Toledo Hammers Arch-Rival Bowling Green in MAC Action, 16-8
The MAC West Division leading Rockets pounded the ball over the field against five BGSU hurlers, registering season highs in runs and hits (19) to take the first two games in the weekend series.
Senior 1B Mark Lapikas (4-for-5, 2 RS, 2 RBI) led the offensive attack with a collegiate-best four hits. Lapikas now has six hits in the first two contests this weekend and has hit safely in a season-best eight straight games.
Other Rockets with multi-hit efforts this afternoon included senior 2B Joe Corfman (3-for-4, 2 RS, RBI), senior CF Ben Hammer (3-for-6, 2 RS, RBI), senior DH Matt Delewski (2-for-4, RS, 3 RBI) and sophomore C James Miglin (2-for-3, 4 RS, RBI). In total, eight of UT's nine starters had a hit in the cross-division matchup.
On the mound, senior RHP Alex Radon (1-5) recorded his first win of the spring in a relief effort. The second of three UT pitchers to toe the rubber in the "Battle of I-75", Radon allowed one run on two hits with two punchouts in 2.2 innings of work.
The Midnight Blue & Gold wasted little time in setting the tone in today's game, scoring five runs in their initial at at-bat. The Rockets batted around and pounded out six hits to post their most runs in an opening frame this season. Their previous best effort was four runs on two occasions. UT took advantage of two-run hits from freshman LF Anthony Smith and junior 3B Wes White, as well as a RBI single off bat of Hammer.
BGSU (19-30, 8-15 MAC) countered with a pair of tallies in the bottom of the first inning to make the score 5-2. The home team collected run-scoring hits from T.J. Losby and Logan Walker to make it a three-run difference. The Falcons' effort was aided by a pair of UT errors and three hits in the frame.
Toledo struck right back though and plated four runs in the second frame to end the afternoon abruptly for BGSU starter Ethan McKenney. The visitors batted around for a second time and benefitted from RBI's by Miglin, Lapikas and Delewski to establish a seven-run cushion, 9-2.
The Rockets continued to pour it on offensively and received a two-run, two-base hit by Delewski and a sacrifice fly off the stick of Lapikas in the third inning to build a double-digit margin, 12-2.
Bowling Green finally settled down and tried to mount a comeback, utilizing a solo home run by Jeremy Shay in the third inning and four additional runs in the fifth to end the afternoon for UT senior RHP Matt Kuna. In the fifth, the home team took advantage of a two-run double by Walker, as well as a RBI single from Andrew Kubuski and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Matt Pitzulo to make the score 12-7.
The Falcons were still not done and benefitted from a RBI double by Jesse Rait in the seventh inning to draw them within four runs, 12-8.
Toledo desperately needed to stop Bowling Green's momentum, and the MAC West Division leaders did just that in the eighth frame, receiving a sacrifice fly from White and a bases loaded hit-by-pitch by Corfman to push the lead to 14-8.
The Rockets then put the finishing touches on the impressive road win with a two-run, pinch-hit double off the bat of junior Tyler Grogg to make the final score 16-8.
BGSU's McKenney (1-9) was tagged with the loss, allowing eight runs (all earned) on eight hits in only 1.0 inning.
Shay (3-for-5, 3 RS, RBI), Brian Bien (2-for-5, RS), Walker (2-for-3, 2 RS, 3 RBI) and Rait (2-for-3, RBI) each had multi-hit efforts for the Falcons in a losing cause.
The Rockets will look to complete the weekend sweep against the Falcons tomorrow in the series finale, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Junior RHP Mike Hamann (2-5, 6.51 ERA, 65.0 IP, 75 H, 58 R, 47 ER, 28 BB, 45 K) is slated for start for UT. Hamann is the only Rocket to appear in the weekend rotation each of the first 12 weeks this spring.
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