Kent State Baseball Battles Back But Can’t Complete Comeback At Pittsburgh
Golden Flashes resume MAC play this weekend (March 30-April 1), visiting Muncie, Ind., to take on Ball State in their first conference road series of 2012.
PITTSBURGH – The Kent State baseball team battled back from a 6-1 deficit after three innings to pull within one and load the bases in the top of the ninth but could not quite complete the comeback, falling to Pittsburgh, 6-5, Wednesday (March 28) in non-conference action at Charles L. Cost Field.
The Golden Flashes (11-12) dropped their second straight one-run game after falling to Toledo, 4-3, in 12 innings Tuesday (March 27) The Panthers (11-11) put halt to a 10-game losing streak at the hands of the Flashes.
Pitt jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Senior left fielder Anthony DeFabio got things started by drawing a one-out walk, and senior first baseman Rick Devereaux followed by driving him home with a triple to right center. Sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Casey Roche put runners on the corners for the Panthers by coaxing a one-out walk. Freshman right fielder Boo Vazquez drove a single through the right side to bring in Devereaux and make it 2-0. Junior third baseman Sam Parente plated Pittsburgh's third run with a double to right center to score Roche.
Kent State put a dent in Pittsburgh's lead in the third when redshirt sophomore left fielder Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio) legged out an infield single to second. Sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) followed with a double to left center, and junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) allowed Summers to tag up and race home by serving up a sacrifice fly to left.
The Panthers answered back with a three-run home half as Parente and junior second baseman Ronald Sucre smacked back-to-back one-out singles to set the table for a three-run blast over the right field wall by freshman catcher Elvin Soto to increase Pitt's lead to 6-1.
Kent State's bullpen limited the Panthers to just one more hit and four base runners the rest of the way while its offense tallied runs in four of the final six frames to creep to within one run. Redshirt freshman right hander Dan Kopcak (Streetsboro, Ohio) came on in relief of right-handed starting pitcher Dan Slavik (St. Clairsville, Ohio) and tossed 3.1 shutout innings and fanned four. Freshman southpaw Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio) and junior righty George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) followed by tossing scoreless frames of their own to keep Pitt's bats at bay.
Kent State's comeback bid began in the fourth when senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) slapped a leadoff double to right center and scored on a double to center by freshman first baseman Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio).
The Flashes made it a three-run affair in the fifth as Toadvine drew a one-out walk and scored on a double down the right field line by Campbell.
Toadvine cut Pittsburgh's edge to two runs in the seventh when he legged out a one-out bunt single, moved to third on another double down the right field line by Campbell and scored when senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) placed a sacrifice fly into center.
Junior designated hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) pulled Kent State within a run by smashing a leadoff home run over the right field wall, his first round tripper of the 2012 season.
The Flashes put the heat on Pittsburgh freshman closer Tanner Wilt in the ninth as Toadvine hit a leadoff base hit through the left side, Rider smacked a one-out single to left and Bagoly drew a walk to juice the bases for redshirt junior third baseman Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio). Hamilton gave Wilt's final pitch a ride that pushed Vazquez back to the warning track in right but just missed sailing over the wall for a grand slam by a couple of feet.
Toadvine led Kent State at the plate with a three-for-three effort with two runs scored while Campbell and Monnot each finished with two hits.
Slavik was saddled with the mound defeat for the Golden Flashes, falling to 0-1 on the season.
Kent State resumes MAC play this weekend (March 30-April 1), visiting Muncie, Ind., to take on Ball State in its first conference road series of 2012.