Kent State Baseball Can’t Protect Late Lead For Second Game In A Row, Loses MAC Series At Bowling Green
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – It was déjà vu all over again for the Kent State baseball team, but, unfortunately, not in a good way.
Kent State committed four errors in the field that led to six unearned runs and could not protect a one-run edge in the eighth inning as Bowling Green took the Mid-American Conference East Division weekend series with a 9-6 come-from-behind win in the second contest of the three-game set Saturday (April 14) at Steller Field.
The Golden Flashes (19-15, 9-2 MAC) lost a MAC series for the first time in 2012 after defensive mistakes allowed the Falcons (14-20, 4-7 MAC) to put together a late-game charge for the second game in a row. Kent State dropped the series opener, 6-5, to Bowling Green in 14 innings Friday (April 13). Eleven of Kent State's last 13 games have been decided by three runs or less.
"When you play sloppy baseball, you're not going to get good results," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We haven't played great baseball all season long, and it's coming back to haunt us right now. We need to come out of here with some kind of momentum and play good baseball on Sunday. "
For the second game in a row, the Flashes jumped ahead to an early 2-0 lead. Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) drew a one-out walk, scampered 90 feet to second base on a wild pitch and scored on a base hit down the right field line by senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) in the top of the first. Kent State plated its second run in the ensuing frame when freshman second baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) coaxed a leadoff walk, moved to second on a wild pitch one out later, then to third on a ground out by freshman left fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) and scored on an error by Bowling Green redshirt freshman shortstop Brandon Howard.
The Falcons struck back in the home half of the second to knot the game at two-all. Sophomore right fielder Patrick Lancaster got things started when he reached on an error by Kent State freshman first baseman Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio). Sophomore catcher T.J. Losby followed by reaching on another error by Monnot. That set up an RBI single to center by junior designated hitter Matthew Pitzulo that brought home Lancaster. Losby moved up to third on a fielder's choice that put Howard on, then tied the game when he scored on a fielder's choice and an error at second by Polen that put freshman second baseman Brian Bien on.
Kent State broke the tie in the top of the fourth when sophomore right fielder T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) placed a one-out single into left, advanced to second on a fielder's choice and another error by Howard that put Miklos on, moved up to third on a single to center by freshman designated hitter Jeff Revesz (Grove City, Pa.) and then scored when junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) served up a sacrifice fly up to center.
Neither team could get anything going offensively in the fifth and sixth innings, but Bowling Green took its first lead of the contest courtesy of a three-run output in the bottom of the seventh Bien struck out swinging but was able to reach first base on a wild pitch. Sophomore center fielder Jake Thomas followed by stroking a single to right, moving Bien up to third. Bien tagged up and scored courtesy of a sacrifice fly to left by sophomore third baseman Logan Walker to tie the contest at three-all. Sophomore left fielder Andrew Kubuski was hit by a pitch, and redshirt sophomore first baseman Andrew Kuns followed by drawing a walk to load the bases for Lancaster, who took advantage by smacking a single back up the middle to plate Thomas and Kubuski and make it a 5-3 affair in favor of Bowling Green.
Kent State retaliated with three runs of its own in the top of the eighth to take a 6-5 edge over the Falcons. Miklos reached second on an error by Walker at third to lead off the frame and then scored on a single to right by Revesz. Revesz was replaced on the bases by redshirt sophomore Troy Summers (Minerva, Ohio), and that set the table for Campbell to crush a two-run home run to right center to give the Golden Flashes the lead.
Unfortunately for Kent State, Bowling Green refused to be deterred by its counter punches and captured some two-out lightning thanks to a Kent State error that led to four unearned runs in the home half of the eighth. Bien and Thomas coaxed back-to-back walks, and Walker was hit by a pitch to load the bases for the Falcons. The Falcons then scored three runs on an error by Kent State redshirt sophomore left-handed reliever Michael Clark (Akron, Ohio) that put Kubuski on and gave Bowling Green an 8-6 lead. The Falcons scored a final insurance run when Kubuski scampered home on a wild pitch.
A day after picking up his first pitching victory of the season in relief, lefty Patrick Martin nailed down his first save of the season by retiring Kent State in order in the top of the ninth to seal the win for the Falcons. Freshman right-handed reliever Jason Link picked up the mound victory, improving to 4-0 on the season.
Clark suffered the pitching defeat for the Flashes, falling to 0-4 on the season.
Kent State looks to end the weekend on a winning note as it takes on Bowling Green Sunday (April 15) in the third game of the weekend set. Sophomore right hander Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) will start the game on the mound for Kent State. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.