Toledo Hammers Ball State in MAC Series Opener, 12-4
TOLEDO, OH – Toledo pounded out a season-high eight extra base hits and cruised to a 12-4 victory against Ball State in Friday’s Mid-American Conference series opener at Scott Park. With the win, the Rockets improve to 13-18 overall, 5-5 in the league.
UT posted a season-best five doubles and a season-high three home runs against a quartet of BSU (22-12, 7-2 MAC) hurlers to snap a mini-three-game losing skid.
The Midnight Blue & Gold finished with a season-tying best 14 hits and had an impressive six players post multi-hit efforts in the series-opening matchup. In total, every UT starter reached base and seven players scored a run. Toledo also posted 14 hits against The Citadel on March 5 during its Spring Break trip.
Junior 3B Dan Zuchowski (3-of-4, 3 RS, 4 RBI) led the offensive barrage with a game-high three hits, while senior DH Jacob North (2-of-3, RS, RBI), senior CF Tyler Grogg (2-for-5, 2 RS), sophomore 1B Tyler Baar (2-of-5, 2 RS, 3 RBI), sophomore RF Ryan Callahan (2-for-5, 2 RS, 2 RBI) and sophomore SS Deion Tansel (2-for-3, RS) totaled two hits each.
The duo of Zuchowski and Baar spearheaded the extra-base onslaught with one round tripper and one two-base hit each.
On the mound, senior LHP Ryan Wilkinson (3-3) was effective over the opening 7.0 frames, allowing four runs (all earned) on 10 hits with two punchouts to win his second straight start.
Junior RHP Andrew Marra came on in relief of Wilkinson and finished off the eight-run triumph, allowing only three hits with one strikeout in 2.0 scoreless innings.
The Rockets came out firing on all cylinders and scored three runs off reigning MAC Pitcher of the Year Scott Baker (5-3) in their opening at-bat. UT took advantage of back-to-back RBI doubles by Zuchowski and Callahan, as well as a run-scoring single off the bat by senior C James Miglin (1-for-5, RBI) to assume a lead it would not relinquish.
BSU threatened in both the first and second innings and put multiple runners on base, but each time UT’s Wilkinson induced an inning-ending double play to keep the visitors scoreless.
UT then blew the game open with four tallies in the third to stretch its margin to 7-0. The Rockets received a RBI single from Callahan and a two-run double by Baar to end the afternoon for BSU’s Baker. The Cardinals’ ace experienced his shortest outing of the spring, giving up seven runs (six earned) on nine hits in only 2.1 frames. He came into today’s series opener seventh in the MAC in innings pitched, averaging 5.41 frames per start.
BSU eventually broke up the shutout on a two-run pinch hit triple by 1B T.J. Weir (1-for-3, 2 RBI) in the fourth and a two-run home run off the bat of CF Sean Godfrey (2-for-5, 2 RS, 2 RBI) in the fifth, but it was too little too late.
The Rockets countered with a solo round tripper by Baar in the fifth, a two-run blast from Zuchowski in the sixth and another solo shot by North in the seventh to set the difference at 12-4.
Despite scoring only four runs, Ball State totaled 13 hits and was paced by RF Alex Call (2-for-4), C Jarrett Rindfleish (2-for-5, RS), 3B Sean Kennedy (2-for-5), SS Alex Maloney (2-for-4) and Godfrey with two hits each.
The division rivals will continue their three-game series tomorrow with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch from the corner of Hill Avenue and Parkside Boulevard. Freshman RHP Sam Shutes is slated to start of the mound for the Rockets.
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