No. 30 Kent State Baseball Rolls To Series Opening Win At Bowling Green
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The Kent State baseball team rolled to a 17-10 road win over Mid-American Conference East Division rival Bowling Green today (May 13) at Steller Field, marking the team's 26th triumph in its last 30 games.
Ranked No. 30 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Golden Flashes (35-13, 18-4 MAC) have won at least 35 games for the fourth straight season under seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin and 16th time in the last 29 years. The win over the Falcons (18-27, 10-12 MAC) marked Kent State's seventh conference weekend series opening victory in eight tries and fourth straight over an intra-division foe.
"We're just a solid baseball team," said Stricklin. "Our pitching and defense have been outstanding, our offense is well-balanced, and we're seeing the results."
The contest marked the second time this season Kent State has scored more than 15 runs and fourth time the squad has tallied more than 15 with hits – collecting 18 against Bowling Green in a performance in which every Kent State starter recorded a hit. Junior third baseman Travis Shaw (Washington Court House, Ohio) led the hit parade, going 4-for-5 with three singles, his team-leading 13th home run of the season and four RBIs. Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio) and sophomore center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) each added three hits.
"Our pitching has been carrying us all year long, but today was one of those days where our offense stepped up big and pushed us to the win," said Stricklin. "We had a lot of great at-bats up and down our lineup."
Redshirt sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Chafin (Wakeman, Ohio) improved to 6-1 on the season, striking out four while allowing five earned runs on four hits in four innings of work. Sophomore right-handed reliever Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) picked up his second save of 2011, fanning two while allowing two earned runs on two hits over the final 2.2 innings of the game.
Kent State struck first when Campbell led the game off with a double to left and then scored courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.).
The Falcons answered back by taking a 3-1 lead in the bottom half of the first, but the Flashes squared things at three-all in the third. Campbell cracked a one-out single up the middle and scored on a double to left by Rider. Rider scored and tied the game thanks to a base hit to center by Shaw.
The Golden Flashes broke the game wide open with a seven-run fourth inning. Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) was hit by a pitch with one out, redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) reached on a throwing error and freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) loaded the bases with a single to center. Campbell drew a walk to bump home Roberts. Rider then coaxed a walk to push Koch across the plate. Shaw brought around Toadvine and Campbell with a base hit up the middle. Klafczynski drew a walk to reload the bases for Kent State. Freshman designated hitter T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) drew a walk to score Rider. Roberts plated Shaw and Klafczynski with a single up the middle.
Bowling Green cut Kent State's lead in half with two scores in the bottom of the fourth, but the Flashes got a run back in the fifth when Toadvine smacked a leadoff single to left and later scored on a single up the middle by Klafczynski.
Kent State increased its lead to 12-5 in the seventh when Shaw hit a two-out single to center and scored on a double to center by Klafczynski.
Bowling Green cut Kent State's lead down to four with three runs in the bottom half of the seventh. Kent State was not to be denied, however. Sutton smacked a leadoff double to right and was replaced on the base path by freshman Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio), who later scored on a fielder's choice in the eighth.
The Flashes totaled four more runs in the ninth. Shaw crushed a leadoff homer to left. Klafczynski drew a walk, and junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) followed with a single through the right side. Redshirt sophomore pinch hitter Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio) doubled Klafczynski home. Koch then singled to left to plate Lyon and Hamilton.
The Golden Flashes seek their seventh conference series victory of the season Saturday (May 14) when they face off with the Falcons at 1 p.m. Senior southpaw Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) will take the mound for Kent State.