Toledo Defeats Western Michigan in MAC Series Opener, 7-4
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo continued its strong play as of late, tallying a 7-4 victory over Western Michigan on Friday in Mid-American Conference action at sunny Scott Park. With the triumph, the Rockets' run their win streak to a season-tying best four consecutive games and improve to 16-18 overall, 5-5 in the league.
UT benefitted from another quality start by sophomore LHP Ryan Wilkinson (4-2) to win its seventh straight contest against the Broncos (15-16, 5-4 MAC), dating back to the 2010 campaign. Wilkinson allowed three runs (two earned) on nine hits with a career-tying best six punchouts in 5.1 innings to earn his squad-best fourth victory of the season.
Senior RHP Lincoln Rassi came on in relief and limited WMU to one run on three hits with four strikeouts over the final 3.2 frames to earn his first save of the spring.
Offensively, freshman SS Nate Langhals (3-for-4, RS, 2 RBI) led a balanced attack with a season-high three hits, while senior DH Matt Delewski (2-for-4, RS, RBI) and junior 3B Wes White (2-for-3, RBI) had two hits each. Eight starters collected hits against a pair of Western Michigan hurlers. UT has now tallied at least 12 hits in each contest during its win streak.
Western Michigan looked good early and took advantage of back-to-back two-out doubles off the bats of Ryan McMillin and Jack Scanlon to take a 2-0 lead in the first frame.
The Broncos threatened to break the game open in the third inning as they had the bases loaded with one only out, but UT's Wilkinson produced an inning-ending double play to keep the difference at 2-0.
Toledo fed off the momentum of that double play and plated three runs in the home half of the third to make the score, 3-2. The home team utilized three hits and three WMU errors to assume a lead they would not relinquish. The trio of senior CF Ben Hammer, sophomore C James Miglin and Delewski were credited with RBI hits in the inning.
UT's Wilkinson allowed a pair of singles to begin the fourth inning, but the southpaw hurler buckled down and fanned the next three hitters to help the Midnight Blue & Gold maintain a one-run cushion.
The Rockets then added to their margin with a pair of tallies in the fourth frame to make the score 5-2. UT plated its first run on a two-base throwing error by WMU pitcher Casey Webber on a failed pickoff attempt, before White ripped a run-scoring through the left side.
WMU was able to get one of the runs back in the top of the fifth inning with the aid of a Toledo infield error. The visitors had runners on second and third base with two outs when Andrew Sohn hit a hard ground ball that third baseman White could not corral and allowed the run to score.
Toledo was quick to counter though, receiving a two-run single up the middle by Langhals in the bottom of the fifth to establish a four-run advantage, 7-3.
The score remained the same until the ninth frame when WMU's McMillin belted a two-out solo home run. Toledo's Rassi did not allow the visitors to get any closer as he recorded the game's final out on a ground ball back to him to preserve the home triumph.
WMU's Webber (2-2) was saddled with the loss, yielding seven runs (four earned) on 11 hits with two strikeouts in 5.0 innings.
Scanlon (3-for-5) paced the visitors with three hits, while Jared Kujawa (2-for-4, 2 RS), Theo Piccirilli (2-for-2) and McMillin (2-for-4, 2 RS, 2 RBI) had multi-hit efforts.
The Rockets and Broncos will continue their three-game series tomorrow with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch at the corner of Parkside Blvd. and Hill Ave. Senior RHP Matt Kuna is slated to toe the rubber for Toledo.
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