Kent State Baseball Runs Away With Series Sweep Of Ball State
Golden Flashes set season highs in runs and hits and maintain grip on first place in the MAC East Division.
MUNCIE, Ind. – The Kent State baseball team achieved new season highs in runs and hits and completed a Mid-American Conference weekend series sweep by running away with an 18-2 victory in game three over interdivision foe Ball State Sunday (April 1) at Ball Diamond.
The Golden Flashes (14-12, 6-0 MAC) maintained their grip on first place in the MAC East Division and hold a three-game lead in the race for the crown. The sweep of the Cardinals (4-19, 1-5 MAC) marked Kent State's second in as many tries in conference play in 2012.
"I felt like, offensively, we were getting closer to where we need to be, and today was a really good day to hit," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "The wind was blowing out, and it was good conditions for an offensive game. We had some really good at-bats early and put some runs on the board."
Four Golden Flashes finished with multi-hit games and six posted multi-RBI games as the Flashes scored a season-high 18 runs and pounded out a season-high 18 hits. Sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) led the way with a double and three singles to match his career high of four hits and go along with two RBIs and two runs scored. Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) smashed his third home run in as many games, added a double and a single and drove in five runs. Toadvine finished the series batting .533 with a team-high eight hits and drove in four runs while Rider batted .385 with five hits and a team-high eight RBIs and six runs scored. Junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) crushed his second round tripper of the season and posted a double, a single, three RBIs and three runs scored. Freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) hit a double and a single and scored two runs. He hit .545 for the series, collected six hits and scored four runs.
"I struggled in the midweek games, so I wanted to get out there and get into a good flow this weekend," said Rider. "I was just trying to see the ball and square up, and it seemed to work out pretty well."
Junior right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) worked 6.2 innings and improved to 3-2 on the season in earning the mound victory for Kent State. He struck out six and sat the Cardinals down in order in three frames. Redshirt freshman righty Josh Pierce (Avon, Ohio) tossed 2.1 perfect innings and struck out two. The duo combined to limit Ball State to just seven hits – just one of which went for extra bases.
Kent State jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first when Campbell led off with a base hit to left. Rider and senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) followed by coaxing back-to-back walks to fill the bases for the Flashes. Junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) gave Kent State a 1-0 lead by lifting a sacrifice fly to left to allow Campbell to tag up and score.
After Skulina retired Ball State in order in the home half of the first, the Golden Flashes expanded on their lead with a three-run second. Freshman left fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) reached on an error by Ball State sophomore third baseman Kevin Schlotter. Toadvine followed by legging out a bunt single, and Campebell moved he and Miklos up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt. Rider plated Kent State's second run by smacking a single through the left side to score Miklos and chase Ball State junior southpaw starter Miles Moeller from the contest. Lyon increased Kent State's lead to 3-0 by lifting a sacrifice fly right to bring Toadvine home. Roberts made it a four-run lead with a double to right center to bring around Rider.
Skulina worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, and Kent State's bats responded in the third by batting around and plating six more runs. Polen got the ball rolling with a leadoff double to left center. Redshirt sophomore right fielder Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio) put runners on the corners for the Flashes when he was able to reach first after Ball State sophomore southpaw relief pitcher Devin Wilburn failed to field his sacrifice bunt attempt. Summers then stole second, and one out later, Toadvine plated Polen with an infield single. Campbell followed by crushing a three-run home run over the right field wall to make it 8-0. The homer chased Wilburn from the contest, and Ball State replaced him on the hill with sophomore righty Jacob Brewer. Lyon reached on a fielder's choice, and Brewer walked Roberts to set up a two-run double to left center by freshman designated hitter Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio), upping Kent State's advantage to 10 runs.
The Cardinals put a dent in Kent State's lead with three runs in the home half of the Rider, but Kent State tacked three more on in the fourth. Miklos was hit by a pitch with one out, and Campbell picked up his third hit of the day with a base hit to left. That set the table for Rider to smack a three-run homer to left center to make it 13-2, his third round tripper in as many days at Ball Diamond.
Kent State added on three more runs in the fifth. Monnot drew a leadoff walk, and Polen followed by coaxing a base on balls. Monnot scored one out later on a fielding error by Ball State senior second baseman Mitch Widau that put Miklos on. Toadvine singled home Polen with a hit up the middle. Campbell was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Rider took advantage by lifting a sac fly to center to plate Miklos and make it 16-2.
The Flashes tacked on their final two runs in the eighth as Rider cracked a one-out double to right center and scored when junior Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) drove him home on a pinch-hit, two-run homer over the left field wall, his second dinger in four games.
Kent State looks to keep its winning ways going and improve to 4-1 at home on the season when it welcomes Penn State to Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium Tuesday (April 3). First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.