ANN ARBOR — Growing up just down the road from here in Dundee, Jared Locke dreamed of one day standing on the hill while attending baseball games at the University of Michigan's Ray Fisher Stadium.
Wednesday, Locke got his wish, only he was wearing a University of Toledo uniform and was facing the Wolverines.
Other than surrendering Coley Crank's lead-off home run in the second inning, Locke completely overwhelmed UM (9-22). The sophomore right-hander allowed just three hits while striking out three in seven innings, and the Rockets (18-15) prevailed 3-1 for their 11th straight victory.
"I came here as a kid," said Locke, who wasn't recruited by Michigan while at Ida High School. "And now you're playing and pitching on the same field that I used to come to as a kid. It feels great."
Toledo spotted Locke an early advantage with three runs in the second inning.
Designated hitter Mark Lapikas led off the frame with a walk, then promptly stole second. He then moved to third on first baseman Matt Delewski's infield hit and scored on right fielder Jeff Cola's sacrifice fly to center.
Catcher James Miglin plated Delewski with a one-out opposite field flare to right, and second baseman Wes White duplicated the feat on the very next pitch to score third baseman Joe Corfman for a 3-0 lead.
Locke took over from there, matching his career-best outing of seven innings and moving his record to 2-1.
Having played 11 games in the last two weeks, the Rockets needed Locke to pitch deep into the contest and he delivered.
"He gave us a great outing," UT coach Cory Mee said. "You can't say enough about his performance. He really was able to command three pitches for strikes today and he did an outstanding job."
Locke was bolstered by a cheering section of about 30 people in the crowd of 694, many of whom were wearing Ida Bluestreaks apparel.
"A lot of my friends and family and coaches came out to see me," Locke said. "I just went out there and competed. I knew that Michigan has been struggling, and I just wanted to work ahead and make them swing the bats and be aggressive and let my defense do the work."
The Rockets were happy to oblige, and no play was bigger for UT defensively than Springfield graduate and left fielder Tyler Grogg's catch in the eighth inning. With two outs and two runners aboard, Kevin Krantz ripped a liner right at Grogg, who froze on contact before taking a step in and then reaching back over his head to make the catch while falling.
"I think everybody's heart stopped for a second," Mee said, "but Tyler, he timed it perfectly and that's really the toughest ball for an outfielder — a line drive right at you."
Freshman right-hander and Elmwood graduate Adam Tyson closed the door in the ninth, picking up his second save of the season.
Jake Engels (1-1) took the loss for the Wolverines, who were 6-17 in nonconference play before defeating Bowling Green 13-3 here Monday.
Contact Zach Silka at: email@example.com or 419-724-6084
Guidelines: Please keep your comments smart and civil. Don't attack other readers personally, and keep your language decent. Comments that violate these standards, or our privacy statement or visitor's agreement, are subject to being removed and commenters are subject to being banned. To post comments, you must be a registered user on toledoblade.com. To find out more, please visit the FAQ.