Kent State Baseball Bounces Back At Central Michigan To Even MAC Weekend Series
Mace solid in season-long 6.2 inning spot start while Rider, Lyon and Toadvine lead the offense with multi-hit efforts.
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – Senior right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Mace (Tallmadge, Ohio) put together his best start of the 2012 season, and senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.), senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) and sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) put together big days at the plate to help push the Kent State baseball team to a 6-3 victory over Central Michigan Saturday (April 21) in the second game of the three-game Mid-American Conference weekend set between the programs at Theunissen Stadium.
The Golden Flashes (22-16, 11-3 MAC) have won 14 of their last 20 games and maintained their grip on first place in the race for the conference's regular season crown with the victory over the Chippewas (17-23, 7-7 MAC). Kent State evened the weekend series courtesy of the win, bouncing back from a 3-0 loss to Central Michigan Friday April 20).
"Central Michigan is a really good team," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "It's always a challenge to win against them, period, but to have the chance to win the series against them on the road is huge."
Mace put together his best start of the season for Kent State, fanning four over a season-long 6.2 frames while limiting Central Michigan to one earned run on eight hits and three walks to improve to 2-3 on the season.
"Ryan really stepped up, taking the spot of (junior right-handed starting pitcher) Ryan Bores (Strongsville, Ohio), who we gave the day off to get a little bit of rest. Ryan was really big for us, getting out of a jam in the second inning, then settling in and pitching really well."
Rider led Kent State's offense with a double and two singles, three runs scored, an RBI and a walk. Lyon and Toadvine each tallied a double, a single and an RBI.
The Flashes landed the first punch in the top of the first inning. Rider cracked a one-out single back to the mound, advanced to second on a balk and scored one out later on a double to right center by junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.).
Central Michigan got on the board in the home half of the second to tie the contest at one-all. Junior catcher Jordan Arnold led the frame off with a single to left, and senior first baseman Nate Theunissen followed with a double to right. Senior left fielder Sam Russell loaded the bases for the Chippewas by coaxing a walk, but Mace buckled down to limit the damage. After Mace struck out junior designated hitter Jordan Arnold, Central Michigan tied the game on an RBI single to center by freshman third baseman Joey Houlihan. That's all Central Michigan got, though, as Roberts made a spectacular grab to rob redshirt freshman second baseman Pat MacKenzie of a line-drive single, and Mace knocked Houlihan off the bases on a fielder's choice to hold the Chippewas to just one run.
"If that shot gets by George, that's a double and maybe at least two runs," said Stricklin of Roberts' web gem. "It really shifted the momentum when we got out of that jam. It was a win for our defense."
Kent State struck back in the top of the third to take a 2-1 edge. Rider smashed a leadoff double to left center, and Lyon drove him home with a double down the right field line.
The Golden Flashes tacked on two more runs in the fourth to make it 4-1. Toadvine drew a two-out walk and scored on a double to right by junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio). Rider then plated Campbell with a base hit to left.
Kent State tacked on its fifth run in the top of the seventh as sophomore right fielder T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) reached on a fielder's choice, moved to second on a walk by freshman left fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) and scored on a double down the left field line by Toadvine.
Kent State made it a five-run affair in the eighth as Rider reached on a fielding error at short by Central Michigan junior Jordan Dean. Rider advanced to second on a walk by Lyon, then scored from third two outs later on a wild pitch.
Central Michigan got two runs back in the bottom of the eighth, but redshirt freshman left-handed reliever Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio) kept the Chippewas at bay in the bottom of the ninth to nail down the victory for Kent State and his first career save.
Kent State shoots for its fourth conference series win of the season in the Sunday (April 21) rubber match at Central Michigan. Sophomore righty Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) makes his 10th start on the hill in 2012 for the Golden Flashes. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.