Kent State Baseball Sweeps MAC East Division Weekly Awards
Rider garners Player of the Week accolades after breaking school's hits record while Skulina earns second Pitcher of the Week honors of the 2012 season.
CLEVELAND – Kent State senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) has been named the Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week while sophomore right-handed starting pitcher Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) garnered Pitcher of the Week accolades, as announced by the conference office Monday (April 30).
The duo helped the Golden Flashes (27-17, 15-3 MAC) win their fifth conference series of the 2012 season in six tries with a three-game sweep of MAC West foe Western Michigan last weekend (April 27-29) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium. Kent State posted its third MAC series sweep of the season. The Flashes rumbled to a 16-5 win over the Broncos Friday (April 27) in the series opener of the three-game weekend set before blanking Western Michigan, 4-0, Saturday (April 28). Sunday's win marked Kent State's fifth straight MAC triumph. The Golden Flashes have won 19 of their last 26 games – including eight of their last 10. Kent State went 11-1 against the MAC West Division in 2012 – the best interdivision record in program history. The weekend series win allowed Kent State to maintain its hold on first place in the race for the conference's regular season championship and number one seed in the 2012 MAC Tournament, which will be held May 23-26 all All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.
Rider cracked a two-out, two-RBI double to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to help the Kent State blank Western Michigan Saturday (April 28) and establish himself as the school's new all-time hits king. Rider's historic hit highlighted a week in which the senior co-captain batted a team-best .571 with a team-high 12 hits and five RBIs – including matching his career best with a 5-for-5 effort at the plate in a 6-4 non-conference loss to Penn State Wednesday (April 25) at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Rider's two hits Saturday broke the previous school standard of 113 held by Andrew Davis (2004-07) and broke the backs of Western Michigan as his base knocks drove in three of Kent State's four runs. His RBI double in the eighth extended his team lead to 21 on the season. Rider added two more hits to his total in Kent State's dominating Sunday series finale victory over the Broncos, bringing his career total to 316. Rider is one of five players in Kent State history to collect 300-plus hits, joining Davis, Ben Klafczynski (312; 2008-11), Jess Bechard (304; 1997-00) and Anthony Gallas (302; 2007-10).
Skulina dominated for eight-plus innings to earn his team-leading sixth pitching victory as the Kent State baseball completed the weekend sweep in dominating fashion with a 7-1 triumph over Western Michigan Sunday (April 29). Skulina baffled the Broncos over 8.1 innings – the deepest outing of his career – and carried a shutout into the ninth. He struck out six while giving up one earned run on six hits and a walk and improved to 6-2 on the season. Skulina did not allow a runner to advance past first base until Western Michigan junior first baseman Patrick Duncan hit a one-out RBI double to left field in the top of the ninth inning.
The weekly conference honors increase Kent State's season total to five. Skulina was also named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week on March 12.
Kent State takes a break from game action for the next four days for finals week but heads to Athens, Ohio, for a key MAC East Division showdown against second-place Ohio next weekend (May 4-6).
2012 Kent State Baseball MAC Weekly Award Winners
Week 11 (April 30) – Jimmy Rider, Player of the Week & Tyler Skulina, Pitcher of the Week