No. 2 Seed UT Suffers Gut-Wrenching Loss to No. 3 Seed CMU, 4-3
The Chippewas' (31-28) manufactured the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of William Arnold. CMU's Pat MacKenzie led off the ninth inning with a walk against UT senior RHP Lincoln Rassi, and he was advanced into scoring position on a bunt single by Tyler Hall. Following a well-executed sacrifice bunt to move both runners forward 90 feet, Arnold flew out deep to centerfield to bring MacKenzie home with the eventual winning tally.
A first-team All-MAC selection, Rassi (3-1) was strapped with his first loss of the season, allowing one run on one hit with one walk and one strikeout in 1.1 innings of relief.
Offensively for the Rockets, they were again held in check for the most part against by four CMU hurlers and finished with five hits with no player registering a multi-hit effort. Senior CF Ben Hammer (1-for-4, RS, RBI), junior 3B Wes White (1-for-4, RBI), sophomore C James Miglin (1-for-3, RBI) and freshman RF Dan Zuchowski (1-for-4) totaled the hits for the Midnight Blue & Gold.
UT also received a tremendous pitching performance from senior RHP Matt Kuna in a no-decision. The 2012 first-team All-MAC recipient gave up three runs (all earned) on seven hits with a collegiate-best 10 strikeouts in 7.2 innings, the most punchouts by a Rocket since Mike Hamann also had 10 against Canisius on Feb. 18, 2011.
The Chippewas plated three runs in the first frame to race out to the early lead. The visitors on the scoreboard pounded out three consecutive run-scoring hits from Nate Theunissen, Sam Russell and Arnold to dig the Rockets a sizable deficit for a second straight day. Miami scored a pair of runs in its opening at-bat yesterday en route to claiming a 5-0 triumph.
CMU then threatened to really break the game open in the fifth inning, loading the bases with one two and Russell at the plate. Fortunately for the Rockets, Kuna buckled down and recorded a strikeout to keep it a three-run difference.
Toledo fed off that momentum and tallied a pair of runs on three consecutive two-out hits to chase CMU starter Patrick Kaminska in the bottom of the sixth. Hammer and Miglin were credited with RBI singles to give the Rockets some new life and make the score 3-2. Senior 2B Joe Corfman reached on a critical two-base throwing error by the CMU 3B Erin Wrozek to start the rally. Hammer then commenced the hit parade with his team-best 34th RBI of the spring with a run-scoring hit through the left side, followed by singles from Zuchowski and Miglin to shrink the margin to a single tally.
The 2012 MAC West Division champs knotted the score at 3-3 in the seventh inning with the aid of another Chippewas infield blunder on a RBI single by White. With one out in the frame, freshman LF Anthony Smith reached base on a throwing error by CMU SS Jordan Dean. Smith was then lifted for junior pinch runner Tyler Grogg, who quickly advanced two bases on a passed ball by Central Michigan catcher Arnold. White calmly stepped to the dish and laced a single through the right side to bring the teams even.
Central Michigan looked like it had something brewing in the eighth inning with runners on first and second base with two outs. Following a UT pitching change to bring Rassi into the contest, CMU's Wrozek smashed a line drive that hugged the left-field line. Toledo's Grogg took advantage of a great jump on the ball and made an impressive catch to end the frame.
Toledo was also presented with a golden opportunity to take its first lead of the contest in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with only one out. CMU went to its bullpen and called upon RHP Jon Weaver to get his team out of the jam. Much to the dismay of the Rockets faithful, Weaver delivered with a punchout and a groundout to keep the game tied, setting the stage for Arnold's game-winning sacrifice fly.
Central Michigan's Weaver (2-3) was credited with the victory, working 1.2 scoreless relief innings with three punchouts.
CMU's Theunissen (2-for-3, RS, RBI) was the only player on either team to post a multi-hit effort, helping the Maroon and Gold eliminate the Rockets a second straight year in the postseason.
The contest marked the final collegiate game for UT's eight-member senior class - Jeff Cola, Joe Corfman, A.J. DeMarco, Matt Kuna, Mark Lapikas, Alex Radon, Lincoln Rassi, Tyler Scott - who led the Rockets to 114 wins and a school-record four consecutive appearances in the MAC Tournament.
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