TOLEDO, Ohio – The University of Akron (12-10, 5-0 MAC) baseball team opened the weekend with a doubleheader sweep of Mid-American Conference opponent University of Toledo (8-14, 1-4 MAC) on Friday at Mercy Field to open the three-game set. The Zips are now riding a five-game win streak to open league play.
"A very good day as a team sweeping the doubleheader," Head coach Rick Rembielak said. "We had two solid outings from our starters and our bullpen was excellent. We came back in the ninth in game one and twice in game two, which is a good sign we didn't give up mentally."
Sophomore John Valek III started game one for the Zips, and turned in 6.1 innings with two runs allowed, eight hits, and two walks. Valek earned a no-decision in the victory.
Akron trailed Toledo 1-0 after the first on an RBI single to left by Ryan Callahan. Both teams traded scoreless frames in the second and third, before juniors Matt Rembielak and Matt LaRocca ripped back-to-back doubles to knot the game at 1-1.
Callahan struck yet again in the sixth with a solo home run to give the Rockets a 2-1 lead, which would go on to be the final Toledo run of the first game. Freshman reliever Masashi Sakamoto took over on the mound in the seventh with one out, working 2.2 innings pitched with one strikeout and one hit allowed.
Toledo threatened to score again in the seventh with one out and a runner on second base. Toledo's Zack Michael attempted to score from third on a fly out to Akron left fielder Kris Simonton, but Michael was gunned down at home to complete the double play and keep the game at the 2-1 score.
Down to their final three outs, Akron plated two runs in the top of the ninth to complete the come-from-behind victory. Joey Havrilak had an RBI single up the middle, and then Sheltrown was able to score on a wild pitch to give Akron the lead, 3-2, in the following at-bat.
Sakamoto worked a scoreless ninth to finish off the game, and improve his record to 2-0 overall this season. The Dublin, Ohio native has allowed just one earned run in 16.0 innings, giving him a .056 ERA.
Offensively, Akron posted a total of 11 hits led by Havrilak, LaRocca and Sheltrown with two apiece. Havrilak and Devan Ahart each registered a stolen base in the game one win.
Sophomore JT Brubaker made the start on the mound for game two, and tossed 5.2 innings with five runs allowed – four earned – to go along with three strikeouts. Brubaker's record improved to 2-1 with the victory.
Both Akron and Toledo notched a run scored in the first to tie the game at 1-1 through six outs, but Toledo held UA scoreless in the second which allowed them to take a 3-1 lead with two runs in the second.
The Zips fought back for a pair of runs to tie the game back up in the third inning at 3-3. Ahart singled through the right side, with Brady Stewart driving in Havrilak on an RBI groundout.
Toledo registered their second consecutive two-run inning with two more in the third to make it 5-3, before Akron took control of the game in the top of the fourth.
Havrilak came up with the bases loaded, and belted a grand slam to give Akron a 7-5 lead. Toledo cut the deficit to one in the eighth, which brought the game to its final score of 7-6.
"Joey Havrilak had the best day for us offensively with five hits and the biggest hit of the day, his grand slam when we were down two runs," Rembielak said.
Redshirt freshman Evan Jensen relieved Brubaker on the mound, throwing 2.2 innings with one unearned run allowed and one walk. Sophomore Zach Beaver worked a 1-2-3 ninth to secure the victory, and record his first save of the season.
Overall in game two, UA totaled nine base knocks, two walks and seven RBI. Havrilak, a Washington, Pa., native, finished the contest with three hits, two runs, four RBI, one homer and one double. Simonton went 2-for-5 out of the leadoff spot with three runs scored and a double. Ahart recorded two RBI and one base hit, while Stewart ended with one hit and one RBI.
Akron and Toledo will wrap up the weekend series with one game at Mercy Field Saturday at 1 p.m. Redshirt junior Myles McVeigh will be on the mound for Akron, following a spectacular nine strikeout, one hit start against EMU last weekend. McVeigh was named MAC East Pitcher of the Week for his performance.