Kent State Baseball Trumps Central Michigan In Series Finale To Win Weekend Set
Skulina tallies a career-high 10 strikeouts as Golden Flashes win fourth MAC series in five tries.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Kent State baseball team shook off a slow start, and sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) tallied a career-high 10 strikeouts to down Central Michigan, 6-4, in the Mid-American Conference weekend series finale Sunday (April 22) at Theunissen Stadium.
The Golden Flashes (23-16, 12-3 MAC) bounced back from a 3-0 shutout loss in the Friday (April 20) series opener to trump the Chippewas (17-24, 7-8 MAC), 6-3, the following day and seal their fourth MAC series win in five tries in 2012 with the Sunday triumph, marking Kent State's first series victory in Mount Pleasant, Mich., under eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. Kent State has won 15 of its last 21 games.
Skulina shrugged off a shaky first inning to put together a solid six-inning outing and improve to 5-2 in 10 starts. He allowed three runs on six hits and three walks.
"The game could have gotten away from us early, but Tyler and the rest of our guys kept battling," said Stricklin. "Tyler pitched well for us today and was a big part of us getting the win."
Junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) paced Kent State's bats with a 3-for-4 effort – his 18th multi-hit game of the season – while driving in a run and scoring another. Freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) posted two hits – including the go-ahead two-run home run in the fourth inning. Freshman designated hitter Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio) collected two doubles, drove in a run and scored another.
Two Kent State errors in the bottom of the first inning led to an early 2-0 lead for Central Michigan, but the Golden Flashes responded in the top of the second as Monnot cracked a one-out double to right and scored when freshman left fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) drove him in with a double to left center to cut Central Michigan's lead to 2-1.
The Flashes grabbed the lead from the Chippewas in the top of the fourth as Roberts smacked a leadoff single to left to set the table for a two-run home run over the right field wall two outs later courtesy of Polen to put Kent State in front, 3-2.
Kent State made it a four-run contest by placing a three spot on the scoreboard in the fifth. Sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) reached on a fielding error by Central Michigan freshman third baseman Joey Houlihan, then advanced to second on a wild pitch and to third on a fly out to right center by junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio). Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) coaxed a one-out walk to put runners on the corners, and senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) followed by delivering a base hit through the left side to drive in Toadvine. Roberts plated Rider with a single through the left side, chasing Central Michigan junior left-handed starting pitcher Rick Dodridge from the game. Monnot made it 6-2 in favor of the Golden Flashes with a double to right to score Lyon.
The Chippewas got a run back in the home half of the fifth as senior right fielder Eric Wrozek came off the bench to hit a pinch-hit leadoff double down the right field line, advance to third on a wild pitch and score on an infield hit by junior shortstop Jordan Dean.
Central Michigan made it a two-run game in the bottom of the seventh when senior center fielder Tyler Hall coaxed a one-out walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by senior first baseman William Arnold and a throwing error by Toadvine.
Kent State's bullpen did not allow the Chippewas to get any closer. Redshirt freshman right-handed reliever Josh Pierce (Avon, Ohio) tossed a scoreless eighth inning, and freshman southpaw Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio) did the same in the ninth to record his second save of the season.
Kent State welcomes Niagara to Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium Tuesday (April 24) for a 3 p.m. non-conference contest.