History was made at Scott Park Friday: Toledo clinched its first Mid-American Conference West Division title with a 5-2 triumph over Eastern Michigan.
With the victory, the Rockets improve to 29-25 overall and 18-8 in the league.Senior right-handed pitcher Matt Kuna (7-1) made today’s achievement possible with a near perfect seven innings of work to earn his team-tying best seventh win of the spring. Kuna allowed only two hits with no walks and five strikeouts to give the Midnight Blue and Gold its first division championship since the MAC switched to divisions at the start of the 1998 campaign. The Griffith, Ind., native stymied the Eagles’ potent offense, retiring the opposition in order on three occasions; the most batters he faced in an inning was five in the third.
Offensively, UT pounded out 10 hits against a pair of talented EMU hurlers. Leading the offense was senior designated hitter Matt Delewski (2 or 4, 2 runs scored, RBI), senior second baseman Joe Corfman (2 for 4, RBI) and sophomore catcher James Miglin (2 for 4, run scored) with two hits each.
The Rockets did the bulk of their damage with four runs in the second inning. The home team collected RBI hits from Delewski and Corfman, as well as run-scoring groundouts off the bats of junior third baseman Wes White and freshman shortstop Nate Langhals to assume a lead they would not relinquish. The first four batters in the frame reached base, and each came around to score.
The division showdown remained the same until the sixth frame when Langhals added an insurance tally with a RBI single up the middle to push the margin to 5-0. Toledo’s effort in the inning was aided by an EMU infield miscue.
The Eagles (24-28, 14-12 MAC) could not get their offense to click until the ninth inning when they received a RBI run-scoring double by Lee Longo and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Daniel Russell to break up the shutout. But in the end, it was too little too late, as UT called upon junior right-handed pitcher Cody Umbright to close out the three-run victory for a second consecutive day.
Eastern Michigan’s Steve Weber (7-4) shouldered the loss, giving up five runs (four earned) on nine hits with four strikeouts in six innings.
The visitors were limited to four hits in the contest, with Longo posting a team high two hits.
The Rockets now will look to complete the weekend sweep in Saturday’s regular-season finale. The opening pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m. from the corner of Parkside Boulevard and Hill Avenue. Junior right-handed pitcher Mike Hamann (2-5, 6.08 ERA, 71.0 innings pitched, 82 hits, 59 runs, 48 earned runs, 29 walks, 52 strikeouts) is expected to draw the start for UT, while EMU will send left-handed pitcher Collin Taylor (2-0, 3.51 ERA, 33.1 innings pitched, 28 hits, 14 runs, 13 earned runs, 19 walks, 35 strikeouts) to the hill.
Prior to the start of the contest, the Rockets will bid farewell to their eight seniors — Corfman, Jeff Cola, A.J. DeMarco, Matt Kuna, Mark Lapikas, Alex Radon, Lincoln Rassi and Tyler Scott. This octet has helped lead Toledo to 113 wins and four consecutive appearances in the MAC Tournament during their time donning the Midnight Blue and Gold.