Kent State Baseball Team Takes Weekend Series At Ohio With Pair Of Saturday Victories
Golden Flashes extend winning streak to five in a row, capture sixth MAC series victory in seven tries in 2012.
ATHENS, Ohio – The Kent State baseball team weathered a lightning suspension that pushed its Friday (May 4) series opener into Saturday (May 5) to post a 4-1 win over Ohio, then followed it up with an 8-1 triumph in game two of a key Mid-American Conference East Division three-game weekend set at Bob Wren Stadium.
The Golden Flashes (29-17, 17-3 MAC) won their sixth MAC series of the 2012 season in seven tries. Kent State has won 21 of its last 28 games – including 10 of their last 12 and five in a row. The weekend series win allowed Kent State to maintain its hold on first place in the race for the conference's regular season championship and number one seed in the 2012 MAC Tournament, which will be held May 23-26 all All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
"We've been playing well so far," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We've played great defense and received good pitching. Our defense has made diving plays all over the place this weekend. Every single guy has made plays. That's how you win championships, with pitching and defense."
GAME ONE – KENT STATE 4, OHIO 1
Kent State held a 3-1 lead over Ohio after six innings in the opening game the series Friday but lightning forced the suspension of the contest, which concluded Saturday.
Kent State struck first with two runs in the top of the first by taking advantage of two Ohio fielding miscues. Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) got things started by coaxing a one-out walk. Senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) rolled one back to Ohio senior right-handed starting pitcher Brent Choban. Choban tried to start a double play by attempting to throw Rider out at second, but the toss missed its mark, and Rider raced to third on the throwing error. Junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) capitalized by lifting a sacrifice fly to right, allowing Rider to tag up and score the contest's first run. Lyon took second on a wild pitch, then scored when junior designated hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) took first base when Ohio junior third baseman Dan Schmidt's throw to freshman first baseman Jake Madsen missed its mark.
The Flashes loaded the bases with back-to-back-to-back singles to open the second and tacked on another run as a result. After racing back to the wall to rob Ohio senior right fielder Jensen Painter of an extra-base hit and end the bottom of the first, sophomore right fielder T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) led off the top of the ensuing frame with a single to left. He advanced to second when freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) sent a base hit back on the middle, then moved to third as sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) legged out a bunt single to fill the bases with Flashes. Lyon took advantage two outs later, showing veteran plate discipline by working the count full and drawing a walk to bump home Sutton and up Kent State's advantage to 3-0.
After Kent State senior southpaw ace David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) and Choban traded zeros over the next three innings, the Bobcats filled the bases in the home half of the fifth but were only able to come away with one run. Sophomore shortstop Garrett Black, senior center fielder Ethan Newton and freshman left fielder Tyler Wells collected three straight one-out singles. Starn dug deep and struck out Painter for the second out, but then hit Madsen with a pitch to push Black across the plate and Ohio its first run. That's all the Bobcats mustered, though, as Polen made a nice scoop at third and forced Madsen out at second to end the inning.
Flashes of lightning at the conclusion of the sixth inning forced the two squads to wait until Saturday to determine the final outcome of game one.
Starn put himself in line for the pitching victory for Kent State, striking out seven over the first six innings. He surrendered one earned run on eight hits and a walk. His 299.0 career innings pitched ranks third in school history behind Dirk Hayhurst (320.2, 2000-03) and Pat Bangston (313.2, 1984-87). He was replaced on the mound by senior righty Ryan Mace (Tallmadge, Ohio) on Saturday, who tossed three strong scoreless innings to earn his third save of the season and seal Starn's sixth victory of the season and 24th of his career, which ties Hayhurst for the third most in Kent State history.
While Mace kept Ohio's offense in check, the Flashes added a final run to their total in the top of the ninth when Lyon doubled down the left field line, moved to third on a ground out by Roberts and scored on an RBI ground out by redshirt junior pinch hitter Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio).
Choban was tagged with the loss for Ohio, allowing three runs – one earned – on six hits and three walks. He struck out four over six frames.
GAME TWO – KENT STATE 8, OHIO 1
Junior right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Bores (Strongsville, Ohio) gave Kent State six strong innings to earn the pitching victory over his former school, Rider tied the MAC record for career hits with 318 and five Flashes posted multi-hit games as the Blue & Gold plated six runs over the final two frames to nail down the series win.
Sutton set the tone for Kent State's day by making a spectacular diving catch to take a hit away from Newton in the bottom of the first.
The Flashes landed the first punch in the top of the third when Campbell doubled to right field and scored on a two-base throwing error by Black. Rider followed with a single to center field that tied Scott Simon (2003-04, 06-07) of Northern Illinois for the conference's career hits record. Lyon followed by drawing a walk. Rider advanced to third on a double play, then scored on a base hit to left field by Hamilton.
Ohio got a run back in the home half of the third when White cracked a leadoff single up the middle and scored on a base hit by Black.
Bores kept Kent State's lead intact over the next three frames, and redshirt sophomore left-handed reliever Michael Clark (Akron, Ohio) and redshirt freshman right-handed reliever Josh Pierce (Avon, Ohio) combined to shut the Bobcats down in the seventh.
The Kent State offense responded in the top of the eighth to extend its lead to 5-1 with three more runs. Lyon smacked a leadoff single up the middle, and Roberts followed with a base hit to right to chase Ohio senior right-handed starting pitcher Jason Moulton from the contest. Junior southpaw Marck Paliotto came on to relieve Moulton, but Lyon and Roberts both scored by way of a base hit and an error that put Hamilton at second. After Hamilton moved up to third on a single to right by Sutton, he tagged up and scored on a sacrifice fly to right by freshman left fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.).
The Flashes added three more in the top of the ninth. Rider coaxed a leadoff walk, and Lyon reached on an error. Rider scored two outs later on a base hit to left by Sutton, and Mixlos doubled Sutton home for Kent State's final insurance run.
Pierce retired the side in the bottom of the ninth to pick up his first save of the 2012 season. Bores earned the pitching win and improved to 6-2 on the season.
The Flashes go for their second straight MAC series sweep Sunday (May 6). Sophomore righty Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) gets the start on the hill for Kent State.