MAC West Division Leader Toledo Sweeps Doubleheader vs. Ball State, 3-1 & 10-3
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo retained sole possession of first place in the Mid-American Conference West Division with a doubleheader sweep against Ball State on Sunday at Scott Park. The Rockets prevailed 3-1 in today's opener and 10-3 in the nightcap to improve to 23-21 overall, 12-6 in the league.
UT received outstanding pitching, clutch hitting and timely defense against the Cardinals (11-29, 6-12 MAC) to ultimately sweep the weekend series and claim its ninth conference win in its last 10 games.
In today's opener, senior RHP Matt Kuna (5-1) was outstanding over 6.0 innings to pick up his fifth victory of the spring. Kuna allowed one run on four hits with six strikeouts to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season.
Senior RHP Lincoln Rassi came on in relief and yielded only one hit with three punchouts over the final 3.0 frames to collect his third save of the spring. The Rockets' hard-throwing right hander overpowered BSU to preserve the two-run victory.
Offensively, freshman LF Anthony Smith (2-for-3, RS) was the lone player on either team with a multi-hit effort.
The Cardinals also received a solid starting effort from RHP Chris Marangon (1-5) in a losing effort. Marangon gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits with five strikeouts in a complete-game performance.
The Rockets opened the scoring with one run in the first inning on a sacrifice fly off the bat of sophomore C James Miglin. The wheels were put into motion in the opening frame on the strength of back-to-back singles from freshman RF Dan Zuchowski and senior CF Ben Hammer, before Miglin flew out to center field to bring Zuchowksi home with the game's first run.
UT added to its lead and finished off its scoring the very next frame with a pair of tallies to make the score 3-0. The home team took advantage of a well executed suicide squeeze bunt by freshman SS Nate Langhals and a two-out, BSU infield fielding error that allowed a UT runner to score all the way from second base to establish an insurmountable advantage.
BSU could only must one run in the third inning on a run-scoring single up the middle by Mitch Widau. The visitors pounded out three hits in the at-bat and had runners on first and second base with two outs, but UT's Kuna recorded a strikeout to limit the damage to one run.
UT threatened to extend its lead further in the sixth inning after junior 3B Wes White led off with a double, but the third-year Rocket was left stranded on base to keep the difference at 3-1.
In the seventh, Ball State came within inches of making the division showdown real tight. The visitors had runners on first and second base with two outs when Wes Winkle ripped a ball through the right side of the infield that would have scored one run. Fortunately for UT, senior 2B Joe Corfman dove to his left and robbed Winkle of a hit, ending the inning and preserving the two-run victory.
In today's second game, junior RHP Mike Hamann (2-4) showed the form that made him second-team All-MAC in 2010, surrendering one unearned run on only three hits with five strikeouts in 7.0 innings to collect the triumph. Hamann has now won two of his last three starts, averaging a solid 6.2 frames per outing.
All nine Toledo starters had a hit against a trio of BSU pitchers, including senior DH Matt Delewski (2-for-4, 2 RBI), Zuchowski (2-for-4, 2 RS, 3 RBI), White (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Miglin (2-for-4, RS) and Langhals (2-for-4, 2 RS, RBI) with multi-hit efforts.
UT exploded out of the gates for a second straight contest, registering a pair of tallies in the first frame. The Rockets benefitted from a sacrifice fly by Hammer and a run-scoring single off the bat of Delewski. Toledo's effort was also aided by a BSU infield throwing error on a sacrifice bunt attempt to help the home team build an early cushion.
The Rockets continued to put up good at-bat in the second inning and took advantage of RBI singles by Langhals and Zuchowski to push their margin to 4-0.
Toledo looked poise to extend its margin even further in the third frame, as it had runners on first and second base with no outs. Unfortunately for them, they were victimized by a strikeout and a double play to keep the lead at 4-0.
UT would not be denied in the fourth inning, though, breaking the game open with five runs to stretch its advantage to 9-0 and sending BSU starter Jacob Brewer to the showers. The Rockets sent 10 batters to the plate and pounded out five hits with the aid of two BSU errors to establish a comfortable lead. Zuchowski started the inning with a two-run single up the middle, followed by RBI hits off the bat of Delewski and White.
Toledo then pushed its margin to double figures in the sixth inning on another RBI single by White to make the score 10-0.
BSU finally broke up the shutout in the seventh frame on a RBI double by Blake Beemer. The Cardinals were giving extra life in the inning, as they were aided by a UT infield throwing error and a ball that lost in the sun to tally only their second run all weekend.
Ball State then concluded the scoring in the eighth inning with a pair of runs on a run-scoring single up the middle by Widau to set the final difference at 10-3.
BSU's Jacob Brewer (0-4) suffered the loss, allowing seven runs (four earned) on eight hits with two strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
The Toledo will now take the four days off to focus on spring semester exams before returning to the diamond next weekend, May 4-6, with a three-game series vs. Buffalo.
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