The RedHawks (33-24) put their best man on the mound for their first game in the MAC Tournament, and Mac Thoreson (6-3) delivered, big time. One day after he was named to the All-MAC First Team, Thoreson went the distance, allowing just one run against Toledo (26-28) in a complete game 3-1 victory in Chillicothe. He struck out six Rockets, while allowing just four hits and walking none.
Advancing to the second round for the first time in two years, Miami will face Western Michigan (26-29) Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The seventh-seeded Broncos defeated Central Michigan (29-26) later Wednesday afternoon by a 9-7 score. Miami was 2-1 against WMU during the regular season (April 15, 16 & 17).
Toledo was first to score, getting a run in the top of the fifth inning via a sac fly after the first two batters reached on a double and single. After that though, Thoreson was lights-out. He allowed only three more Rockets to reach base for the rest of the game (two HBPs and one single). Starting with the sac fly, he retired eight men in a row.
Miami tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth. Designated hitter Kevin Bower started the inning with a walk and then went to second base on a groundout by rightfielder Ryan Curl. He was able to score when a grounder off of shortstop Ryan Kaup's bat was misplayed for a two-base error.
In the very next inning, the 'Hawks went ahead 2-1. Thirdbaseman Brad Gschwind got things started with a double, and then moved to third base on catcher Adam Weisenburger's sac fly. He scored on firstbaseman Kyle Weldon's groundout. Miami added one more run in the seventh inning with a leadoff home run by Bower, his second of the season.
This was no doubt sweet revenge for Thoreson, as he was the losing pitcher last year when the 'Hawks were beaten 7-1 by Toledo in the 2010 tournament's opening round. This was his second complete game of the season, and he remains the only RedHawk to go the distance this year.
Thursday's probable starter is Tyler Melling. Though he walked away with a no-decision in the contest, it was his start against WMU on April 16 that the Broncos came away with a 7-5 win. Melling pitched decently (5 2/3 innings, 3 earned runs, 4 K's and 0 walks), as it was the bullpen that surrendered the late lead. If not for that the 'Hawks would have pulled off a three-game sweep of the Broncos. They did outscore them 22-14, outhitting them by a 32-26 margin, so if they can return to the norm they shouldn't have much trouble advancing to the next round.