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Courtesy: Scott Grau
Junior RHP Andrew Marra has not given up an earned run in 9.2 frames against league opponents this spring.

Toledo Wraps Up MAC Cross-Division Play With Weekend Series at Miami

Courtesy: Toledo Athletics
Release: 04/24/2014
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OXFORD, OH - Toledo (16-23, 7-8 MAC) will play its final Mid-American Conference cross-division games this weekend at Miami (18-22, 8-7 MAC) on Friday-Sunday, April 25-27 at McKie Field. Friday’s first pitch is slated for 6:00 p.m., while Saturday’s contest will begin at 3:00 p.m. and Sunday’s finale will start at 1:00 p.m.

The Rockets are currently in third place in the MAC West Division and eighth in the overall league standings, while the RedHawks are tied with Bowling Green (17-19, 8-7 MAC) for fourth in the MAC East Division and tied for sixth overall.

The top eight teams as determined by conference winning percentage (MAC play only), regardless of division, will participate in the post-season, double-elimination tournament, which is slated to start at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, OH on Wednesday, May 21.

UT, which is 10-16 away from home this spring, enter this weekend’s action on the heels of splitting two mid-week games. The Midnight Blue & Gold suffered a 4-2 setback at Michigan State on Tuesday, before rebounding with a 5-4 come-from-behind triumph vs. Dayton on Wednesday.

The Rockets scored four runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Flyers yesterday at Scott Park. The dramatic comeback vs. UD marked the first time this spring that UT has won a game when trailing after seven frames.

Senior OF/DH Jacob North has been the hottest Rocket at the plate as of late, batting .368 (7-for-19) with three runs scored and five RBI over the last six games (April 16-23). North has collected a hit in all but one contest during this stretch, including a clutch two-out, two-run single in the eighth vs. Dayton.

Overall this spring, sophomore INF Deion Tansel leads the team with a .351 (54-for-154) average, 22 runs scored, six doubles, one triple, 13 RBI, 16 walks and nine stolen bases. The only Rocket to start every contest, Tansel sits tied for sixth in the MAC in hits and 10th in batting average (rankings as of April 23). He has hit safely in a squad-best 33 games, including a team-best 19 multi-hit efforts.

On the mound, two-time All-MAC performer senior LHP Ryan Wilkinson (4-3, 2.82 ERA, team-high 70.1 IP, 70 H, 22 R, 22 ER, 17 BB, 42 K) and freshman RHP Sam Shutes (2-2, 4.40 ERA, 45.0 IP, 46 H, 24 R, 22 ER, 18 BB, 33 K) will draw the starts against the RedHawks on Friday and Saturday, while sophomore RHP Kyle Slack (3-4, 5.45 ERA, 38.0 IP, 42 H, 26 R, 23 ER, 18 BB, 26 K) will get the nod in Sunday’s series finale. Wilkinson has made a team-high 10 starts in 2014, tied for second-most in the MAC, while Slack and Shute have made eight and seven starts, respectively. UT will utilize the same starting rotation for a second-consecutive week.

The RedHawks enter this weekend’s cross-division series after sweeping three games versus Eastern Michigan on the road, but most recently dropped back-to-back non-league matchups against Dayton and Eastern Kentucky in extra innings.

Miami is led offensively by the quintet of INF Dan Walsh (56-of-157), INF Steve Sada (37-of-114), OF Gary Russo (48-of-150), C Max Andreson (36-for-114) and INF Chad Sedio (31-of-102) with .357, .325, .320, .316 and .304 averages, respectively. As a team, MU is leading the MAC in triples, as well as ranking second in batting average and third in slugging percentage (.398) and on-base percentage (.364).

On the hill, the RedHawks have a 5.33 ERA, ninth-best mark in the conference, and opponents are batting .278 against them.

Last spring, Toledo lost two of three games against Miami at Mercy Field. UT won the opener, 10-2, but dropped the final two contests in the weekend series, 13-4 and 4-1.

UT hit .229 (22-for-96) in the series and averaged 5.0 runs on 7.3 hits, while MU tallied a .290 (31-for-107) average and 6.3 runs on 10.3 hits.

Individually, senior OF Tyler Grogg (6-for-13) and former OF Ben Hammer (4-for-11) led the Rockets with .462 and .364 averages, respectively.

Following this weekend’s MAC series, Toledo will take four days off to focus on spring semester exams before returning to the diamond next weekend, May 2-4, with a three-game series at MAC West Division frontrunner Central Michigan.

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