Klafczynski Shines As No. 28 Kent State Baseball Beats Cleveland State In Final Non-Conference Game Of 2011
KENT, Ohio -- The Kent State baseball team defeated Cleveland State, 6-2, today (May 16) in the final game ever between the two programs at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
"We didn't play very well to begin the day, but our offense opened it up for us late, and our pitching was really good and carried us again to help us overcome the slow start," said seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin.
Ranked No. 28 according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, Kent State (37-13) has won 28 of its last 32 games and finished the 2011 non-conference schedule 18-7, which includes road victories over No. 8 Georgia Tech and No. 26 Coastal Carolina.
"Our non-conference success speaks for itself," said Stricklin. "We're showing up in some rankings, and our RPI is very strong. We've done everything we can possibly do by playing the best non-conference schedule we could play. I feel like we've done everything we can to put ourselves in a good position on the national stage."
Cleveland State (12-39) was designated as the home team for the contest, as the washed out April 19 game was originally scheduled to be a home game for the Vikings at All Pro Freight Stadium. The game was the last between the Golden Flashes and Vikings as Cleveland State recently announced its intent to end the baseball program at the conclusion of the 2011 season. The Flashes swept the season series over the Vikings, defeating Cleveland State, 6-4 on April 27 at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. Kent State owns a 68-20-1 edge in the all-time series against Cleveland State.
Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio) posted his team-leading 22nd multi-hit game of the season, leading the charge with a 4-for-4 effort that included a double and an RBI. His RBI moved him into third place on Kent State's career records list with 183, passing Greg Rohan (2005-09). Sophomore center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio), junior third baseman Travis Shaw (Washington Court House, Ohio) and sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) each collected two hits.
Freshman right-handed reliever Dan Slavik (St. Clairsville, Ohio) tossed two scoreless innings of two-hit ball to improve to 2-0 on the season.
"Dan threw two good innings and got the win, and we're going to need guys like him come tournament time to help us extend our season," said Stricklin.
Cleveland State tallied single scores in the first and fourth innings, but the Flashes tied things up with a two-run fifth frame. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) was hit by a pitch with two outs. Campbell followed with a single through the left side. Junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) knotted the game a two-RBI triple to left field.
After Slavik held serve through the fifth and sixth – including sitting the Vikings down in order in the latter – the Flashes took the lead with three runs in the seventh. Toadvine smacked a leadoff single to right, then stole second. Campbell beat out a bunt single. Shaw doubled to right to plate Toadvine. Klafczynski followed with a single to right to score Campbell. Junior designated hitter David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) made it 5-2 in favor of Kent State with a base hit to center.
The Flashes added one last insurance score in the eighth. Toadvine took third on a three-base error, then tagged up and scored when Campbell served up a sacrifice fly to right.
The Golden Flashes will have the opportunity to clinch the program's 11th MAC regular season title and first since 2008 when they take on Akron in the Fifth Annual Diamond Classic Thursday (May 19) at Canal Park, a contest that benefits Akron Children's Hospital.
"We need a big crowd because it's for a great cause and it's for a championship," said Stricklin, "I told our players that we're playing for a ring on Thursday night. Hopefully, we'll be ready to go and ready to compete and the result will be a championship."
The Diamond Classic marks the beginning of a three-game home stand against the Zips to close the 2011 regular season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.