Charleston Catholic baseball tops Buffalo for 5th straight win

BUFFALO — Charleston Catholic and Buffalo were locked in a real dogfight Tuesday, tied at 4 after five innings. Shockingly, an inning later, it was all over.

The Irish piled up 12 runs in the top of the sixth, bunching nine hits with five walks, and turned a tight one into a runaway, earning a 16-6 victory.

It marked the fifth straight win for the Irish (12-3), who hadn’t played in six days.

Catholic got two-run doubles from John Hufford and Thomas Blaydes in its 12-run outburst and a two-RBI single from Dom Martin. In all, the Irish sent 17 batters to the plate an inning after the Bison pulled starter Ian O’Donnell due to his pitch count.

“We were patient there, got some patient at-bats,’’ said Irish coach Bill Mehle. “Their relievers were not effective, not hitting their spots, and we had quality at-bats with some timely hitting. When they laid it in the zone, we were waiting on it and crushed the ball pretty effectively.

“We always say if you can string five quality at-bats together, you’re probably going to generate a big inning. We had 14 out of 17 [quality at-bats] and we strung 12 together, and that’s how we ended up putting 12 runs across in one inning.’’

Buffalo’s relievers walked five in Catholic’s super-sized sixth, including four in a row at one point.

“Obviously, you saw we have a problem with pitching depth,’’ said Buffalo coach Jimmy Tribble. “That’s life in single-A. We don’t have any pitching depth, and we don’t hit the ball.

“This team does not hit with men in scoring position, and Catholic does a good job of that. Their kids do a great job of getting walks, getting them over and the next guy comes up to the plate and says, ‘Hey, it’s my job to pick them up. Maybe it’s my only chance in the game, and I’m going to pick them up.’ We preach it, but our guys don’t have the mental toughness to understand it. They come up and it’s just a plate appearance, not a situational approach to hitting.’’

Hufford and Brendan Lanham led Catholic’s 14-hit attack by each going 3 for 4. Nick Wentz and winning pitcher Brandon Combs added two hits apiece.

For Buffalo (7-9), Hunter Whittington (2 for 4, double) and Brandon Dillman (2 for 3) each had a pair of hits.

The game was tied 2-all after three innings and 4-all after five as O’Donnell and Combs were locked in a mound battle. But when O’Donnell got close to 100 pitches, Tribble had to take him out and Catholic immediately capitalized.

“It was a very tight, competitive game,’’ Mehle said. “We were tentative in the batters box the first four innings and Ian did a great job of keeping us off balance, and they made some fine defensive plays against us, too.’’

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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