Lyon’s Walk-Off Homer In The 12th Gives No. 28 Kent State Baseball 6-5 Win Over Akron
KENT, Ohio -- Junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) sent a 2-1 pitch over the right field wall in the 12th inning to provide the Kent State baseball team with a 6-5 win over Akron in a Mid-American Conference East Division game today (May 20) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
"I had a pretty good idea it was gone when I hit it," said Lyon. "It was a great feeling to battle through and get the victory."
Ranked No. 28 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, Kent State (39-13, 21-4 MAC) has won 30 of its last 34 games – and seven straight – to clinch its eighth MAC series win in eight tries. The Flashes, who clinched the 2011 MAC regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament the day before, won all four of their MAC East Division series in 2011.
"It was a good baseball game," said seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "It's a shame somebody had to lose that game. "
Lyon and junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) powered Kent State's offense with three hits. Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio) and freshman designated hitter T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) each contributed two hits.
Senior right-handed relief pitcher Justin Gill (Canton, Ohio) earned his second victory in as many days, tossing 3.1 frames and fanning four to improve to 4-2 in 2011. Senior southpaw Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) made his final home start, striking out five in six innings of work.
"It's good to see Justin finish strong," said Stricklin."Justin was insisting he wanted to finish the game. He's worked really hard and it's big to have him performing like he is."
Akron struck first by taking advantage of two Kent State errors to plate two unearned runs and take a 2-0 lead in the third.
Kent State's bats awoke in the bottom of the fifth to knot the score at two-all. Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) battled back from an 0-2 count to lead off the frame with a base hit up the middle. Redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) followed by singling through the left side. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) drew a four-pitch walk to fill the bases. Rider delivered an RBI-single one out later to score Roberts. Junior third baseman Travis Shaw (Washington Court House, Ohio) tied the game by serving up a sacrifice fly to left to allow Koch to tag up and score.
Akron capitalized on three hits and two walks to score twice and take a 4-2 lead in the top of the seventh, but the Golden Flashes responded to the challenge in the home half. Rider cracked a one-out base hit to left, and Shaw followed with a single through the left side to set the stage for a three-run blast over the wall in right-center by senior right fielder Klafczynski.
"Ben got an off-speed pitch over the plate and was able to get it up," said Stricklin. "Once again, it was a clutch hit by our senior captain."
Unfortunately for the Flashes, the Zips answered right back with a solo shot to left by freshman first baseman Kurt Gamby to even the score at five-all. Gill then entered the game for Kent State and held the Zips off the scoreboard to allow for Lyon's heroics in the 12th.
Kent State goes for 40 or more victories for the eighth time in program history and for its sixth MAC series sweep of 2011 on Senior Day at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. The Flashes will honor the contributions of Klafczynski, Gill, Hallock and Brennen Glass (Springfield, Ohio) in a pregame ceremony. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.