Toledo Blanks Ohio in MAC Cross-Division Series Opener, 3-0
TOLEDO, OH - Toledo recorded a 3-0 shutout victory against Ohio in Friday’s Mid-American Conference series opener at Scott Park. With the blanking, the Rockets improve to 14-21 overall, 6-7 in the league.
The duo of senior LHP Ryan Wilkinson and freshman LHP Steven Calhoun kept the Bobcats (5-29, 1-12 MAC) off-balance for much of the afternoon and allowed only seven hits with nine punchouts to help UT record its third shutout of the spring.
Wilkinson (4-3) was magnificent over the opening 7.0 frames, giving up six hits with two walks and six strikeouts to win his third-straight start. The two-time All-MAC honoree has now logged at least 7.0 innings in seven of 10 starts in 2014. He came into today’s series opener leading the conference in innings pitched per start (7.04). Wilkinson faced the minimum in four frames and five-or-less batters on two other occasions to post his squad-best fourth victory.
Calhoun came on in relief and slammed the door shut on Ohio over the final 2.0 innings, yielding only one hit with three strikeouts to notch his first collegiate save.
Offensively, the Rockets collected only five hits but they made then count in clutch situations to put an end to a mini three-game losing skid. Sophomore SS Deion Tansel (2-for-4, RBI) and freshman LF Jordan Kesson (2-for-3, RS, RBI) did a bulk of the damage at the dish and finished with two hits each.
The contest was scoreless until the sixth with Tansel ripped a one-out RBI double down the left field line to score senior DH Jacob North (1-for-3, RS) with the eventual game-winning run. The second-year Rocket turned on a inside offering from Ohio RHP Jake Roehn (2-6) and snuck a two-base hit just inside the third-base line to collect his 12th RBI on the spring. North started the inning with a double and advanced to third on a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by senior 2B Zack Michael (0-for-2) to bring Tansel to the dish.
The best chance for the Bobcats to score came in the top of the seventh inning when they had runners on second and third base with two outs and 2B Tyler Finkler (0-for-3) at the plate. The younger brother of UT junior OF Cory Finkler struck out on five pitches, though, to halt a possible big offensive frame.
UT then put the game away with two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh. After Ohio’s Roehn easy recorded the first two outs, Toledo sophomore 1B Tyler Baar (0-for-3, RS) came to bat and looked to have grounded out to the left side of the infield. The home plate umpire ruled, though, that Baar was interfered with by Bobcats’ C Nick Bredeson and awarded first base to give Toledo another at-bat. The Rockets made the visitors pay dearly, as Kesson crushed a run-scoring triple to the gap in right-center field to score Baar with the second tally. Moments later, Roehn was charged with a wild pitch and allowed Kesson to score to make the final difference 3-0.
Ohio’s Roehn was the hard-luck loser, surrendering three runs (one earned) on five hits with four strikeouts in a complete-game effort. The right-handed hurler threw just over 100 pitches to tally his second complete game of the spring.
The MAC cross-division foes will continue their three-game series tomorrow with a 1:05 p.m. first pitch from the corner of Hill Ave. and Parkside Blvd. Freshman RHP Sam Shutes is expected to get the ball on the bump for the Rockets.
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