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Rockets sweep Buffalo for ninth straight win

By Zach Davis
On April 11, 2011

Toledo ran its record above .500 for the first time this season with a 9-5 win over Buffalo yesterday. The victory extended the Rockets winning streak to nine games with a three-game sweep over Buffalo this weekend and gave UT an 8-0 home record on the year.

Toledo (16-15, 7-2 Mid-American Conference) started the season 7-15 but have won all nine games since the home opener on March 30 at Scott Park, the most consecutive victories during Head Coach Cory Mee's eight-year career.

"Once you get in conference play sweeps are huge," junior designated hitter Mark Lapikas said. "We are playing really well as a team right now. A lot of people are stepping up. It's pretty exciting and it's given us something to play for everyday."

The Rockets trailed 5-3 in the seventh inning but scored six runs in the bottom of the inning to grab the 9-5 victory over the Bulls (7-21, 0-9 MAC).

"I really like the way we competed today," Mee said. "We knew it was going to be a tough game. We came out and really got some clutch hits at the end."

Lapikas' two-run homer tied the game at five before pinch hitter Andy Mix drove home the winning run two batters later.

"That was a big [home run] to tie the game and the important thing was we tacked on a couple right after that to put us in front," Mee said. "Andy Mix came up with a really clutch pinch-hit double. I really like the way we competed and we are really starting to execute when it matters. That's something we didn't do in the beginning of the year and we are starting to do now as well as scoring some more runs."

"We knew we were better than Buffalo so we had to just keep plugging away and keep hitting the ball hard," Lapikas said. "If it's not going your way then it will. Eventually good things will happen like today."

Lapikas (2 for 4, 1 R, 4 RBI) lead the way at the plate driving in four runs. Sophomore outfielder Tyler Grogg (2 for 5, 2 R) scored twice and posted a multi-hit performance along with juniors Ben Hammer (2 for 5, 1 R) and Matt Delewski (2 for 4, 1 R).

Junior starter Lincoln Rassi (1-4) allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits in five innings of work. He gave up just one run over the first four innings before Buffalo tagged him for four in his next inning on the mound.

"Lincoln threw really well and gave us what we needed," Mee said. "He pitched into the sixth for us and our bullpen had everyone available today. He did exactly what we needed him to do. If he can continue to do that I really like our chances in the games he is pitching."

The bullpen threw four scoreless innings after Rassi's departure. Freshman Cameron Palmer struck out two in one frame. Classmate Tyson Adams (2-2) earned the win pitching two scoreless innings before senior Matt Zahel sealed the game with a perfect ninth.

"We got very good pitching today again," Mee said. "Our team has a lot of confidence in the guys we bring out of the bullpen. They are pitching very well and I think it gives us a little edge over our opponent when the guys coming into the game are just as good as the guys we have starting. We really need that to continue."

The Rockets look to extend their winning streak to 10 games when they host Division II Lake Erie College (14-12) on Tuesday at 3 p.m. before traveling to Ann Arbor to face Michigan (8-21) on Wednesday at 6 p.m.

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