Kent State Adds Another ‘W’ With Midweek Triumph Over Cleveland State
KENT, Ohio -- The Kent State baseball team had to wait 30 minutes through a rain shower, but at the end of the day when the skies had cleared, it had recorded a 6-4 non-conference win over Cleveland State today (April 27) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium – its 19th victory in its last 23 tries.
"We pitched very well and played great defense," said seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "I thought we gave away some at-bats, and that was a little disappointing. A win is a win, though, and we'll take it and move on to the next challenge."
The triumph improved Kent State (27-12) to 11-1 on its home field. The Flashes are 116-40 at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium since 2004.
Redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) started for the first time in three games after dealing with a shoulder injury and collected two singles, two RBIs and a run scored to propel Kent State's offense.
"It feels amazing (to start again)," said Koch. "When I got hurt, I felt it was going to be an injury that would keep me out a couple weeks, but our trainer, Chris Wells, bailed me out by diagnosing it quickly and getting me in a nice rehab program. Having that first at-bat be a line-drive single over the shortstop's head is going to propel me into this weekend."
The Flashes used four pitchers in the victory, with fifth-year senior Brennen Glass (Springfield, Ohio) earning the win in relief work to improve his season record to 3-1. He struck out two and allowed one hit in two innings of work. Junior right-handed closer Kyle McMillen (North Canton, Ohio) posted a four-out save -- with all four outs coming by way of strikeout – to garner his 12th save of 2011 and 15th of his career.
"It's nice to be able to go into a game and feel like we have momentum," said McMillen. "When I go in there, it's usually a close game, and I feel like our intensity picks up. It's nice to have all the guys behind me all the time."
The Flashes struck first with a three-spot on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio) smacked a leadoff single up the middle. One out later, sophomore catcher Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) singled to center to put two on for Kent State. Redshirt junior left fielder Koch provided the home team with a little two-out lightning with a base hit to left that scored Klafczynski. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) made it 2-0 in favor of Kent State courtesy of an RBI single through the left side to plate Bagoly. Sophomore center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) extended the advantage to three runs with a single to center that brought home Koch.
Cleveland State answered in the top of the third when junior second baseman Jason Haditsch cracked a two-out single to right, and junior third baseman John Calhoun picked up two RBIs by sending a home run over the left field wall to cut Kent State's lead to one run.
The Vikings evened the contest at three-all in the ensuing frame. Junior center fielder Alex Johnson coaxed a leadoff walk, then advanced to second on a throwing error. He scored two outs later thanks to a single to center by junior catcher Matt Kirkwood.
The Golden Flashes broke the stalemate in the sixth. Junior third baseman Travis Shaw (Washington Court House, Ohio) and Klafczynski drew back-to-back walks to get the frame started. The bases filled with Flashes one out later when Bagoly was hit by a pitch. Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) put Kent State back in front by serving up a sacrifice fly to center, allowing Shaw to tag up and score. Koch made Kent State's lead two runs again by placing a single in center field to score Klafczynski.
Kent State made it a three-run game again in the seventh. Junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) drew a leadoff walk, then stole second. The Vikings opted to intentionally walk Klafczynski one out later. Junior designated hitter David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) plated Rider with a perfect bunt single and made it a 6-3 game.
McMillen came on to get the last out of the eighth. The Vikings got a run back in the ninth when senior left fielder Anthony Sambula led off the frame with a base hit to center and later scored on a passed ball, but McMillen shook it off to end the contest by tossing a strikeout.
Kent State resumes MAC play this weekend (April 29-May 1) with a trip to Athens, Ohio, to battle East Division rival Ohio in a three-game set.