No. 30 Kent State Baseball Rides Hallock’s Arm, Campbell’s Bat To Series Win Over Bowling Green
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio -- The Kent State baseball team rode the arm of left-handed starting pitcher Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) and the bat of sophomore center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) to an 8-0 shutout and a Mid-American Conference East Division road series victory over Bowling Green today (May 14) at Steller Field.
Ranked No. 30 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Golden Flashes (36-13, 19-4 MAC) are now one victory away from clinching the 2011 MAC regular season title, which would be the 11th in program history and first since 2008. Kent State has won 27 of its last 31 games and seven of eight conference series – including four straight series wins over MAC East foes.
"It's nice that the task at hand is finally here, which is winning the championship," said seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We've been kind of counting down and getting ready for this day. We'll just play it like we've been playing the last few weeks, like every game is the most important game we're going to play. "
Hallock dealt a career-high 8.1-inning shutout of the Falcons (18-28, 10-13 MAC) and fanned a career-high 10 batters to move into second place on Kent State's career strikeouts list with 224, passing current Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Matt Guerrier, who pitched for the Flashes from 1997-99. Hallock improved to 9-4 on the season with the mound triumph, tying Joe Skodny (1982-85) for seventh place on the school's career wins list with 21. His nine wins rank first on both the team and in the MAC. He has made a serious case to be named MAC Pitcher of the Year, winning his last seven starts by working through the seventh inning in each and striking out seven or more in his last five outings. During the seven-game stretch, Hallock has tossed three shutouts, tallied 48 strikeouts, allowed just four earned runs and recorded an ERA of 0.69.
"Kyle was outstanding," said Stricklin. "He commanded the strike zone and threw all four of his pitches for strikes. In fastball counts, he was able to throw his changeup and his slider. He did everything you need your guy to do to be successful."
While Hallock had a big day on the mound, Kent State enjoyed an equally solid day as a team at the plate. Kent State totaled 17 hits -- marking the second game in a row and fifth time this season the Golden Flashes have recorded at least 15 hits. Campbell led the charge with a career-high five base hits and drove in two runs. Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio), junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) and freshman designated hitter T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) all chipped in two hits to Kent State's cause.
"We played solid all the way around," said Stricklin. "We played great defense and made tons of plays behind Kyle. Offensively, we got hits when we needed them. I thought our guys had a lot of good at-bats."
Kent State wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, plating three runs in the top of the first. Campbell got the ball rolling with a single up the middle. Klafczynski singled through the left side two outs later, and Lyon plated Campbell with a base hit to center. Sutton followed with an RBI single to center to score Klafczynski. Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) singled home Lyon with a hit through the left side.
The Flashes tacked three more on in the third. Lyon cracked a leadoff single to left. Sutton followed with one to right that moved Lyon to third. Roberts laid down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt back to the mound that allowed Lyon to scamper home. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) sent a single down the left field line to bring around Sutton one out later. Junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) scored Toadvine with a single to left.
While Kent State's offense did their part, Hallock sat down the side in order in five frames – including the first 11 straight batters to set the tone.
Kent State added its last two runs in the top of the ninth. Sophomore pinch hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) hit a one-out single to third and was replaced on the base path by freshman pinch runner Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio). After Summers stole second, redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) coaxed a walk. After a double steal put Summers and Koch in scoring position, Campbell singled both home with a hit to left.
Bowling Green sophomore right-handed starter Nick Bruns suffered the pitching defeat for the Falcons, surrendering six earned runs on 10 hits and a walk in just 2.2 innings of work.
The Golden Flashes shoot for their fifth MAC series sweep of the season Sunday (May 15). Junior southpaw David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) gets the start for Kent State.