Kent State Baseball Grabs MAC Lead With Victory Over Eastern Michigan
KENT, Ohio -- Redshirt sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Chafin (Wakeman, Ohio) reached double digits in strikeouts for the third time this season to help Kent State down Eastern Michigan, 4-2, today (April 8) in a Mid-American Conference game at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
The victory puts the Golden Flashes (18-10, 6-1 MAC) in the driver's seat for the race for the MAC regular season crown and runs Kent State's winning streak to seven – including five straight conference victories, which is the program's longest such streak in three years.
"We pitched outstanding," said seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "Andrew was great out there again. It's amazing, he wasn't his sharpest, but he still had 13 strikeouts and no walks. When you win on Friday against a really good team, it's a good win for us."
Chafin tallied 13 strikeouts -- just two off of his career high set two weeks ago against Toledo – and allowed one earned run on seven hits in 8.2 innings of work. He did not issue a walk and improved to 4-1 on the season. Junior right-handed closer Kyle McMillen (North Canton, Ohio) earned his third straight save and seventh of the season. His 11 career saves ties him with Chad Wagler (2003-06) for fourth place in program history.
"It feels great to get the win," said Chafin. "I didn't have my best stuff out there, but I pushed through it and got the win."
Junior third baseman Travis Shaw (Washington Court House, Ohio) led the Flashes at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
The Flashes struck first with two runs in the bottom of the second. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) smacked a leadoff double to left to get things started. Redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) was hit by a pitch to put two men on with no outs. Junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) laid down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt back to the mound to move both runners up 90 feet. That set the table for an RBI base hit to left by Shaw.
Eastern Michigan (18-11, 5-2 MAC) took advantage of two miscues by Kent State in the top of the fourth. Junior center fielder Brent Ohrman led off the with a base hit, then advanced to second on a throwing error. Sophomore Daniel Russell reached base safely courtesy of an error. Ohrman crossed home plate one out later thanks to a single to center by senior second baseman Zack Leonard.
The Flashes got a run back in the bottom half as junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) smacked a leadoff double down the left field line, then scored off a double to left by sophomore designated hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio).
The Eagles answered right back in the top of the fifth when freshman designated hitter Dae Bowden cracked a one-out single to left, advanced to second on a base hit to right by senior right fielder Ken Battiston, stole third and then scored on an RBI groundout to short by Ohrman.
That's as close as the Eagles got, though, as Chafin sat down the side in next two frames – including three straight strikeouts in the seventh. Kent State added to its lead in the eighth when Rider double down the left field line and later scored.
Chafin recorded back-to-back strikeouts to begin the bottom of the ninth, then McMillen closed the door on the Eagles by inducing a force out to end the game.
Kent State and Eastern Michigan square off again Saturday (April 9) in a 1 p.m. meeting at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. The Flashes will send senior southpaw Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) to the mound.