TOLEDO, OH - Toledo remained undefeated at Scott Park with a doubleheader sweep against Mid-American Conference West Division foe Western Michigan on Saturday. The Rockets prevailed 9-2 in today's opener and 3-2 in 10 innings in the nightcap to improve to 12-0 at the corner of Parkside Blvd. and Hill Ave. this spring.
UT (23-20, 12-6 MAC) received outstanding pitching, clutch hitting and timely defense against the Broncos (18-24, 7-11 MAC) to ultimately sweep the weekend series for the second-consecutive season.
In today's first matchup, the Rockets scored the final eight runs to post nine runs on the scoreboard for the second time in as many days.
Seven of Toledo's nine starters had a hit against a trio of WMU pitchers, including junior INF Joe Corfman (2-for-4, 3 RS, HR, 3 RBI), sophomore INF Wes White (2-for-4, RS, 2 RBI), junior OF Ben Hammer (2-for-3, RS, 2 RBI) and sophomore OF Andy Mix (2-for-4, RS) with multi-hit efforts.
One the mound, freshman LHP Ryan Wilkinson (4-1) was credited with the win. The southpaw pitcher was one of three UT hurlers to toe the rubber, working 1.2 scoreless relief innings to record his fourth win of the season.
Junior RHP Alex Radon came on in relief of Wilkinson and finished off the first-game victory with 1.2 flawless frames to collect his first collegiate save.
The Midnight Blue & Gold also received a quality start from junior RHP Lincoln Rassi, allowing two runs (one earned) on eight hits with a pair of punchouts in 5.2 innings.
Western Michigan tallied its first run of the weekend in the second frame on a RBI single off the bat of Troy Forton. The visitors' effort was aided in the frame by a two-base throwing error by UT's Rassi on a failed pickoff attempt at first base with two outs.
UT quickly countered with a two-out single by White to knot the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the second frame.
After the Broncos plated a run in the third, UT began its offensive onslaught with a single tally on the sacrifice fly by junior INF Matt Delewski to even the score at 2-2 in the fifth inning.
Toledo then captured the lead for good in the sixth frame on the strength of a run-scoring groundout by senior C Jim Vahalik and a four-pitch, bases loaded walk from Hammer to make the difference 4-2.
The Rockets continued to put up good at-bats down the stretch, utilizing a safety squeeze bunt from White in the seventh inning to extend their cushion to three runs.
The Broncos threatened in the eighth frame and had runners on the corners with one out, but UT's Radon induced a double play to halt the potential big inning.
Toledo then put the opener away with four insurance tallies in the bottom of the eighth frame. The big hit in the inning was a three-run home run by Corfman, his first round tripper of the season.
WMU's Casey Webber (3-4) was saddled with the loss, yielding four runs (one earned) on six hits in 5.1 innings.
In today's second game, UT's Hammer singled down the left field line with the bases loaded in the 10th frame to drive in the game-winning run.
Vahalik drew a one out in the first extra frame to get the game-deciding inning started. Senior INF Chris Dudics followed with a single up the middle to put runners at the corners. Sophomore OF Tyler Grogg was then intentionally walk to load the bases and setup a force out at any base, but Hammer lined a single down the left field to bring Vahalik home with the winning run, sending the UT bench into a frenzy.
Senior RHP Matt Zahel (1-2) claimed the triumph in relief, yielding only one hit with four strikeouts in a season-high 3.0 innings.
Sophomore RHP Jared Locke was solid in his second-consecutive weekend start in place of injured sophomore RHP Mike Hamann, surrendering only one unearned run on three hits with two punchouts in 6.1 frames.
Toledo's trio of hurlers held the Broncos to six hits in the finale, including only one extra-base hit.
Dudics (3-for-5, RS) and Hammer (2-for-4, RBI) fueled the UT offense with at least two hits each.
The nightcap was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when Toledo took advantage of a run-scoring groundout by Delewski and a RBI single from Corfman to assume a 2-0 lead.
The Broncos finally solved Locke in the sixth frame, slicing the deficit in half on a Forton fielders choice.
WMU then tied the score at 2-2 in the eighth inning on a wild pitch by Toledo's Zahel with a runner on third base.
The Rockets came within inches of retaking the lead in the bottom of the eighth frame. With UT's Dudics on first base, Hammer laid down a perfect bunt and WMU pitcher Forton's throw to first base sailed high. Dudics tried to circle the bases and score all the way from first, but a perfect relay throw from right field cut him down at the plate.
UT had another chance to win the game in the ninth with a runner on third base and two outs, but WMU reliever Eric Heckaman recorded a strikeout to send the series finale into extra innings.
Heckaman (2-3) suffered the loss, allowing the game-winning run on two hits in 0.2 inning.
The Rockets will now take the next five days off to focus on final exams before returning to action next weekend, May 6-8, at MAC West Division preseason favorite Central Michigan.
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