Kent State Baseball Blasts Bowling Green In Series Finale
Golden Flashes and Falcons combined for 51 runs on 45 hits.
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – After dropping its first Mid-American Conference series of the season with a 9-6 loss a day earlier, the Kent State baseball team was determined to finish the series strong and make a statement.
Boy, did it ever.
At some point after the opening pitch Sunday (April 15), a football game erupted on the baseball diamond of Steller Field, and, 487 pitches later, Kent State romped to a 31-20 victory over Bowling Green.
To put the final score in some perspective, the Kent State football team battled Bowling Green on Oct. 29, 2011, at Dix Stadium, with Kent State coming out on top, 27-15.
With the winds blowing out at 25 miles per hour, the conditions were right for a barrage of runs as the two teams combined for 51 of them. Kent State's 31 runs were the most in a single game since tallying 28 at Ohio on April 25, 2009. Twelve of those runs in Sunday's game at Bowling Green came with two outs. The Flashes collected 25 hits, marking its highest output in a single game since that same contest at Ohio.
"Our hitters were great today," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We talked with the team before the game about how, with the way the conditions were, it was going to be an offensive kind of game. We scored 10 runs in the first inning, and someone in the dugout said, 'Let's score 30 today.' You would have never thought it would happen, though."
The Golden Flashes (20-15, 10-2 MAC) put a halt to a two-game losing skid after falling to the Falcons (14-21, 4-8 MAC) in the first two games of the three-game weekend set. Kent State has won 12 of its last 16 games and maintained its grip on first place in the MAC East Division with Sunday's triumph.
"We needed to end the weekend on a positive note, and we certainly did that," said Stricklin. "It's big for momentum. We didn't like losing the series, but we moved on and won on Sunday, and we're still first place.
Seven Kent State players finished with multi-hit games, led by four apiece by junior designated hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) and junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.). Bagoly finished with two doubles, his third home run of 2012 and a single while Roberts collected four singles. Bagoly's seven RBIs were the most in a game for the Flashes since Anthony Gallas piled up seven at Akron on May 21, 2010. Sophomore right fielder T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) hit his second career home run and added a double and a single, all while piling up a career-high six RBIs. Freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) smashed the first two homers of his collegiate career. Senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) crushed his fourth home run of the season and added a single. Junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) chipped in a triple and a double.
"Our guys came in with a little bit of a chip on their shoulders," said Stricklin. "We weren't happy about losing the first two games of the series, two games that we had control of. Our hitters came in with a purpose today. We had more quality at-bats in one game than I've ever seen.
The Flashes set the tone for the contest's frenetic offensive pace with a 10-run first inning. The last time Kent State totaled at least 10 runs in a single frame was against Findlay on April 22, 2003. Campbell opened the game with a double to center. Rider followed by reaching on an error, advancing Campbell to third. Lyon drove in the first of a combined 51 runs between the two teams with a single to left to drive in Campbell. Rider and Lyon each advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch. Roberts plated Rider with an infield single to short. Bagoly followed with a base hit to left. Sutton brought home Lyon and Roberts. Polen served up a sacrifice fly to center to allow Bagoly to tag up and score. Redshirt sophomore left fielder Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio) coaxed a walk, and he and Sutton scored one out later when Campbell stroked a triple to left center. Rider reached on another Bowling Green error which allowed Campbell to scamper home. Lyon posted the 10th run on the scoreboard with a solo shot over the right field wall.
Bowling Green answered with four runs in the home half of the second, but Kent State got those runs back with four more scores in the third. Rider coaxed a leadoff walk, and Roberts followed with a base hit one out later. That set up a three-run blast by Bagoly. Polen followed one out later with a solo shot to make it 14-4.
The Falcons cut the Kent State advantage to 14-7 with three runs in the bottom of the third, but the Golden Flashes retaliated again with five runs in the fourth. Lyon drew a two-out walk, and Roberts legged out an infield single to short. Bagoly drove them both home with a double to center. Sutton coaxed a walk, setting the table for a home run to left.
Kent State made it a 24-8 contest with five more runs in the fifth. Rider smacked a two-out single through the left side, and Lyon and Roberts followed by drawing back-to-back walks. Bagoly plated Rider and Lyon with a double to right, and Sutton followed by smashing a three-run home run.
Bowling Green cut into Kent State's lead with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth and two more in the sixth, but the Flashes plated seven more of its own over the seventh and eighth innings.
Kent State tacked on three more runs in the seventh. Freshman designated hitter Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio) led off with a single to center. Sutton reached on an error that allowed Monnot to move up to third. Monnot then scored on an error that put Polen on. Redshirt junior third baseman Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio) cleared the bases with a two-run triple.
Sophomore first baseman Cody Koch (Sandusky, Ohio) led off a four-run eighth with a leadoff single through the right side. Sutton doubled to right center to drive Koch home. Polen drew a walk, and fifth-year senior left fielder Joe Koch (Austintown, Ohio) doubled down the left field line to plate Sutton and move Polen to third. Polen tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Hamilton. Freshman center fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) then reached on an error that allowed Koch to score.
Freshman right-handed reliever John Birkbeck (Canton, Ohio) earned the pitching victory, improving to 2-0 on the season.
Kent State looks to avenge a 6-5 loss at Pittsburgh on March 28 as it welcomes the Panthers to Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium next Tuesday (April 17) in a midweek non-conference contest. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Admission is free