Kent State Baseball Opens MAC Play, Home Slate By Hosting Northern Illinois
vs. Northern Illinois Huskies (5-16)
March 23-25, 2012
Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium (FREE ADMISSION)
Follow on Twitter @FlashesBaseball
--Friday, March 23 • 3 p.m. ET
PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #37 David Starn (Sr., LHP, Hudson, Ohio) 3-2, 1.60 ERA, 31 SO, 12 BB, 5 GS, 33.2 IP
NORTHERN ILLINOIS: #4 Tom Barry (Sr., LHP, Orland Park, Ill.) 0-3, 7.09 ERA, 17 SO, 16 BB, 5 GS, 26.2 IP
Saturday, March 24 • 1 p.m. ET
PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #19 Ryan Bores (Jr., RHP, Strongsville, Ohio) 3-2, 5.81 ERA, 14 SO, 8 BB, 5 GS, 26.1 IP
NORTHERN ILLINOIS: #20 Taylor Nawrocki (Jr., RHP, Fairmont, Minn.) 1-1, 5.25 ERA, 13 SO, 20 BB, 4 GS, 24.0 IP
Sunday, March 25 • 1 p.m. ET PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #31 Tyler Skulina (So., RHP, Strongsville, Ohio) 2-2, 3.62 ERA, 29 SO, 14 BB, 5 GS, 27.1 IP
NORTHERN ILLINOIS: #35 Tony Manville (R-Sr., RHP, New Lenox, Ill.) 1-3, 6.32 ERA, 9 SO, 5 BB, 5 GS, 31.1 IP
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION - NORTHERN ILLINOIS HUSKIES (5-16) • Mid-American Conference
Head Coach: Ed Mathey - 10th Season All-Time Series: Kent State leads, 25-16-1.
• After losing 11 straight games to open the 2012 season, the Huskies ride a three-game winning streak into this weekend's series -- including an 8-6 victory over UIC Tuesday (March 20) in its home opener at Ralph McKinzie Field. • The Flashes and Huskies square off for the first time since a 2009 series (April 3-5) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium, a three-game sweep for Kent State in which the Blue & Gold outscored Northern Illinois 42-21 -- including a 20-9 romp in the Saturday contest. Then-freshman second baseman Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) hit .500 with five hits and seven runs scored while then-freshman left-handed pitcher David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) struck out two in an inning of relief work in the 13-9 Sunday (April 5) victory. Kent State has won six straight over Northern Illinois.
• Senior infielder Alex Jones leads Northern Illinois at the plate with a .333 clip, posting a team-high 25 hits -- including nine doubles -- while driving in a team-high 13 runs in 19 games.
After playing its first 18 games of the season away from the friendly confines, the Kent State baseball team entertains Northern Illinois in its Mid-American Conference opening series and home slate lid lifter this weekend (March 23-25) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
The Golden Flashes (8-10) are coming off a five-game California road trip in which they finished with a 1-4 mark and enter this weekend's series against Northern Illinois having lost four straight and six of their last seven. Kent State blanked Pepperdine, 2-0, in the series opener last Friday (March 16) but lost the series, 2-1, after the Waves responded with a 10-4 win Sunday (March 18) and a 6-4 victory Monday (March 19). The Golden Flashes then headed north to Fresno State, falling 14-2 in the opening game (March 20) and dropping a 5-2 decision in the following day.
IT'S A FACT: CLASS OF THE MAC
As Kent State begins its 60th season of MAC play in baseball, it's not a stretch to boast that the Golden Flashes are the conference's premier program.
With an all-time conference record of 634-524-2 (.547 winning percentage), Kent State has won 11 MAC Regular Season championships (1964, '92, '93, '94, '96, 2000, '03, '06, '08, '11) and 10 MAC Tournament titles ('92, '93, '01, '02, '04, '07, '09, '10, '11) and has won at least 16 conference games 24 times in the last 27 seasons. Under eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin, the Golden Flashes have captured six straight MAC titles -- including three straight tournament crowns and four in the last five years. After posting an 21-5 MAC record winning both the regular season and tournament title in '11, Kent State was tabbed to win both championships again this season in the preseason coaches poll.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Every baseball program in America will talk of the benefits of playing at home, but in its first seven seasons as Kent State's yard, Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium has truly been a home-field advantage for the good guys and a house of horrors for the opposition.
The Golden Flashes claim a 110-37 mark at Schoonover for a winning percentage of .748. Kent State is 4-3 in home openers at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium -- including a 1-0 win over Toledo last year (March 25) in which redshirt left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Chafin hurled a complete-game four-hit shutout and tallied 15 strikeouts with no walks.
KENT STATE BASEBALL AT OLGA A. MURAL FIELD AT SCHOONOVER STADIUM
2006: 17-5 (MAC Regular Season Champions)
2007: 17-5 (MAC Tournament Champions, NCAA Columbia Regional)
2008: 16-4 (MAC Regular Season Champions)
2009: 18-5 (MAC Tournament Champions, NCAA Tempe Regional)
2010: 13-6 MAC Tournament Champions, NCAA Los Angeles Regional)
2011: 18-3 (MAC Regular Season & Tournament Champions, NCAA Austin Regional)
WE'VE GOT AN ACE UP OUR SLEEVES
Senior ace southpaw David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) struck out five in seven innings of work and retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced in last Friday's victory at Pepperdine to improve to 3-2 on the season. He is now 21-8 in his career and is tied with Joe Skodny (1982-85) for the eighth-most career pitching victories in Kent State history. Starn is six victories away from breaking the school record of 26 set by Pat Bangston (1984-87). The 2012 Louisville Slugger Third Team All-America selection upped his career strikeout total to 251 and is 24 away from breaking the Kent State record of 274 set by Dirk Hayhurst (2000-03). Friday's contest marked the third time this season Starn pitched at least seven frames and 15th time in his career. His 255 career innings pitched rank fourth in school history.
Kent State rode the arm of Starn to blank No. 9 Georgia Tech, 5-0, to lift the lid off of the 2012 season in grand fashion in the opening game of the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic on Feb. 17. He twirled eight shutout innings and tallied nine strikeouts while scattering just four hits and walking only two on 104 pitches en route to being named Mid-American Conference East Division Pitcher of the Week.
Starn will be making his first start in a home opener on Friday and is 4-2 in 19 career appearances at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. He is 10-2 in conference play with 115 strikeouts.
THE THREE FLASHKETEERS
Redshirt junior infielder Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio), junior outfielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) and junior infielder George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) combine to make up arguably the best trio of roommates in NCAA baseball.
Hamilton leads the Flashes with a .541 batting average. He led Kent State with a staggering .700 batting average, seven hits and five RBIs in the weekend series (March 3-4) at Western Kentucky. Hamilton missed the last five games with an abdominal strain.
Campbell leads Kent State with 28 hits and 15 runs scored and ranks second with a .412 batting average. He was named MAC East Division Player of the Week after he batted .500 with seven hits and drove in six runs to help Kent State win the weekend series at Lipscomb, 2-1. Campbell powered Kent State to the victory at New Mexico State last Friday, matched his career high for hits in a single game with five. He also collected five hits on May 14, 2011, to help push the Flashes to an 8-0 win at Bowling Green. Campbell is tied with Roberts and senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) with a team-high eight multi-hit games in 2012.
Roberts leads the Flashes with 14 RBIs and ranks third on the team with 23 hits and a .333 batting average. After beginning the 2011 campaign mired in an 0-for-23 slump, Roberts got his 2012 campaign off to a strong start, batting a team-best .538 with a team-high .692 slugging percentage, seven hits, two doubles and three RBIs in the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic. Roberts posted multiple hits in each contest, including going 3-for-5 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored to power Kent State's bats in the season-opening victory over the ninth-ranked Yellow Jackets on Feb. 17.
RIDER KEEPS ON TRUCKING
Senior shortstop and team co-captain Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) is as steady as they come, displaying his veteran savvy at the plate as well as his knack for making the extraordinary defensive plays look routine at shortstop.
Rider leads the Flashes with 11 doubles while ranking second in hits (23) and RBIs (11) and fourth with a .333 batting average. He was red hot on the California road trip, batting a team-high .476 with 10 hits -- including five doubles. He has posted eight multi-hit games this season and 86 over the course of his four-year career. Defensively, he is Kent State's career assists leader with 598.
One of Kent State's biggest question marks heading into the season was how a young and relatively inexperienced bullpen would grow and mature while being tasked with trying to replace two of the greatest relievers in school history in right handers Kyle McMillen and Justin Gill.
Junior righty Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) has answered the call so far. Kent State's 'fireman' has allowed just one earned run in seven appearances and has given up just four hits and a walk while striking out eight. He picked up his first save of the season and fourth of his career after striking out a career-high five batters over the final two innings to close out the 7-4 triumph on March 9 at New Mexico State.
Thirty NCAA baseball student-athletes who excel both on and off the field were selected as candidates for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. Among the elite? Kent State senior co-captain and catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.).
To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. The complete list of candidates follows this release.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The 30 candidates will be narrowed to 10 finalists midway through the regular season, and those 10 names will be placed on the official ballot. Ballots will be distributed through a nationwide voting system to media, Division I head coaches and fans who will select one finalist who best exemplifies excellence in the four Cs of community, classroom, character and competition.
Lyon put together a career season last year, posting a career-best .315 batting average, .384 on base percentage and .538 slugging percentage with a career-high 75 hits, 36 runs, seven triples (most on the team, second in the MAC; tied with Matt Rundels, 1991 for most in a single season in school history), nine home runs, 27 walks, 53 RBIs and 128 total bases (third on the team, fourth in the MAC). He also led Kent State with 404 putouts, the eighth most in a single season in school history. He earned 2011 ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Mideast Region Second Team and Second Team All-MAC honors for his efforts. He earned All-NCAA Championship Austin Regional honors after he produced perhaps the most memorable hit in Kent State history to help down then-No. 5 Texas, 7-5, on its home field as the Golden Flashes earned their first regional final berth since 2001. Trailing 2-1 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, Lyon sent a 1-2 pitch sailing over the left field wall and into the Kent State bullpen to give the Golden Flashes a 5-2 lead with his second career grand slam. Lyon was named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team under Stricklin, who served as an assistant coach for the squad and helped the USA win three of five games against Japan.
Lyon collected four hits in last weekend's action -- including the 15th round tripper of his career with a leadoff homer to open the sixth inning to help push the Flashes to an 11-3 win Saturday over host Winthrop.
Check out Lyon's Lowe's Senior CLASS profile here.