Kent State Baseball Reaches 30-Win Mark Thanks To Doubleheader Sweep At Ohio
ATHENS, Ohio – Spring might be getting ready to give way to summer, and school might be getting ready to give way to vacations, but one constant remains: the Kent State baseball team keeps on winning.
The Golden Flashes (30-12, 15-3 MAC) earned a sweep of Mid-American Conference East Division foe Ohio (19-24, 5-13 MAC) courtesy of taking both games of a doubleheader today (April 30) at Bob Wren Stadium. Kent State took game one, 4-0, then won game two by a score of 9-1.
Kent State has won 22 of its last 26 games and seven straight. The Flashes have won at least 30 games for the 13th straight season and 24th time in the last 28 years – including all seven seasons current head coach Scott Stricklin has been at the helm. Kent State has swept its first two MAC East Division series of 2011 and has won five of six conference series this season to maintain its grip on the overall conference lead.
"It's really tough to sweep on the road, and we played as well as we've played in a solid month and a half," said Stricklin. "We pitched really well and played great defense. It was a complete team effort and everybody contributed."
Junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) had a huge weekend for Kent State, collecting nine hits – including three doubles, a triple and a home run and seven RBIs.
"David really swung the bat well and drove in some big runs for us," said Stricklin. "It was good to see him do that. Catchers get beat up so much behind the plate and get fatigued, and he really fought through it and had some big hits this weekend."
KENT STATE 4, OHIO 0
Senior left-handed starting pitcher Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) twirled an eight-strikeout effort, and Kent State did just enough offensively to earn a victory in game one.
The victory marked Kent State's seventh shutout of 2011.
Hallock worked 7.1 scoreless innings and issued just one walk to gain the upper hand in a pitching duel with Ohio left-handed starter Brent Choban. Hallock won his fifth straight start and improved to 7-4 in 2011. His 207 career strikeouts move him into sole possession of seventh place on Kent State's all-time list.
Junior righty Kyle McMillen (North Canton, Ohio) secured the final five outs of the contest to earn his 13th save of the season and 17th of his career. He fanned two and surrendered one hit in 1.2 innings.
The Flashes stranded runners in scoring position in three of the first four frames, but an Ohio miscue in the fifth inning helped the visitors get on the scoreboard first. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) coaxed a one-out walk and moved to second one out later on a single through the left side by junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.). Junior third baseman Shaw drew a walk to load the bags for Kent State. A fielding error at third base allowed Toadvine to scamper home and put senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio) on.
Kent State was unable to continue to take advantage of having the bases loaded in the fifth, but Hallock held serve through the next two frames. The Flashes finished the Bobcats off with a three-run ninth inning. Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) smacked a leadoff single to center and was replaced on the base path by redshirt freshman pinch runner Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio). Redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) moved Summers up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt. Toadvine put runners on the corners for the Flashes with a single through the left side. Campbell plated Summers and Toadvine with a double to left center. Campbell scored when Shaw ripped a two bagger to center.
Choban went 8.1 innings and was the tough-luck loser for the Bobcats. He allowed two runs – one earned – on eights hits and two walks. He struck out three. Ohio junior center fielder Ethan Newton led all hitters three singles.
KENT STATE 9, OHIO 1
Kent State broke a one-all tie in the fifth, then plated seven more runs in the ensuing four frames to nail down the weekend sweep of the Bobcats.
Lyon led all hitters with a three-hit performance – including two doubles and three RBIs. Rider added two singles, three RBis and two runs scored.
Junior left-handed starter David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) matched Hallock for the team lead by earning his seventh pitching victory of the season, striking out seven over six innings. He gave up seven hits and two walks.
"They (Hallock and Starn) don't beat themselves," said Stricklin. "They seldom walk guys or get behind in the count, and they put pressure on the hitter to make them beat them. When you don't walk people and have a good defense playing behind you, it's tough for other teams to score runs."
Kent State landed the first punch in the top of the first when Rider drew a one-out walk and scored on out later on a base hit through the left side by Lyon.
Ohio tied the game in the third when senior left fielder Kory Burkhart coaxed a two-out walk, advanced to second on a passed ball and then scored courtesy of a single to left center by senior second baseman Bryan Barnes.
The Flashes regained the lead when Toadvine reached on a fielder's choice and scored on a base hit to left by Shaw in the fifth.
Kent State broke the contest open with four runs in the sixth. Klafczynski ripped a double down the right field line. Redshirt sophomore pinch hitter Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio) moved Klafczynski to third with a sacrifice groundout. Klafczynski then scored on an RBI groundout by Roberts. Koch singled up the middle, then stole second. After Toadvine drew an intentional walk, Koch advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt. Campbell drew a walk, setting the stage for a double to left by Rider that cleared the bases and drove in three scores.
The Golden Flashes made it 8-1 with two more runs in the eighth. Rider was hit by a pitch and stole second. Shaw joined him on the bases by drawing a walk, and both scored thanks to a double down the left field line by Lyon.
Kent State added one final run in the ninth when Hamilton was hit by a pitch and later scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Campbell.
Kent State takes on second-place Miami in a showdown between the top teams in the MAC East Division next weekend (May 6-8) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.