Toledo 12, Buffalo 10
AVON, OH – No. 7 seed Toledo outslugged No. 2 seed Buffalo, 12-10, on Wednesday in the opening round of the 2013 Mid-American Conference Tournament at All Pro Freight Stadium. With the victory, the Rockets improve to 23-31 overall.
UT will now play arch-rival and No. 6 seed Bowling Green (21-28) in the second round of the double-elimination tourney tomorrow at approximately 7:30 p.m. The Falcons defeated No. 3 seed Northern Illinois, 6-4, in 11 innings earlier this afternoon.
The Midnight Blue & Gold plated runs in seven different innings against the Bulls (32-23) and finished with a season-high 17 hits to snap a seven-game postseason losing skid. Toledo’s most recent win in the MAC Tournament was a 7-1 triumph versus Miami in 2010 in Chillicothe.
Sophomore LF Anthony Smith (4-for-5, RS, 2 RBI) led UT’s offensive explosion with a career-tying best four hits. Smith also had four hits against Miami on March 30, 2012.
Junior C James Miglin (3-for-4, season-high 3 RS, 1 RBI), senior 1B Matt Delewski (2-for-6, RS, 2 RBI), junior CF Tyler Grogg (2-for-6, 3 RS, game-high 3 SB) and freshman 2B Deion Tansel (2-for-3, 2 RS, season-high 3 BB) also posted multi-hit efforts in the two-run win. In total, all nine Toledo starters collected at least one hit against a trio of UB hurlers.
Sophomore RHP Adam Tyson (3-2) was credited with the postseason victory, yielding no hits with two punchouts in 1.2 scoreless relief frames. Tyson retired all five batters he faced with the help of a double play in the ninth to record his third win of the spring.
Junior LHP Ryan Wilkinson drew the start on the bump and gave up a season-high eight runs (all earned) on 14 hits with four strikeouts in 5.1 innings. The 2013 first-team All-MAC selection threw 82 pitches on the afternoon and faced 30 batters in a no-decision. Wilkinson’s previous high for runs allowed against a MAC opponent was four (one earned) against Miami on March 31.
Buffalo RHP River McWilliams (3-5) was saddled with the loss, allowing four runs (all earned) on four hits with one strikeout in 2.1 relief frames.
The Bulls jumped on Wilkinson with two runs on three hits in the top of the first. The home team on the scoreboard took advantage of a RBI double by DH Tyler Mautner (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and a sacrifice fly off the bat of C Kyle Figgins (1-for-3, RBI) to assume the early lead.
Toledo quickly cut the deficit in half on a two-out RBI single by freshman 3B John Martillotta (1-for-4, season-high 3 RBI) in the second inning. After the first two outs were recorded, Miglin was credited with a double down the left-field line. The next two batters were hit by a pitch to load the bases and brought Martillotta to the dish. The first-year Rocket delivered in the clutch with a run-scoring single through the left side.
Buffalo retaliated with three runs in the bottom of the second on the strength of a two-run triple by LF Jim Topps (3-for-4, 3 RS, 2 RBI) and a RBI bunt single from 2013 MAC Player of the Year CF Jason Kanzler (2-for-4, 2 RS, HR, 3 RBI) to set the difference at 5-1.
The Midnight Blue & Gold was once again able to respond with four unanswered tallies to draw the teams even at 5-5 midway through the sixth frame.
Toledo benefited from a two-out, two-run home run by senior DH Ben Hammer (1-for-4, RS, HR, 2 RBI) in the third, followed by a pair of run-scoring groundouts off the bat of Delewski in the fourth and sixth, respectively.
UT could not sustain the momentum, though, as UB countered with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to end Wilkinson’s afternoon. The Bulls pounded out three hits off the southpaw pitcher in the at-bat, including a two-run double by 1B Alex Baldock (3-for-5, 1 RS, 2 RBI) to set the score at 8-5.
Toledo did not panic despite giving up the lead and scored three runs in the seventh to once again knot the score at 8-8. The Rockets took advantage of two hits, one Buffalo error and still another hit by pitch in the inning. The trio of Delewski, Smith and Martillotta were each credited with RBI in the frame.
UT continued to put up good at-bats in the top of the eighth and tallied a pair of runs to claim its first lead in the contest. The 2012 MAC West Division champs utilized a RBI single by sophomore SS Nate Langhals (1-for-4, RBI) and a sacrifice fly by Martillotta to set the margin at 10-8.
Like a heavyweight championship fight, Buffalo regrouped with a two-run round tripper by Kanzler to tie the score at 10-10 in the bottom of the eighth inning.
UT fought back one more time and registered two huge runs in the ninth against UB’s second-team All-MAC honoree McWilliams to build a margin it would not surrender. Miglin was credited with the eventual game-winning RBI on a bases loaded sacrifice fly, followed by a run-scoring single off the bat of Smith to send the Toledo bench and its fans into a frenzy.
Topps and Baldock paced Buffalo with three hits each.