Starn Reaches 300 Career Strikeouts As Kent State Baseball Rumbles To Victory Over Western Michigan
Golden Flashes have now won three straight MAC contests and 17 of last 24 games.
KENT, Ohio – Senior southpaw ace David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) struck out five over seven innings to up his career total to 300, and five batters achieved multi-hit game games and nine earned RBIs as the Kent State baseball team rolled to a 16-5 win over interdivision foe Western Michigan Friday (April 27) in the Mid-American Conference weekend series opener at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
The Golden Flashes (25-17, 13-3 MAC) recorded their third straight MAC triumph with the victory over the Broncos (17-21, 7-8 MAC) and have won 17 of their last 24 games.
"We were locked in offensively," said eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin. "We got some big hits and had some great at-bats early in the game to force their number one starting pitcher to have a high pitch count. David Starn was outstanding after shaking off a slow start."
After surrendering four runs on five hits over the first three innings, Starn settled in and gave up just two singles over his final four innings of work. Starn stands alone in Kent State history as the program's only pitcher to ever reach the 300-strikeout mark. He earned the mound victory to improve to 5-3 on the season. Starn allowed four runs – two earned – on seven hits while putting together his deepest start since tossing seven innings in a 4-2 victory over Northern Illinois on March 23.
"He started to throw his fastball more," said Stricklin of Starn's adjustment to a slow start. "They did a good job of sitting on his off-speed stuff, and he made the decision to start throwing more fastballs."
Junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) crushed his fifth home run of the season and eighth of his career to go along with a single and three runs scored. Sophomore right fielder T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) hit his third career round tripper – a two-run shot – and added a single. Junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) hit a triple and a single, drove in three runs and scored two more. Freshman left fielder Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) posted a double and a single and contributed two RBIs while freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) added a triple and a single, drove in a run and scored another. Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) collected his team-leading 20th double of the season and is now two hits away from breaking the school's career record, currently held by Andrew Davis (2004-07).
"We made some big hits up and down the order," said Stricklin. "It was good to see the bats continue to be productive."
Western Michigan landed the first punch with two runs in the top of the first inning. Redshirt senior designated hitter Zach Thoma legged out an infield single to third, then advanced to third on a fielder's choice and a throwing error by Rider that allowed senior third baseman Ryan McMillin to reach safely. Both Thoma and McMillin scored by way of a double down the left field line by junior first baseman Patrick Duncan to make it 2-0 in favor of the Broncos.
The Flashes did not waste any time responding to the challenge, though. Campbell singled through the right side to lead off the home half of the first, and Rider followed with a double to left. Senior catcher and 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) coaxed a walk to fill the bases. Roberts capitalized with a two-RBI single to right to plate Campbell and Rider and tie the game. Miklos gave Kent State a 4-2 lead one out later by driving home Lyon and Roberts with a double to right center.
Kent State made it a four-run ballgame with two more scores in the second. Polen led off the frame with a single back up the middle. Sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) followed by drawing a walk. Toadvine was knocked off the bases on a fielder's choice that allowed Campbell to reach, but Polen scored on the play thanks to a throwing error by Western Michigan freshman shortstop Andrew Sohn. Campbell, who advanced to second on Sohn's error, moved to third on an errant pickoff attempt by Western Michigan senior left-handed starting pitcher Casey Webber. Campbell increased Kent State's lead to 6-2 when he scored on an RBI ground out to second by Rider.
The Broncos got two runs back in the top of the third to make it a 6-4 affair. Sophomore left fielder Vinnie Booker smacked a leadoff double down the left field line and scored, moved up to third on a sacrifice bunt by Thoma and scored on a double to right by senior right fielder Jack Scanlon, who scored one out later on a two bagger to right center by Duncan.
Kent State was undeterred by Western Michigan's comeback efforts, though. Rider coaxed a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out to second by Lyon, then scored when Roberts served up a sacrifice fly to right.
Kent State broke the contest open with three runs more runs in the ensuing frame to increase its lead to 10-4. Sutton drove a one-out single through the right side and scored when Polen crushed a triple to center, chasing Webber from the game. Polen moved scored on a passed ball one later, and Campbell made it a three-run frame when he hit a solo shot to right off of Western Michigan freshman right-handed reliever Nick Bradley.
The Golden Flashes continued to increase the gap with three more scores in the seventh. Roberts nearly hit a one-out, inside-the-park home run but settled for a triple. Western Michigan tapped into its bullpen again, this time calling upon junior righty Chris Bossenberry. Roberts then scored on a passed ball to make it 11-4. Redshirt junior designated hitter Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio) drew a walk to set the table for a two-run homer to right by Sutton one out later.
Kent State plated its final three runs in the eighth. Toadvine got the inning started with a single to center, then scored on a pinch-hit double to left by fifth-year senior Joe Koch (Austintown, Ohio). Koch advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on a pinch-hit double to right center by freshman Jeff Revesz (Grove City, Pa.), chasing Bossenberry from the mound in favor of freshman lefty Matt Nestor. Junior pinch hitter Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) drove in Kent State's 16th run one out later with a single to right center that allowed Revesz to score.
Western Michigan got an unearned run back in the top of the ninth, but Kent State junior righty Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) did his job of shutting the Broncos down over the final two frames to seal the deal.
Webber was tagged with the pitching loss for Western Michigan, falling to 2-4 on the season. He fanned five in 5.1 innings but allowed nine runs – seven earned – on eight hits and three walks.
Duncan led the Broncos at the plate with a double and a single to go along with three RBIs.
Kent State aims for its fifth MAC series win in six tries Saturday (April 28) as it battles Western Michigan in the second contest of the three-game weekend set. Junior righty Ryan Bores (Strongsville, Ohio) makes his 11th start on the hill of the 2012 season for the Flashes. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.