BUFFALO, NY – It was a fitting end to the final home game at Amherst Audobon Field in program history for the University at Buffalo baseball team (17-31, 8-13 MAC) on Tuesday afternoon as senior second baseman Brian Dudek connected on a walk-off solo home run to right field in the 10th inning to give UB the 10-9 come-from-behind win over cross-town rival Niagara. The walk-off win for the Bulls was their first of the season and it marked Dudek's first career walk-off home run.
After a great play by Chris Kwitzer at third base ended the top of the 10th inning, the Bulls came to bat with one thing in mind, winning their final home game. After a quick out, Brian Dudek dug in and delivered his biggest hit of his career, a walk-off solo home run that bounced off the top of the wall in right field to give UB the 10-9 win over cross-town rival, Niagara. The big fly for Dudek was his career-high fourth of the season as the Bulls capped their final home game ever at Audobon Field with a dramatic victory.
The Purple Eagles were able to take the early 3-0 lead over the Bulls in the first inning as they connected on just two hits. The Bulls responded in a big way in the bottom of the second inning as they put up seven runs in the inning to take the 7-3 lead. Dudek started the scoring with an RBI single to center field that scored Kyle Brennan from second base. With the bases loaded, Phillip Tomasulo earned an RBI as he was hit by a pitch to allow Dudek to score. Ben Haefner then stepped in and delivered a bases clearing triple to right field, scoring Tomasulo, Alex Thrower and Tyler Utz. Vinny Mallaro then produced the loudest RBI of the inning as he connected on his team-leading eighth home run, deep over the left field fence to score Haefner.
Niagara responded with a run in the top of the third inning before they were able to regain the lead in the fifth inning as they plated five runs to take the 9-7 lead. Niagara only collected two hits in the inning but were able to make UB pay on their errors as all five runs were unearned in the inning.
Buffalo inched closer in the bottom of the sixth inning as Andrew Taft crushed a solo home run to deep left field to make the score 9-8 in favor of the visitors. The home run for Taft was his third of the season.
After a scoreless seventh and eighth innings, the Bulls came to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-8 and they didn't want to close out their final home game with a loss. Eddie Edwards III started the inning with a sharp single to center field before Ben Haefner was hit by a pitch to give UB two runners on with two outs. Mallaro dug in and produced in a big way for the Bulls as he hit a hard single to center field that plated Edwards III from second and tied the game, 9-9.
Dudek was then able to provide the dramatic finish for the Bulls in the 10th inning as he connected on the solo homer to right field as he was met at home with a water and Gatorade shower by his teammates.
Playing in his final home game of his career, Dudek was able to go out on a high note as he finished off his day going 3-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored as he raised his career-best season batting average to .302. Mallaro also had a big day at the plate for the Bulls as he was able to go 2-for-5 with a home run, three RBI and a run scored as he has now notched a team-best eight home runs and 50 RBI on the season. Haefner finished off his afternoon going 1-for-3 with three RBI and a walk while Taft was able to go 1-for-2 with a home run and a RBI in the victory.
The Buffalo bullpen put together a strong outing as they combined to allow just three hits and no runs over the final five innings of the game. Freshman Garett Simmons went 2.0 innings and allowed just one hit while striking out a career-best three batters while Caleb Kish went 1.0 inning of hitless ball while striking out one batter. Ben Vey pitch a scoreless ninth inning for the Bulls while Andrew White collected his second win of the season as he pitched a scoreless 10th inning while striking out two Niagara batters.
The Bulls will return to the diamond on Thursday as they head to Western Michigan for their final MAC series of the season. The Bulls and Broncos will meet at 3:00 pm on Thursday as both teams look to solidify their place in the upcoming MAC Tournament. Junior righty Charlie Sobieraski will pitch for the Bulls on Thursday.