Flashes Settle for Split with Ball State
KENT, Ohio- Ball State (33-13, 11-3) held on to its slim lead in the MAC standings Friday as Kent State split a doubleheader with the Cardinals at the Diamond at Dix. Freshman Emma Johnson (Groveport, Ohio) tossed 10 innings on the day and tallied 15 strikeouts against the top hitting team in the conference.
The Golden Flashes (26-22, 11-5) ripped 10 hits in a 7-3 opening game victory, before Ball State jumped out to a 7-1 lead in game two and held on for an 8-5 win. The Cardinals totaled 12 hits in game two, 11 of which, came in the first four innings.
"We really wanted that sweep, but Ball State's a really good hitting team," Head Coach Karen Linder said. "I was happy with the way we fought back in that second game."
Junior Lauren Grimes (Tallmadge, Ohio) smacked a two-out single to center to put the Flashes on the board first Friday, but the Cardinals came back with three runs in the third, two of which were unearned. It would be Ball State's only scoring inning as Johnson earned the complete game victory.
"Emma was on and I think JB called a really good game," Linder said. "They mixed stuff up and kept their hitters off-balance. That was one of Emma's best performances of the year."
The Flashes took the lead back with a three-run fourth. Senior Mary Holt (Providence, R.I.) surprised the Cardinal defense by laying down a bases loaded bunt to bring the first run of the inning home. An RBI single to center by freshman Kim Kirkpatrick (Olmsted Falls, Ohio) tied the game and classmate Dani Ramos (South Euclid, Ohio) drew a bases loaded walk.
Another Kirkpatrick single and Ramos walk set up a three-run homer to left by senior Jess Blanton (Wheelersburg, Ohio), giving the Flashes a four-run lead.
"JB does a great job of staying on the pitch," Linder said. "And she came through big. She's a senior leader and she's doing her job."
In game two, the Cardinals put up four runs in the second with the help of two walks and a bunt single. Ball State extended its lead to 7-1, with two runs in the fourth.
Kent State responded with four runs in the fourth, including a three-run shot to left by Holt. Sophomore Alex Marcantonio (North Canton, Ohio) knocked a two-out RBI single through the right side, setting up Holt's blast.
The Flashes continued to put the bat on the ball, but nothing seemed to fall in. Cardinal started Kim Mazzapica went the distance and fanned three, improving to 20-3.
"We had some hard hits that they made plays on," Linder said. "Their second baseman did a really nice job of stopping balls that looked like they were going to go through. We had a lot of loud outs."
The Golden Flashes and Miami (11-5 MAC) both trail Bowling Green (12-4 MAC) by one game in the MAC East. The RedHawks come to Kent for single games Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).