No. 24 Kent State Baseball Prepares To Lock Horns With No. 5 Texas In 2011 NCAA Austin Regional Winner's Bracket Final
2011 NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP • AUSTIN REGIONAL
NO. 24 KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES (44-15)
NO. 5 TEXAS LONGHORNS (44-15)
SATURDAY, JUNE 4 • 7:30 P.M. EST (6:30 P.M. CST) • WINNER'S BRACKET FINAL
UFCU DISCH-FALK FIELD • AUSTIN, TEXAS
INTERNET RADIO: KENTSTATESPORTS.COM (Ty Linder, Dan Scotchmer)
LIVE VIDEO FEED: TEXASSPORTS.COM
PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #39 Andrew Chafin (R-So., LHP, Wakeman, Ohio) 7-1, 1.90 ERA, 97 SO, 21 BB, 11 GS, 80.1 IP
TEXAS: #26 Taylor Jungmann (Jr., RHP, Temple, Texas) 13-0, 0.95 ERA, 116 SO, 27 BB, 15 GS, 122.2 IP
Everything's bigger in Texas, so it's only fitting that one of the biggest games in Kent State baseball history will take place on the stage of the Lone Star State.
No. 3-seeded Kent State (44-15) will lock horns with No. 1-seeded Texas today (June 4) with a berth in the winner's bracket final of the 2011 NCAA Championship Austin Regional on the line. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST (6:30 p.m. CST) at the University of Texas's UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Ranked No. 24 in the country according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the Golden Flashes enter their clash with the No. 5-ranked Longhorns having won 37 of its last 43 games. Kent State is 2-2 this season against ranked opponents. The Flashes bounced back from 6-3 and 8-1 losses to Georgia Tech to close with a 6-1 victory at the No. 9-ranked Yellow Jackets on the season's opening weekend (Feb. 18-20). Kent State also blanked No. 21 Coastal Carolina, 2-0, on Feb. 11 at the Caravelle Resort Classic.
Kent State, which improved to 8-20 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with its opening-round 4-2 triumph in 11 innings over Texas State Saturday, has never squared off with Texas. The Golden Flashes are 1-14 all-time against Big 12 programs, most recently being swept in four games (March 12-14, 2010) by Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. Kent State is now 7-22 against programs from the state of Texas.
Friday's victory over Texas State marked Kent State's third-ever opening-round win in the NCAA Tournament. Kent State downed Georgia, 5-2, on May 21, 1992, but proceeded to be bounced from the postseason after a 14-1 loss to Western Carolina and a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Florida State the following day. More recently the Flashes edged Notre Dame, 2-1, at the Columbia Regional on June 4, 2004. Kent State's season ended after a 7-1 loss to the Fighting Irish and a 7-4 loss to Arizona the following day.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Sophomore pinch hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) delivered the game-winning RBI single in the top of the 11th inning to push No. 3-seeded Kent State baseball team to a 4-2 triumph over No. 2-seeded Texas State Saturday (June 3) in the opening game of the Austin Regional.
Junior right-handed Louisville Slugger Third Team All-America reliever Kyle McMillen (North Canton, Ohio) completed his 2.1 frames of work by sitting the Bobcats down in order and ending the contest in emphatic fashion by delivering a strikeout. McMillen worked over two innings of scoreless ball, striking out two while walking one and hitting a batter while improving to 1-2 on the season.
McMillen and senior right-hander Justin Gill (Canton, Ohio) combined to relieve senior starting southpaw and MAC Pitcher of the Year Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio), who put together a solid 6.1 frames of work. The Louisville Slugger Third Team All-America pick fanned three and allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks.
Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) led the Golden Flashes at the plate with a three-hit performance. Redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) also collected two hits.
Junior left-handed pitcher Sam Stafford yielded just one run on two hits and three walks while striking out six over 7.0 innings of work to earn the win as the Longhorns defeated No. 4-seeded Princeton, 5-3, win over the Princeton Saturday (June 3) in the Austion Regional opening round.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
The winner of today's game advances to the regional final and receives an opportunity to advance to the NCAA Super Regional next weekend (June 10-13). The champion of the Austin Regional will face the victor of the Tempe Regional with a chance to advance to the College World Series (June 18-29) hanging in the balance.
Since the NCAA debuted the four-team regional format in 1999, Kent State has advanced to a regional final once. That appearance came in 2001, when the Flashes bounced back from an opening-round 9-8 loss to Mississippi State on May 25 by taking down Ohio State (9-8) and Delaware (12-11) the following day. The Flashes fell to Mississippi State again on May 27, 14-4, in the Starkville Regional title game.
In addition to the postseason implications, the 2011 Kent State squad can join the 1992 team as the winningest in school history by reaching the 45-win mark.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
Texas won a share of the Big 12 Conference regular-season title, finishing with a 19-8 league mark and earned the 2011 NCAA Championship's No. 7 national seed. The Longhorns are looking for their seventh national title in program history and third in the last 10 years (1949, 1950, 1975, 1983, 2002, 2005). The Longhorns are led by 15th-year head coach Augie Garrido, the winnigest head coach in college baseball history. Garrido has guided Texas to six trips to the College World Series in the last 11 seasons.
GET READY FOR A GUNFIGHT
Today's pitching matchup is a marquee one that features a starting pitching matchup that should make fans and professional scouts alike drool.
Kent State redshirt sophomore left-hander Andrew Chafin (Wakeman, Ohio) opposes Texas's junior righty Taylor Jungmann, who are both considered two of the most coveted arms in the upcoming Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Baseball America ranks Chafin as the seventh-best left-handed prospect while Jungmann is considered a top-five right-handed talent.
Chafin ranks 29th in the nation with a 1.90 ERA and his 97 strikeouts are tied for 39th, helping the Golden Flashes rank sixth in the country with a team ERA of 2.54.
Chafin constructed a scoreless complete-game masterpiece in Kent State's MAC semifinal win over Eastern Michigan, fanning six and walking just two to improve to 7-1 on the season. The First Team All-MAC selection sat down the side in three frames.
Chafin hurled a complete-game four-hit shutout and tallied a career-high 15 strikeouts with no walks as Kent State won its MAC opening game and 2011 home opener, 1-0, over Toledo on March 25. He hurled 113 pitches with a whopping 88 going for strikes, sat down the side in six innings – including striking out six straight between the seventh and ninth frames – in addition to issuing 22 first-pitch strikes. He was awarded MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week for the performance. Chafin tallied 13 strikeouts, allowed one earned run on seven hits in 8.2 innings of work and did not issue a walk as Kent State defeated Eastern Michigan, 4-2, on April 8. He totaled seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball for the Golden Flashes and had a no-hitter going through five frames at then-No. 23 Louisville on March 4 in his second start of the season, garnering MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week accolades for his effort.
Jungmann is a perfect 13-0 in 15 starts in 2011, totaling 116 strikeouts and posting an ERA of 0.95. He garnered Louisville Slugger First Team All-America honors for his efforts.
OH HOW SWEET...A THREE-PEAT!
Three is a magic number. You'll have a hard time convincing the Kent State baseball team otherwise after the Golden Flashes stormed past Miami, 11-0, in the 2011 Mid-American Conference Tournament Championship Game May 28 at VA Memorial Stadium, clinching the program's unprecedented third straight conference tournament title and ninth in program history. The win also punched Kent State's ticket to the 2011 NCAA Championships as the MAC's automatic bid.
The Flashes opened the tournament with a 6-2 victory over Bowling Green on May 25 and followed it with a 5-4 triumph over Eastern Michigan on May 26. EMU forced the Flashes to win two games on championship Saturday after beating Kent State, 4-2, on Friday (May 27), but Kent State answered the challenge by shutting out the Eagles, 8-0, in the semifinal to advance to their sixth straight championship game and 14th in program history
GUIDING THE SHIP TO THE 'SHIP
The Golden Flashes won their ninth Mid-American Conference tournament crown in program history, seventh in the last 10 years and fourth under seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin.
Stricklin garnered MAC Coach of the Year honors for the second time in his career. He was also named the conference's skipper of the year following his second season at the helm of the Golden Flashes in 2006. His selection marks the seventh time a Kent State head coach has earned the conference's top honor.
The program becomes the MAC's first to win back-to-back-to-back tournaments, and the 2011 squad becomes the first to capture both the regular season and tournament titles since the 2005 Miami team did it. No. 1-seeded Kent State became the first top seed to win the MAC Tournament since that same Miami squad accomplished the feat, with the Flashes doing it with a 4-1 record over the past four days. The Flashes opened the tournament with a 6-2 victory over Bowling Green on Wednesday (May 25) and followed it with a 5-4 triumph over Eastern Michigan on Thursday (May 26). EMU forced the Flashes to win two games on championship Saturday after beating Kent State, 4-2, on Friday (May 27), but Kent State answered the challenge by shutting out the Eagles, 8-0, in the semifinal today to advance to their sixth straight championship game and 14th in program history. The squad becomes Kent State's sixth to win more than 40 games in a season.
Stricklin lettered three seasons as a catcher at Kent State for Hall. He earned All-Mid-American Conference honors in 1992 and '93 and was named to the 1993 NCAA South II Regional All-Tournament team. In those two seasons, he handled pitching staffs ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the nation in earned-run average.
Stricklin graduated magna cum laude from Kent State in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in marketing.
THE (ALL) AMERICAN DRAM
Senior left-handed starting pitcher Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) and junior right-handed closer Kyle McMillen (North Canton, Ohio) garnered Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I Third Team All-America selection as members of the No. 24 ranked Kent State squad, the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper announced on June 2.
A 2010 MLB Draft selection of the Philadelphia Phillies, Hallock has posted a Mid-American Conference-best 10 wins, which ties him for 17th in the nation and second on the school's single-season records list. The team captain anchors a Kent State pitching staff that leads the conference and is sixth in the country with a 2.54 team ERA. Hallock has struck out 86 while allowing just 22 earned runs over 105.1 innings and 16 starts. His ERA of 1.88 ranks 30th in the country.
He ranks second in school history with 235 career strikeouts, third with 296.0 innings pitched and tied for seventh with 22 career victories.
McMillen is tied for second in the nation with a school and conference-record 17 saves, earning both Louisville Slugger Third Team All-American honors and First Team All-MAC honors. His 22 career saves ranks as the fourth-most in school history.
MONSTERS OF THE MAC
In addition to senior left-handed starting pitcher Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) garnering Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year honors and seventh-year head coach Scott Stricklin earning MAC Coach of the Year recognition, several other Golden Flashes have been recognized by the conference over the past week.
Hallock also earned First Team All-MAC honors, joining junior third baseman Travis Shaw (Washington Court House, Ohio), senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio), redshirt sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Chafin (Wakeman, Ohio), junior left-handed starting pitcher David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) and junior right-handed relief pitcher Kyle McMillen (North Canton, Ohio). Junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) also garnered All-MAC selection, earning Second Team distinction.
Chafin, Lyon, Starn and sophomore center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) also earned All-MAC Tournament Team recognition.
Starn delivered a four-hit shutout gem in seven innings of work to improve to 9-2 on the season in Kent State's 8-0 blanking of Miami in the 2011 MAC Championship game on , matching his career-high of 11 strikeouts and passing Matt Guerrier (1999; 103) for the second-most strikeouts in a single season with 114 to earn MAC Tournament MVP honors.
GEORGE OF THE JUNGLE
Sophomore first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) has batted .372 over the last 14 games, posting 16 hits -- including four multi-hit games -- with 10 RBIs, a triple and a home run. He matched his single-game career-high of three hits twice -- including a 3 for 4 effort with three RBIs and his first career home run in a 14-1 thrashing of Miami on May 7 and a 3-for-3, one-RBI effort in Kent State's 4-2 victory in extra innings over Texas State yesterday in the 2011 NCAA Championship Austion Regional opening-round game.
Redshirt junior left fielder Joe Koch (Youngstown, Ohio) has been hot at the plate as of late, batting .351 with 13 hits, five runs scored and three RBIs over the last nine games.