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Bisons use the force in 9-2 victory on Star Wars Night

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- On Star Wars Night, the Bisons played like Jedi Knights against their chivalric foe, the Charlotte Knights. Buffalo's early output with a three-run first and a four-run second powered a 9-2 win from Coca-Cola Field on Saturday night.

The Bisons, donning Star Wars themed jerseys, didn't take long to put runs on the board. After the first inning, the Herd commanded a 3-0 advantage.

Jason Leblebijian was the centerpiece of the early surge, as the Herd offense got going against a hard-throwing Michael Kopec. Leblebijian crushed a two-run, opposite-field home run to add insurance to the opening-inning lead.

"I think starting any game like that definitely helps," Leblebijian said about establishing a rhythm in his hitting. "But at the end of the day, you just kind of stick to your internal goals whatever they are game by game and you just hope that on a daily basis, you can continue it, and repeat it to just be successful."

Roemon Fields and Anthony Alford drew leadoff walks in the Bisons' first turn at-bat and later, both were part of a successful double steal to move into scoring position. Danny Jansen capitalized on the opportunity by sending a ball to left field to plate the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly.

The Bisons exploded for four more runs in the second to garner a comfortable 7-0 lead. Darnell Sweeney and Gift Ngoepe got on base by way of a single and a walk, respectively. Then, Alford and Jansen hit back-to-back doubles. Leblebijian connected for the third consecutive extra-base hit in the inning as he slugged a ground-rule double to add on the finishing touches in the frame.

After just two innings, the Herd knocked Kopech out of the game. Buffalo dealt five hits and seven earned runs worth of damage to the righty, who also surrendered four free passes.

The Bisons increased their lead with a two-run seventh. Jansen worked a walk to lead off the inning and scored when Tim Lopes' grounded into a double play. Then, Sweeney tripled to bring home Leblebijian, who was hit by a pitch earlier in the inning.

Charlotte scored one run in each of the seventh and eighth innings to avoid the shutout, but those runs weren't nearly enough to catch up to the hot-swinging Bisons.

On the hill, Herd southpaw Ryan Borucki benefitted from plenty of run support and was stellar against Charlotte in his 10th start of the season. The 24-year-old pitched six scoreless innings and allowed just four hits and a walk while striking out three batters. Borucki improved to 5-5 on the year in a winning effort and lowered his ERA to 3.14.

"He [Borucki] kept them down and he got a couple of big double play balls when our defense kind of let him down a little bit," Bisons' manager Bobby Meacham said after the game. "That's what you got to do, pick each other up as teammates, and he did a great job of picking the defense up and making those pitches after their mistakes."