Tuesday. In their final home game ever as a program, the Bulls’ Brian Dudek sent a walk-off home run to right field to put UB over Niagara 10-9 in extra innings.
The scene was already in a tense spot before Dudek’s game-winner. Niagara had a potential winning run and an insurance run on base at the corners in the top half of the 10th. Luckily for Buffalo, Ben Vey delivered a scoreless inning from the mound after Niagara’s Michael Gabriele grounded out to third base, giving the Bulls another opportunity to bat out one last home win.
Dudek not only drove in the final pitch of the afternoon, but he also ignited the spark for the Bulls’ monster second inning. Dudek singled to center field to score Kyle Brennan as Niagara’s pitcher began to struggle.
With the bases loaded after Tyler Utz was walked and Alex Thrower was hit by a pitch, Brian Haefner tripled to right field, batting in all three on base. Vinny Mallaro capped off the big inning by drilling a two-run homer to left field, giving the Bulls a 7-3 edge over the Purple Eagles.
Niagara had their comeback brew in the 5th inning as they drove in five runs, putting UB’s bullpen in salvage mode so the Bulls could grab two more runs to tie it up. All of UB’s relievers — Garett Simmons, Caleb Kish, Vey, and Andrew White (W, 2-1) — kept the remainder of the game scoreless for Niagara after taking over for starting righty Greg Dunham. The quartet of arms also delivered six of the Bulls’ seven strikeouts.
With the solid pitching, the Bulls were able to get right back into the hunt thanks to an Andrew Taft homer in the 6th and a Vinny Mallaro single to score Eddie Edwards III in the bottom of the 9th.
Although it’s their last ever home game, the Bulls still have three more on the road with an opportunity to book their way into the MAC Tournament.
UB will face off with Western Michigan in a three game series starting on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. If the Bulls can win at least two of the three games, their chances of claiming the eighth and final spot in the tourney look good.