Toledo Splits Final Two Games at First Pitch Invitational
GREENVILLE, SC – Toledo closed out its season-opening weekend by splitting two games on Sunday at the First Pitch Invitational at Fluor Field. The Rockets defeated Norfolk State (0-3), 11-3, in today’s opener, before dropping a 13-5 decision against host Furman (2-1). UT now stands at 1-2 on the year.
Senior DH/LF Jacob North (4-for-7, 2 RS, 2 RBI), junior 2B/3B Dan Zuchowski (4-for-7, RS, 3 RBI) and sophomore SS Deion Tansel (4-for-8, 3 RS, RBI) each registered a team-high four hits on the day.
In Game One against the Spartans, the Rockets pounded out a season-high 13 hits and scored multiple runs in four innings against six pitchers to earn their first win of the spring. Senior 2B Zack Michael (2-for-4, 2 RS), sophomore 1B Tyler Baar (2-for-4, 2 RS, 2 RBI), North (2-for-4, RS, 2 RBI), Zuchowski (2-for-5, RS, RBI) and Tansel (2-for-4, 2 RS, RBI) led the attack with two hits each.
On the mound, senior RHP Cameron Palmer was outstanding in claiming the victory, allowing one run (one earned) on four hits with four strikeouts in 5.0 frames.
After spotting Norfolk State one run in the second inning, UT plated two runs in the top of the third to assume a lead it would not relinquish. The Midnight Blue & Gold took advantage of a RBI double by Zuchowski and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Baar to establish a 2-1 lead.
The Rockets then tallied three runs in fifth frame and one in the sixth to stretch the margin to 6-1. UT did all of its damage in the fifth after the first two outs were recorded. The big hit was a two-run triple off the bat of North. They also benefitted from a NSU wild pitch with a runner on third base to score their one run in the fifth and a run-scoring double by Tansel in the sixth to create a five-run cushion.
The teams then traded two markers in the seventh inning to set the score at 8-3. Toledo utilized a two-run single off the bat of senior LF Tyler Grogg (1-for-5, RS, 2 RBI) to account for its runs, while Norfolk State received run-scoring hits by RF Mikey Bruno (1-for-1, RS, RBI) and DH Kyle Vaas (2-for-3, RS, RBI).
Toledo then closed out the scoring with three insurance tallies in the eighth frame to make the final score at 11-3. Baar accounted for the first run with a RBI single to centerfield, before sophomore CF John Martillotta (1-for-3, RS, RBI) was credited with a sacrifice fly to close out the impressive triumph for the 2012 Mid-American Conference West Division champions.
NSU’s RHP Corey Haynes (0-1) was strapped with the loss, yielding three runs (all earned) on four hits with three walks and one strikeout in 4.0 innings.
Vaas was the only Spartan to tally a multi-hit effort against a trio of UT hurlers.
In Game Two against the Paladins, the Rockets were their own worst enemy, committing four errors and issuing eight walks en route to suffering the eight-run loss.
Sophomore RHP Kyle Slack (0-1) was tagged with the setback, giving up four runs (all earned) on five hits with three free passes and three punchouts in 3.1 frames.
Grogg (2-for-5, 2 RS), North (2-for-3, RS), Tansel (2-for-4, RS) and Zuchowski (2-for-2, 2 RBI) paced the offense with multi-hit effort against four Furman pitchers.
Toledo jumped on the scoreboard first in its opening at-bat on a sacrifice fly by senior DH James Miglin (1-for-3, 2 RBI).
Furman then scored the next five runs to take control of today’s invite finale. The home team plated one run in the third inning and four in the fourth to build a 5-1 lead. The Paladins batted around in the fourth frame and took advantage of five hits, two walks and two stolen bases to establish an insurmountable cushion.
UT retaliated with an RBI single off the bat of Miglin in the fifth, before Furman countered with a run of its own on the strength of one walk, one wild pitch and an infield throwing error to put the score in its favor at 6-2.
Toledo stayed aggressive at the plate in the sixth frame and scored three runs to draw themselves within a single tally, 6-5. The big knock in the inning was a two-run single to right field by Zuchowski.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, they were not able to sustain their momentum and allowed Furman to plate two runs in the bottom of the sixth and five in the seventh to make the final score 13-5. The Paladins did all their damage in the seventh frame on only two hits. They benefitted from two walks, one hit-by-pitch, one throwing error, one balk and one passed ball.
Furman RHP Alex Abrams (1-0) was awarded the win, allowing two runs (both earned) on seven hits with two punchouts in 4.1 innings.
The top three hits in the Paladins’ lineup, RF Heath Burton (3-for-6, RS, 2 RBI), SS Hunter Burton (1-for-6, 2 RS) and 1B Greg Harrison (3-for-4, 2 RS, RBI), did a bulk of the damage, combining for seven hits, five runs scored and three RBI.
The Rockets will return to the diamond next weekend when they will venture to Baton Rouge, LA for three games at the LSU Tournament on Friday-Sunday, Feb. 21-23. UT will play Texas Southern on Friday at 1:00 p.m., the host Tigers on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and Virginia Tech on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. at Alex Box Stadium.
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