Toledo split a doubleheader against Mid-American Conference West Division rival Western Michigan on Saturday at Scott Park. The Rockets claimed a 1-0 victory in the opener and suffered a 3-0 loss in the nightcap against the Broncos (20-27, 9-14 MAC). With the split, the Rockets’ record moves to 20-29 overall, 10-13 in the league.
The story of today’s twinbill was superb pitching. Both teams received tremendous efforts from their hurlers in a critical battle for third place in the MAC West Division and a berth in the upcoming MAC Tournament. Both of WMU’s starters, LHP Steve Laudicina and RHP Chad Mayle, along with UT LHP Ryan Wilkinson were credited with complete-games efforts. The aforementioned group of pitchers, as well as Toledo freshman RHP Sam Shutes and junior RHP Andre Marra, combined for allow 19 hits in the pair of tightly-contested contests.
Offensively for the Midnight Blue & Gold, senior OF Tyler Grogg (2-for-6, RS) and sophomore 1B Tyler Baar (2-for-7) led the way with two hits each.
In Game One, the Rockets rode the left arm of Wilkinson (6-4) to post the one-run victory. The Munster, IN native yielded only three hits with no walks and a season-best eight strikeouts to earn his squad-best sixth win of the spring. The two-time All-MAC honoree retired the side in order on six occasions and needed only 98 pitches to record his team-high fourth complete game.
The last Rocket to throw a complete-game shutout was Kyle Shaw at Eastern Michigan on May 6, 2013.
Toledo scored the game’s lone run on a RBI single off the bat of sophomore RF Ryan Callahan (1-for-3, RBI) in the sixth inning. With one out in the frame, UT’s Tyler Grogg (2-for-4, RS) singled to left field and advanced to second base after a WMU throwing error to bring Callahan to the plate. The Delta, OH delivered in the clutch with a single through the left side to plate Grogg with the eventual game-winning tally.
The Broncos best chance to score in today’s opener came in the seventh when they had runners on second and third base with only one out. Fortunately for the Rockets, Wilkinson induced a fly out to shallow center field and a ground out to preserve the shutout.
UT’s Grogg was the only player for both teams to post a multi-hit effort in the opener.
WMU’s Laudicina (5-5) was the hard-luck loser despite a masterful effort, giving up one run (one earned) on five hits with two free passes and two punchouts over eight innings.
In Game Two, Western Michigan’s Mayle (5-5) tossed a two-hit gem to even the weekend series at 1-1. The only hits the right-handed hurler surrendered was a leadoff single by sophomore SS Deion Tansel (1-for-4) in the first and a one-out hit off the bat of Baar (1-for-4) in the seventh. He did walk four batters and finished with three punchouts to tally the triumph.
UT’s Shutes (3-4) was solid in a losing effort, yielding three runs (all earned) on nine hits with two walks and one strikeout in 7.0 innings.
The Broncos scored their runs on a RBI double by DH Brandon Cable (3-for-4, RBI) in the fourth and a two-run single from C Brett Sunde (1-for-4, 2 RBI) an inning later to make the difference 3-0.
Toledo’s best opportunity to score occurred in the seventh when it had runners on first and second base with one out and senior C James Miglin (0-for-3) at the dish. The Rockets’ No. 6 hitter was ahead in the count 2-0, but hit into an inning-ending double play to kill the threat.
WMU’s Cable finished with a game-high three hits, while 3B Grant Miller (2-for-4, RS) put together a multi-hit effort in the shutout victory.