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Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Freshman OF Ryan Callahan and the Rockets travel to Western Michigan this weekend.

Toledo Ventures to MAC West Division Foe Western Michigan This Weekend

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Release: 04/25/2013
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KALAMAZOO, MI - Toledo (15-24, 6-9 MAC) looks to continue its solid play as of late when the Midnight Blue & Gold travels to Western Michigan (12-26, 5-10 MAC) this weekend, April 26-28, for an important three-game series. Friday’s game from Robert J. Bobb Stadium at Hyames Field is slated for 3:00 p.m., while Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests will begin at 1:00 p.m.

The Rockets have won three of their last four games behind a strong effort from their pitchers. The staff has posted a miniscule 1.50 ERA during this stretch, giving up 2.0 runs (8) on 6.8 hits (27) with 6.8 punchouts (27). As a unit, the Rockets’ hurlers are limiting the opposition to hit at a .214 clip (27-for-126).

UT has also done more than hold its own offensively over the last week, hitting .271 (36-for-133) on 7.8 runs (31) and 9.0 hits (36). Senior OF Ben Hammer has sparked the recent attack, batting .538 (7-for-13) with eight runs scored, two home runs and eight RBI.

Defensively, the 2012 Mid-American Conference West Division champions have also been nearly perfect, posting a sensational .987 fielding percentage. They have tallied 108 putouts against only two errors.

With its recent success, Toledo has moved up in the MAC West Division rankings and currently sits in a three-way tie for third place with Ball State (17-19, 6-9 MAC) and preseason favorite Central Michigan (17-21, 6-9 MAC) and two games behind Eastern Michigan (19-18, 8-7 MAC). Northern Illinois (16-22, 11-4 MAC) continues to pace the division with a three-game cushion after five weekends of league competition.

UT was picked to finish second in the MAC West Division, while the Broncos were tabbed to place fourth in the preseason coaches poll.

Overall this spring, Toledo is hitting a conference-best .284 (377-for-1,329) with 197 runs (5.1 rpg) scored on 377 hits (9.7 hpg) through the first 39 games (rankings as of April 22).

Individually, junior OF Tyler Grogg is leading the MAC with a .374 (49-for-131) average, followed by senior INF Matt Delewski and Hammer at .344 (56-for-163) and .319 (46-for-144), respectively. Delewski is also pacing the conference in hits (56) and ranks sixth in school history in career hits (224).

The Rockets are tallying a 4.81 ERA on the hill, ninth-best mark in the MAC (rankings as of April 22). Toledo is giving up 5.5 runs (215) on 9.2 hits (359) with 5.8 punchouts (225) per game.

Individually, junior LHP Ryan Wilkinson and senior LHP Kyle Shaw are pacing the team with 2.86 and 3.27 ERAs, eighth- and ninth-best totals in the league, respectively (rankings as of April 22).

Shaw (4-5, 3.27 ERA, 66.0 IP, 57 H, 26 R, 24 ER, 15 BB, 45 K) and junior RHP Cameron Palmer (2-3, 3.61 ERA, 47.1 IP, 42 H, 24 R, 19 ER, 18 BB, 42 K) are slated to start the first two games against the Broncos, while Wilkinson (3-3, 2.86 ERA, 69.1 IP, 70 H, 29 R, 22 ER, 9 BB, 35 K) will draw the start in the series finale. Shaw and Wilkinson have appeared in the weekend rotation each of the first 10 weeks this spring, while Palmer will make his fourth-straight weekend start.

Last weekend vs. CMU, Shaw tossed a three-hit, complete-game shutout en route to earning MAC West Division Pitcher of the Week honors, Palmer threw 8.0 scoreless innings in a win on Sunday in the first game of a twinbill and Wilkinson gave up just two runs in a complete-game effort in the series finale.

The Broncos enters the weekend series in the midst of an eight-game losing skid in the MAC, getting swept the last two weekends against NIU and EMU.

WMU owns a .247 batting average, third-worst in the MAC, and is tallying 3.8 runs (144) on 8.3 hits (314) per game (rankings as of April 22). Andrew Sohn paces the team with a .355 (50-for-141) mark, third-highest total in the MAC, followed closely by Steve Buglione and Theo Piccirilli at .324 (33-for-102) and .320 (47-for-147), respectively.

The Broncos have been a terror on the bases this spring, registering 50 thefts, second-most in the league (rankings as of April 22). Sohn fuels the effort on the bases with a team-high 12 steals.

On the hill, Western Michigan has a 5.34 ERA, second-worst in the conference, and opponents are batting .296 against them (rankings as of April 22). Their pitchers have registered 187 strikeouts while issuing 156 walks.

Last spring, Toledo won two of three games against WMU at Scott Park to capture the series for a fourth-consecutive season. UT was victorious in the series opener and finale, 7-4 and 12-7, and sustained a loss in the middle contest, 6-5.

The Rockets hit a sizzling .364 (40-for-110) and averaged 8.0 runs on 13.3 hits in the weekend set, while the Broncos tallied a .283 (32-for-113) average and totaled 5.7 runs.

Individually, junior INF Wes White batted a team-high .636 (7-for-11), followed closely by junior C James Miglin (7-for-13) and Delewski (6-for-12) with impressive .538 and .500 marks, respectively.

Following this weekend’s action, Toledo will take four days off to focus on spring semester exams before returning to the diamond next weekend, May 3-6, with a three-game series vs. Northern Illinois at Scott Park.

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