Toledo Squares Off Against Miami in MAC Tournament for Third Consecutive Season on Wednesday
AVON, OH - No. 2 seed Toledo (30-25, 19-8 MAC) begins its journey to capture the 2012 Mid-American Conference Tournament crown when it battles No. 7 seed Miami (28-27, 12-15 MAC) in the opening round on Wednesday, May 23 in Avon, OH. The first pitch from All Pro Freight Stadium is slated for approximately 4:00 p.m. The winner will advance to face either No. 3 seed Central Michigan or No. 6 seed Eastern Michigan in the second round of the double-elimination tourney on Thursday at approximately 7:30 p.m.
The 2012 MAC West Division champs will be in search of their first tourney title in school history. Since the MAC Tournament's inception in 1981, UT has appeared in the championship game on two occasions in 1982 and 2009. The winner of the 32nd-annual postseason tourney receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals.
The Rockets will square off against the cross-divisional rival RedHawks in the opening game of the postseason tournament for a third-consecutive season and fourth time overall. UT has won two of the three matchups, claiming a 3-0 victory in 1999 and a 7-1 triumph in 2010. The RedHawks' lone win occurred last spring in the form of a 3-1 victory.
UT has qualified for the MAC Tournament for a school record fourth-consecutive season and eighth time overall. Last spring, the No. 6 seed Rockets suffered back-to-back losses to Miami and No. 2 seed Central Michigan, 9-8, at the VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe. Toledo is 8-13 (.381) all-time in the post-season tourney.
The Midnight Blue & Gold enter the postseason as hot as any team in the league having swept the last two weekends against Bowling Green and Eastern Michigan to claim their first MAC West Division crown in school history. UT posted an impressive .319 (73-for-229) batting average and averaged 8.0 runs on 12.2 hits per contest to sweep the back-to-back weekend series. UT also accumulated an outstanding 2.59 ERA and surrendered 23 runs (17 earned) in the six victories.
Individually, senior INF Joe Corfman batted a team-high .462 (12-for-26) during this stretch, followed closely by senior INF Matt Delewski and senior OF Ben Hammer with impressive .435 (10-for-23) marks.
Overall this spring, Toledo is hitting .270 (ninth in the MAC) with 265 runs (4.8 rpg) scored through the first 55 games. Individually, junior INF Wes White is pacing the squad with a .350 (36-for-103) mark, followed by Corfman and Delewski with .335 (76-for-227) and .311 (52-for-167) averages, respectively.
Corfman recently collected a leadoff double at Ohio State to become UT's all-time hit leader (259 hits), surpassing former teammate Chris Dudics (254, 2008-11) (May 15). The 2010 first-team All-MAC selection is currently tied for fifth in the league (76) and ninth in UT annals in hits in a single season.
On the mound, the Rockets are tallying a respectable 3.92 ERA, the third-best mark in the MAC and their lowest total sinice the 1984 campaign (3.53 ERA). As a staff, UT's hurlers are limiting its opponents to a .275 average, yielding 5.0 runs on 9.5 hits with a league-low 3.4 walks and 6.4 strikeouts per game. Toledo has yielded two runs or less on 13 occasions this spring.
Individually, senior RHP Matt Kuna and sophomore LHP Ryan Wilkinson are pacing the Rockets with miniscule 2.51 and 2.75 ERAs, the third- and fifth-best marks in the league, respectively. Kuna also sits fourth in opponent batting average (.223, 60-for-269).
Toledo Head Coach Cory Mee expects Wilkinson (7-3, 2.75 ERA) to receive the ball against Miami. The Munster, IN native has started 10 games this spring and has worked at least 6.0 innings in four starts. He has accumulated 72.0 innings of work, surrendering 32 runs (22 earned) on 76 hits with 48 strikeouts. Wilkinson currently ranks tied for third in the MAC in wins, tied for fourth in shutouts (1), fifth in ERA and tied for 10th in complete games (1).
Wilkinson saw action out of the bullpen against the RedHawks earlier this spring, allowing only one hit with four punchouts in 5.0 scoreless innings in a 7-6 series-opening victory (March 30).
The RedHawks enter the postseason having won two of their three contests against Ohio this past weekend on the road. They own a .293 batting average and are averaging 5.2 runs on 10.1 hits per game. Four starters are topping the .300 mark, with All-MAC candidate Matt Honchel pacing the offense with a league-best .401 average.
On the hill, Miami has a 4.80 ERA and opponents are batting .293 against them. Their pitchers have tallied 328 strikeouts while issuing 173 walks.
Senior LHP Shawn Marquardt (6-5, 3.76 ERA, 93.1 IP, 92 H, 43 R, 39 ER, 19 BB, 64 K) is slated to receive the starting assignment for Miami tomorrow. Marquardt currently ranks tied for second in the MAC in complete games (4), fourth in innings pitched, eighth in strikeouts, 10th in opponent batting average (.259, 92-for-355) and tied for 10th in wins.
Earlier this spring, Toledo lost two of three games against Miami at McKie Field at Hayden Park on March 30-April 1. UT won the opener, 7-6, but sustained a pair of losses in the final two contests, 5-3 and 11-3. The Rockets hit .255 (27-for-106) and averaged 4.3 runs in the series, while the RedHawks tallied a .350 (36-for-103) average and totaled 7.3 runs.