AAABA 2022 | Cleveland holds off Buffalo 8-5 in Pool C opener | Sports
PORTAGE, Pa. — Cleveland manager Jim Savel Sr. admitted he was a little nervous heading into the end of the ninth inning of Monday’s Pool C opener against Buffalo.
With the B2 Bulls leading by three runs, Buffalo got three consecutive runners on board to charge the bases with no outs.
While in the high-pressure situation, Cleveland pitcher Wyatt Fuduric retired the next three batters to seal an 8-5 win for the B2 Bulls to start the 77th AAABA Tournament at Haschak Memorial Field.
“If we made the right pitch, I knew we’d be fine,” Savel said. “I had full confidence in Wyatt. He’s a very talented pitcher and I put him in this high pressure situation. He and the guys played well enough today to deserve this win. We performed well when we needed it.
Fuduric had entered late in the ninth inning after throwing the previous two frames, allowing a solo home run for Jake Hollins, his second of the day.
Buffalo opened the inning with three straight singles on just four pitches to charge the bases. After Fuduric surprised Nick Schulz looking for the first out, Hollins came to the plate.
“I knew I had to step up,” said Fuduric, who is one of only two 18-year-olds on Cleveland’s roster. “I was a bit bloated after they loaded the bases so fast. I didn’t want to come to (Hollins) because my fastball wasn’t where I wanted it to be today. I just did my best to keep my cool.
Heading into the ninth, Hollins was 4-for-4 with two solo homers and an RBI single. After two knee fastballs, Fuduric used a backdoor curveball to bring Hollins down in a fielder’s pick, the out getting the runner at home plate.
Fuduric then knocked out Quinn Mahoney to end the match and earn the save.
“We played a great game today,” Buffalo manager Leo Dandes said. “I loved our approach in the box. It helped us to fight back and make the match come to an end. We have a lot of young guys who played like veterans today. We were just one game away from winning this game. It was so close.
Cleveland built a 6-0 lead after scoring three runs in each of the first and third innings. The B2 Bulls were then held scoreless for the next five frames, as Buffalo cut the deficit to 6-5 heading into ninth. Michael Ferl gave Cleveland much-needed reassurance with a two-run brace that defined the Finals.
“It’s kind of the story of our season,” Ferl said. “We have a big quick start and then we stop. I think if we lock and hit like we know for the whole game, we should be ready. We have a few guys who can hit for some pop.
Five Cleveland batters had multiple hits, with Ferl and Joseph Lehner both recording three RBIs and a run scored. John Anservitz took the win on the mound after allowing four runs (one earned) on five hits while walking four and striking out seven.
Buffalo relievers Ty Johnson and Josh Sheehan combined to throw five scoreless frames and retire four batters.
Cleveland (1-0) takes on Zanesville at Roxbury Park at 1 p.m. Tuesday. Buffalo (0-1) takes on Brooklyn-1 at St. Michael at 1 p.m.
“I preach the energy game a lot, and I think we had a bit more of that that carried us today,” Savel said. “If we can get out there and hit the ball like we did today, plus we have another good pitcher on the mound tomorrow, it should be an exciting day.”