Toledo Travels to Buffalo for MAC Weekend Series
BUFFALO, NY - Toledo (10-16, 3-3 MAC) will look to halt a four-game losing skid when it travels to Buffalo (14-12, 4-2 MAC) this weekend, April 5-7, for an important Mid-American Conference cross-division series. The first pitch in Friday’s opener at Amherst Audubon Field is set for 3:05 p.m. with Saturday’s and Sunday’s matchups beginning at 1:05 p.m.
The Rockets currently sit in third place in the MAC West Division standings, one game behind frontrunners Western Michigan (10-17, 4-2 MAC) and Northern Illinois (9-17, 4-2 MAC). The 2012 MAC West Division champions are also one game ahead of fourth-place Ball State (12-13, 2-4 MAC), Eastern Michigan (12-15, 2-4 MAC) and Central Michigan (11-16, 2-4 MAC) in the log-jammed standings.
Toledo is in the midst of its longest losing drought of the spring, most recently suffering a pair of midweek setbacks to Kent State, 7-5, and Cincinnati, 9-7, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Twelve of UT’s first 26 games in 2013 have been decided by two runs or less, with the Rockets sporting a 3-9 ledger (.250) in those contests.
Offensively, the Rockets are hitting a conference best .290 (258-for-889) with 132 runs (5.1 rpg) scored (rankings as of April 1). Individually, junior OF Tyler Grogg is leading the MAC with a .410 (34-for-83) average, followed by senior INF Matt Delewski at .374 (43-for-115), fourth-best mark in the league. Delewski is also pacing the conference with 43 hits and ranks tied for eighth in school history with 211 career hits.
On the mound, UT is tallying a 5.33 ERA, sixth-best total in the conference. The Midnight Blue & Gold is giving up 5.8 runs on 9.3 hits with 6.0 punchouts per game. As a staff, Toledo’s hurlers are limiting its opponents to hit a .281 average. Individually, junior LHP Ryan Wilkinson is pacing the team with a 3.45 ERA, while senior LHP Kyle Shaw is close behind with a 3.68 ERA.
Tenth-year head coach Cory Mee expects Shaw (3-3, 3.68 ERA, 44.0 IP, 43 H, 20 R, 18 ER, 9 BB, 27 K) and junior RHP Cameron Palmer (1-1, 4.39 ERA, 26.2 IP, 23 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 10 BB, 28 K) to start on Friday and Saturday against the Bulls, while Wilkinson (2-2, 3.45 ERA, 44.1 IP, 51 H, 24 R, 17 ER, 8 BB, 21 K) will draw the start on Sunday in the series finale. Shaw and Wilkinson have appeared in the weekend rotation each of the first seven weeks this spring, while Palmer will make his first weekend start.
The Bulls currently stand as the only MAC team to have a winning overall record this spring. UB won two of three contests at Western Michigan over the weekend before having its midweek doubleheader at St. Bonaventure postponed due to inclement weather. Buffalo owns a .267 batting average and is tallying 5.5 runs on 8.9 hits per game. Jason Kanzler paces the team with a .368 mark.
On the hill, UB has a respectable 3.93 ERA and opponents are batting .264 against them. Their pitchers have tallied 144 strikeouts while issuing 100 walks.
Last spring, Toledo dropped two of three games against Buffalo at Scott Park, losing the series for the first time since since 2006. UT won the middle contest, 3-0, but sustained a pair of losses in the other two games, 5-1 and 6-2. The Rockets hit .219 (21-for-96) and averaged 2.0 runs in the weekend set, while the Bulls tallied a .216 (21-for-97) average and totaled 3.7 runs. Individually, former Rocket Mark Lapikas batted a team-high .455 (5-for-11).
Following this weekend’s action, Toledo will host Dayton in non-conference action on Tuesday, April 9 at 3:05 p.m. at Scott Park.
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