By: Brian Frank
The Bisons turned a triple play on Friday night in their 4-1 victory over the Saint Paul Saints. The play occurred with Buffalo leading Saint Paul 3-1 in the top of the seventh inning. Yosver Zulueta gave up a leadoff walk to Mark Contreras and then surrendered a single to Tony Wolters to put runners at first and second. Both runners then took off on a 3-and-2 pitch to Elliot Soto. Soto hit a line drive towards left field that shortstop Otto López made a terrific leaping catch on for the first out. López then fired to second baseman Davis Schneider, who stepped on second base to force out Contreras and then tagged Wolters, the runner from first who was standing on second base, to complete the triple play.
“Before that play, I had a line drive hit to me that I was kind of in between on whether to dive or not,” López said. “I got prepared and thought the next play, I’ve got to be a little more ready for what’s coming. Then it just happened – the runners took off, he hit the hard line drive to me, and I jumped high enough to catch it.”
Schneider took it from there and completed the historic play.
“They were running on the pitch and Otto made a nice play,” Schneider said.” He really got up and got it. Then he threw it to me and I knew to tag him and tag second and that was it. Everyone was yelling to throw to first base, but I kind of knew I didn’t have to. So, I didn’t throw it, because I knew there were already three outs.”
The second base umpire called both runners out, but did not make a demonstrative signal for the third out, causing some brief confusion.
“It was funny because I couldn’t see the umpire at second calling the guy out from first,” Bisons manager Casey Candaele said. “He didn’t point at him and call him out. So I was going crazy in here telling him to throw the ball to first and he just kept holding onto it.”
“It all just happened so fast,” Schneider said. “Like oh my gosh, that’s three outs. It was all just bang, bang.”
It was the first triple play turned by Buffalo since May 27, 2016 at Toledo, when third baseman David Adams started an around the horn 5-5-4-3 triple play, by touching third, firing to Andy Burns at second, who relayed to Matt Dominguez at first. It was also the first triple play at Sahlen Field since Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. grounded into a 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play against the New York Yankees on June 17, 2021.
It was just the third triple play the Bisons have turned at Sahlen Field. The first was in 1997 against Nashville, when third baseman Jeff Manto fielded a ground ball, touched third, fired to second baseman Torey Lovullo at second, who threw to Richie Sexson at first for the third out. The other came in 2009 against Rochester, when shortstop Argenis Reyes made a diving catch on a line drive and threw to second baseman Luis Rivera, who relayed to Mike Lamb at first.
“It’s a game changer, that’s for sure,” Candaele said of the newest play added to the Bisons record book. “It really changed the momentum.”
The Bisons added another run in their half of the seventh and went on to win 4-1.
“When it was hit, I didn’t know if Otto was going to catch it,” Candaele said of the play. “It was a line drive and they were running, so I first thought – okay, it’s going to be three to two, runners on first and third, no outs. We’re going to have to battle out of this one. Then he caught it and it was like – oh my gosh, triple play.”
The Bisons skipper added with a chuckle, “My emotions went from devastated to really elated.”