AVON, Ohio—The Bowling Green State University baseball team advanced in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, beating Toledo by a 4-3 margin on Friday afternoon. The win over the Rockets was the fourth in four tries this season for the Orange and Brown. The Falcons (22-28) will play the winner of Toledo and Buffalo on Saturday (May 25) at 12:30 p.m.
Mike Frank threw a complete game for the win at All Pro Freight Stadium, striking out five Rockets on the afternoon. Frank is now third all-time in school history for innings pitched in a single season, with 97.1.
The Falcons were able to overcome an early deficit for the third straight game, as Toledo got two singles in the first inning to jump out to a 1-0 lead. Frank would settle in from there, retiring nine straight Rockets before allowing another hit.
That would allow the Falcons some time to settle in. T.J. Losby would begin the bottom of the fourth with a double to center field. Losby’s hit would slice through the strong wind, which was gusting in from left-to-right. After Losby’s double, he would advance to third on the power of Jesse Rait’s infield single. The next batter, Logan Walker, would hit a ground ball to third. Losby would be caught out between third and home, but as he was chased back to third, the catcher’s return throw would hit him in the back.
With the bases loaded, Jake Thomas would tie the game with an RBI sacrifice fly, scoring Losby. Brandon Howard would follow with a ground ball to short, but Toledo’s second baseman would mishandle the transfer allowing Howard to beat out the potential double play. That would allow Rait to score from third, and would give the Falcons a 2-1 lead after four.
In the sixth, Toledo would retake the lead with three straight, two-out hits. Toledo would get a two-out single and double, and Ben Hammer would follow it up with a bloop-single down the left field line to score both runners.
The Falcons would come right back in the bottom of the sixth, tying the game on an RBI double by Thomas. After two were out in the inning, Logan Walker would reach base on a throwing error by the UT shortstop. Thomas would smack the first pitch over the head of the right fielder, and Walker would come all the way around the bases to score from first.
After holding the Rockets at bay in the seventh and eighth innings, Rait would lead off the bottom of the eighth with an infield single. Walker would sacrifice Rait to second base with a bunt, putting him in scoring position with one out. Thomas would ground out to third, advancing the runner to third base.
Toledo would opt to intentionally walk Howard, putting runners on the corners with two outs. UT skipper Cory Mee would change pitchers after that, replacing LHP Kyle Shaw. Shaw went 7.2 innings, allowing nine hits.
With a right-handed pitcher coming into the game, Danny Schmitz would opt to go to the bench for pinch hitter Matt Pitzulo. Pitzulo would hit the first pitch on the ground to short, but a bobble by the UT shortstop would allow Howard to beat the ball to second and Rait to score.
With a 4-3 lead entering the ninth, the Falcons would send Frank back to the mound to finish the job he had started. With Nick Bruns warming in the bullpen as security, Frank would set Toledo down one-two-three to secure the victory.
The Falcons will play the winner of Toledo and Buffalo on Saturday (May 18) at 12:30 p.m. The Falcons will need just one win to advance to the MAC Championship game. The winner of Toledo and Buffalo will have to beat the Orange and Brown twice on Saturday to advance to the championship game and eliminate the Falcons. If both Bowling Green and Ball State (winner’s bracket, other side) win tomorrow in their first game, the MAC Championship game will be played at 4:00 p.m. If either Bowling Green or Ball State lose one game, the MAC Championship game will be contested on Sunday.