Late-Game Charge Powers Kent State Baseball To Series Win Over Lipscomb
Golden Flashes (4-2) blank the Bison (4-3) behind a combined four-hit masterpiece by Skulina, Michael Clark and Wilson.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Win the weekend.
The Kent State baseball team did just that behind a four-hit masterpiece dealt by sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio), redshirt sophomore southpaw reliever Michael Clark (Akron, Ohio) and junior righty reliever Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) and a late-game offensive charge to earn a 4-0 win over host Lipscomb Saturday (Feb. 26) and win the weekend series, 2-1, in non-conference action at Ken Dugan Field at Stephen L. Marsh Stadium.
After suffering a tough 2-1 loss to the Bison (4-3) in the opening game of the series Friday (Feb. 24), the Golden Flashes (4-2) responded by rolling to a 16-3 victory Saturday (Feb. 25) and kept Lipscomb off the scoreboard Sunday in the rubber match.
Kent State posted its second shutout win of the 2012 campaign by blanking Lipscomb. Kent State shut down No. 9 Georgia Tech, 5-0, last Friday (Feb. 17) in the opening game of the season in the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic.
"We talked after Friday's loss about how we needed to learn from it and move on," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We responded and won the weekend over a very good team on the road."
Skulina improved to 2-0 through two starts in his first season with the Blue & Gold by, fanning six over seven innings and allowing just two hits and two walks. Kent State's bullpen finished the shutout thanks to scoreless innings by Clark and Wilson. Each pitched a scoreless frame, struck out one and gave up one hit.
"Our pitching has been unbelievable," said Stricklin. "Every guy we've sent out there has done his job. Tyler did a great job of keeping them off the board until we were finally able to break through. The guys in the dugout talked about how the guy was pitching his tail off and we needed to reward him. Casey's a strike thrower who competes and has done a great job for us. Michael provided a big shot in the arm for us today. He was outstanding. It'll be interesting to watch how the season unfolds and how guys continue to mature and get more confidence. We've got a young staff, and it's exciting to watch these guys get better each time out."
The contest had the same feel as Friday's low-scoring affair, but after six scoreless innings, the Flashes finally broke through in the top of the seventh. Freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) reached base on a wild pitch after a strike out to lead off the frame, then moved to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by fifth-year senior left fielder Joe Koch (Austintown, Ohio) and to third on another wild pitch. Junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) drove him in one out later on a base hit through the right side to put Kent State up 1-0 and put Skulina in line for the pitching win.
"We had guys on base and guys in scoring position early, and we just couldn't execute to bring them in, and that was frustrating," said Stricklin. "We hung in there and kept battling and finally broke through."
The Flashes sealed the victory with a three-run ninth. Sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) coaxed a leadoff walk, and Campbell followed with a base hit to left. Redshirt sophomore right fielder Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio) moved both of them up 90 feet by laying down a sacrifice bunt, setting up a two-RBI double to left by senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) to up Kent State's advantage to three runs. After moving to third on a wild pitch, Lyon scored the final insurance run for the Golden Flashes courtesy of an infield single by junior first baseman George Roberts (Emporium, Pa.).
Campbell led all hitters with a double and three singles and was one of four Flashes with multiple hits. Lyon, senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) and sophomore designated hitter T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) each added two base knocks.
Lipscomb junior right hander Josh Cotham suffered the pitching defeat, allowing one earned run on seven hits and two walks in 6.2 innings of work. He totaled seven strikeouts.
Kent State heads to Bowling Green, Ky., next weekend (March 2-4) to square off with Western Kentucky.