Kent State Baseball Pulls Out Another ‘W’ In Extras Over Ball State
Golden Flashes win weekend series over Cardinals, go for second straight MAC sweep Sunday (April 1) at 1 p.m.
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Kent State baseball team survived another do-or-die, bases-loaded scare and produced just enough timely hits to defeat Ball State in extra innings for the second day in a row, this time pulling out a 4-2 triumph in 11 innings Saturday (March 31) in Mid-American Conference interdivision action at Ball Diamond.
The Golden Flashes (13-12, 5-0 MAC) won the series over the Cardinals (4-18, 1-4 MAC) after taking the Friday (March 30) opener, 7-4, in 10 innings. Kent State is 2-1 in extra innings games in 2012 and played its third extra innings affair in four games after falling to Toledo, 4-3, Tuesday (March 27) in midweek non-conference action at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
"We played a little bit better today," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "The bullpen stepped up and some guys stepped up offensively today. We hit a lot of line drives at people. We need to score some more runs, but I think that will come."
Kent State landed the game's first punch in the top of the third inning when junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) cracked a one-out single to center and senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) followed by smashing his second home run in as many days, this one a two-run shot over the left field wall to put the Flashes up 2-0.
"Jimmy has hit the ball pretty well all year long," said Stricklin. "He had gone into a little bit of a funk coming into this weekend. He spent a little extra time in the cage, and I think it's showing up."
Junior right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Bores (Strongsville, Ohio) put together another solid outing, sitting down the side three times and finishing the contest with eight strikeouts.
Ball State put a dent in Kent State's lead in the eighth as junior center fielder Wes Winkle smacked an infield single back to the mound, went to second on a base hit through the left side by sophomore right-handed starting pitcher T.J. Weir and scored on a base hit to right center by sophomore first baseman Cody Campbell.
Bores went back out to the mound for the ninth inning to try to finish out a complete-game effort, but Ball State sophomore right fielder Sean Godfrey had other ideas, crushing the first pitch of the home half of the frame over the left field wall to tie the contest and send the game to extras.
"Ryan Bores was outstanding," said Stricklin. "He made one bad pitch the entire game, and unfortunately, it took the win away from him."
Ball State junior left-handed relief pitcher Jon Cisna, who came on to spell Weir in the seventh, continued to riddle Kent State's hitters in the 10th, working around a two-out walk by senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) to sit down the side.
The Cardinals put the heat on Kent State's pitching and defense in the bottom half in a do-or-die situation for the Golden Flashes for the second game in a row. Redshirt freshman righty Eric Dorsch (Gibsonia, Pa.) came on to relieve Bores, but Winkle got the ball rolling for the Cardinals with a leadoff single to right center. Senior second baseman Mitch Widau laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Winkle up to second. Kent State then opted to intentionally walk Weir to set up a potential double play scenario, but Dorsch hit Campbell with a pitch to fill the bases for junior left fielder Blake Beemer. The Golden Flashes tapped into their bullpen again, this time calling upon freshman southpaw Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio). For the second straight game, though, the Cardinals failed to execute a squeeze play and Winkle was put out trying to steal home for the second out. Clark forced Beemer to ground out to put out the fire and keep Kent State's hopes of a win alive.
"We were prepared for the squeeze play, but I was surprised that they did it," said Stricklin. "We executed defensively in the most crucial part of the game."
The Flashes built on that momentum in the 11th. Ball State dipped into its bullpen again and called upon sophomore lefty Devin Wilburn. Fifth-year senior left fielder Joe Koch (Austintown, Ohio) legged out an infield single and raced to second on an errant attempt to throw him out at first by Ball State freshman shortstop Elbert Devarie. Koch scampered to second on a wild pitch, and freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) and redshirt sophomore right fielder Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio) followed by coaxing back-to-back walks. That set up sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) to place a single into center to score Koch and put Kent State back in front, 3-2. Campbell tacked on one more insurance run when he lifted a sacrifice fly to center to allow Polen to tag up and score.
Clark sealed the win in the home half, shrugging off a walk by Godfrey to force sophomore catcher Mitch Overley to ground into a 6-4-3 double play and then striking out redshirt junior pinch hitter Dominick Catanzarite to end the game.
"It was great to see Brian respond," said Stricklin. "He's only a freshman, and it's going to be exciting to see what's in front of him."
Clark earned the pitching victory for Kent State, working 1.2 relief innings to improve to 2-0 on the season. Toadvine led Kent State at the plate with two singles.
Wilburn was tagged with the loss for Ball State, giving up two earned runs on two hits and two walks in an inning of relief. Weir fanned four but allowed two earned runs on seven hits and a walk in 7.1 innings. Cisna throw 2.2 scoreless frames, striking out three and walking three.
Kent State shoots for its second straight MAC series sweep to open 2012 conference play as it battles Ball State in game three of the weekend set Sunday (April 1). Sophomore righty Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) makes his seventh start on the hill of the season for Kent State. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.