Clark's career-high 12 strikeouts not enough for Golden Flashes as Rockets battle back to win game in 12th.
KENT, Ohio – A spectacular start on the mound by redshirt sophomore left-handed pitcher Michael Clark (Akron, Ohio) was spoiled by a late rally by Toledo that led to a 4-3 12-inning triumph over Kent State baseball Tuesday (March 27) in non-conference action at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
"Michael was outstanding and he deserved to win," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We just couldn't get anything done offensively. You have to tip your hat to Toledo."
The Golden Flashes (11-11) dropped their first home contest of the season with the loss to the Rockets (11-12) and came out on the wrong side of their first extra innings affair since pulling out a 4-2 win over Texas State on June 3, 2011, in the opening game of the 2011 NCAA Championship Austin Regional in Austin, Texas.
Clark was masterful in his first home start for the Blue & Gold, striking out 11 and retiring 15 of the first 17 batters he faced through five innings. In the meantime, Kent State's offense built a 2-0 advantage with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth. Senior designated hitter David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) cracked a leadoff single to left and advanced to second on a fielding error by Toledo junior left fielder Andy Mix. Sophomore designated hitter T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) moved Lyon to third one out later with a base hit to right. That set the table for freshman second baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) to lift a sacrifice fly to right to allow Lyon to tag up and score the game's first run. Redshirt junior third baseman Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio) followed with a single to right, and freshman catcher Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio) plated Sutton with a base hit to left to make it 2-0 in favor of Kent State.
Toledo answered back by chasing Clark from the contest by loading the bases with three walks in the sixth. Freshman third baseman Anthony Smith bumped home senior right fielder Jeff Cola and cut Kent State's advantage to one run.
The Flashes responded with another run in the home half as Sutton put a one-out single into center and scored by way of a double to left by Hamilton to up Kent State's lead to 3-1.
Toledo pulled to within one again in the seventh when senior second baseman Joe Corfman cracked a two-out double to left and then scored on a double to left center by junior center fielder Ben Hammer.
Freshman southpaw Tim Faix (Strongsville, Ohio) and redshirt freshman righty Josh Pierce (Avon, Ohio) were able to keep Toledo's bats in check over the seventh and eighth frames. Kent State called upon junior right-handed closer Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) to close the game out in the ninth, but the Rockets had other plans. Junior pinch hitter Matt Delewski hit a one-out single through the right side, then was replaced on the bases by sophomore pinch runner Zack Michael. Michael reached second on a wild pitch, setting the stage for Hammer to drive in the game tying RBI single to left.
Kent State loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th but came away empty handed.
Toledo capitalized on a base runner in the 12th to score the game's winning run. Hammer hit a leadoff single through the right side, swiped second and advanced to third on a ground out by senior first baseman Mark Lapikas. Sophomore catcher James Miglin hit a sacrifice fly to center to allow Hammer to tag up and score.
Kent State did not take advantage of a one-out triple to left center by Lyon in the home half, and Toledo secured the victory.
Redshirt freshman right-handed reliever Eric Dorsch (Gibsonia, Pa.) was tagged with the pitching defeat for Kent State, falling to 0-1 on the season. Clark finished with a career-high 12 strikeouts while giving up one earned run on one hit and three walks.
Hamilton led Kent State's offense with a double, two singles and an RBI. Lyon added a triple and a single, and Sutton and senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) tallied two base hits apiece.
Hammer led Toledo's bats with a double, two singles, two RBIs and a run scored.
Kent State looks return to its winning ways Wednesday (March 28) as it travels to the Steel City to meet Pittsburgh. First pitch is set for 3 p.m.