Toledo Doubles Up MAC West Division Leader Northern Illinois on "Senior Day" at Home, 6-3
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo secured a 6-3 victory over Northern Illinois on "Senior Day" on Saturday in Mid-American Conference action at sunny Scott Park. With the win, the Rockets improve to 18-26 overall, 9-11 in the league.
The 2012 MAC West Division champions received a quality start from junior RHP Cameron Palmer to even the weekend series against the Huskies (20-25, 14-6 MAC) at one win each. Palmer (3-3) allowed two runs (both earned) on seven hits with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings to collect his third win of the spring.
UT also benefited from solid relief performances from sophomore RHP Andrew Marra and sophomore RHP Adam Tyson to preserve the three-run triumph. Marra came on in relief of Palmer and worked the ensuing 1.1 frames, before giving way to Tyson who recorded the final five outs to earn his second save of the season.
With the Toledo pitchers holding their own against the current MAC West Division frontrunners, the bats came through in a big way against a foursome of NIU hurlers. The quartet of senior CF Ben Hammer (2-for-4, game-high 3 RBI), sophomore SS Nate Langhals (2-for-4), freshman 2B Deion Tansel (2-for-2, RS, RBI) and freshman 3B John Martillotta (2-for-4, RS, RBI) fueled the attack with two hits each. This group combined for eight hits, five RBI and three runs scored.
Northern Illinois LHP Jordan Ruckman (2-7) was charged with the loss, yielding six runs (all earned) on eight hits with two punchouts in 6.0 frames.
Toledo opened the scoring with a two-out, run-scoring bloop single by senior 1B Matt Delewski (1-for-4, RBI) in the bottom of the first.
The Huskies countered with two tallies in the third inning on a RBI single by 1B Jeff Zimmerman (2-for-5, RS, RBI) and a run-scoring groundout off the bat of SS Brian Sisler (0-for-1, RBI). The visitors took advantage of three hits and one walk to assume their first lead of the contest.
NIU’s advantage did not last long though, as UT received a two-run single up the middle by Hammer in the bottom of the third. The first three Rockets in the at-bat reached base and the initial two came around to score on Hammer’s team-high 38th and 39th RBI of the season to give the home squad a lead they would not relinquish.
UT added to its lead on the strength of a two-out RBI single up the middle by Martillotta to build a two-run cushion, 4-2, in the fourth inning.
The score stayed the same until the bottom of the seventh when Toledo plated a pair of insurance tallies to end the afternoon for NIU’s Ruckman. The Rockets received a sacrifice fly off the bat of Tansel and a RBI single by Hammer to make the score 6-2.
The damage could have been greater for Toledo in the seventh, but Hammer was cut down at the plate as he tried to score from third base on a fly ball. Unfortunately for Hammer, NIU C Nate Ruzich corralled a throw from CF Jamison Wells and successfully blocked the plate to tag out Hammer and complete the double play.
Northern Illinois tried to mount a comeback in the late innings, utilizing a RBI single by DH Joe Battaglia (1-for-4, RBI) in the eighth, but the Cardinal & Black would not get any closer.
NIU was led offensively by RF Micah McCulloch (3-for-5, RS) with a game-high three hits. McCulloch and the Huskies had trouble collecting clutch hits though, as they left 12 runners stranded on base.
Toledo and Northern Illinois will wrap up their three-game series tomorrow with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch. Junior LHP Ryan Wilkinson is slated to start for the Rockets on the mound in the home finale.
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