TOLEDO, OH – Senior designated hitter Vinny Mallaro had a monster game at the plate on Saturday afternoon but it wasn't enough as the University at Buffalo baseball team (10-21, 3-5 MAC) dropped their second straight to the Toledo Rockets in a slugfest, 21-20. Mallaro went 3-for-4 with two home runs, three runs and a program record nine RBI in the loss.
The UB offense had its best outing of the season on Saturday as they produced a season-high 24 hits to go along with 20 runs, their most runs in a game since 2012 when they plated 27 against Long Island. Mallaro led the way with his program record nine RBI as he notched two 3-run homers while Ben Haefner finished off his career day going 5-for-6 with a career-high six RBI and four runs scored. Alex Thrower had his best game of the season at the plate as he went 4-for-6 with four runs scored and a RBI while Connor Regan finished off his day going 3-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI.
The Buffalo offense opened up the afternoon hot as they notched four runs in the opening inning. Alex Thrower, Phillip Tomasulo and Ben Haefner each recorded singles to load the bases before Vinny Mallaro plated two runs with a single to center field. With runners on the corners, Kyle Brennan recorded an RBI groundout to second base before Brian Dudek doubled down the right field line to score Mallaro from second base and give UB the 4-0 lead.
Toledo responded quickly in the bottom of the first inning as they were able to notch three runs of their own to make the score 4-3 in favor of the Bulls. The Rockets were able to gain the 5-4 lead in the bottom half of the second inning as Matt Hansen produced a two RBI single to left field.
UB continued to swing the bats well in the third and fourth innings as they were able to regain the lead, scoring a pair of runs in each inning to make the score 8-5 in favor of the Bulls. UB loaded the bases with no outs in the third before Connor Regan notched a sacrifice fly to score Brennan and Thrower picked up the RBI on a fielder's choice that scored Dudek. In the fourth inning, Tomasulo opened the inning with a single before coming around to score on Haefner's second homer of the season that cleared the right field fence.
The Bulls added five more runs in the top of the fifth inning to make the score 13-5. Brian Wasilewski, Regan and Thrower each singled to load the bases for Haefner who produced a two RBI single to left field before Mallaro connected on a 3-run moonshot of a homer to deep left field, his second homer of the season.
The Rockets didn't allow UB to get too far ahead in the bottom of the fifth as they plated six runs of their own to make the UB lead, 13-11.
Buffalo came back strong in the top of the sixth inning as they plated four more runs to make the score 17-11. Haefner notched his fifth hit of the game, a two RBI single to center field before Mallaro notched a sacrifice fly to deep right field and Chris Kwitzer reached on an error by the Rockets second baseman that allowed Haefner to touch home.
Toledo had their second big inning in a row in the bottom of the sixth as they were able to score seven runs to take the 18-17 lead over the Bulls. The big hit for the Rockets was a deep 3-run homer to right field off the bat of Hansen.
After a scoreless seventh by the Bulls, the Rockets extended their lead to 20-17 as they plated a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
Mallaro took matters into his own hands in the top of the eighth inning as with one big swing of the bat he tied the game, 20-20. The senior connected on his second 3-run homer of the game to tie the game and set a Buffalo program record for RBI in a game, nine.
The Rockets responded in the bottom of the eighth with the would-be game-winning run as Antonio Bennett singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. Riley Campbell then singled to give the Rockets runners on the corners before Hansen plated Bennett on a fielder's choice ground out.
Brennan and Dudek each recorded two hits and an RBI while Tomasulo was strong in the two-hole with two hits and four runs scored. Wasilewski also recorded two hits in the loss for the Bulls.
The Bulls and Rockets will square off in the final game of the three-game series on Sunday at 1:00 pm at Scott Park. Junior righty Brent Cleland will get the start on the mound for UB.