Kent State Baseball Looks To Finish 2012 Regular Season Strong With Four Games In Five Days
PREVIEWING THE WEEK
vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles (24-25) • Non-Conference Game
May 15, 2012
All Pro Freight Stadium
vs. Akron Zips (17-35, 10-14 MAC)
May 17, 2012 • Sixth Annual Diamond Classic For Kids
Canal Park ($5 ADMISSION)
May 18-19, 2012
Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium (FREE ADMISSION)
Follow on Twitter @FlashesBaseball
--Tuesday, May 15 • 5 p.m. ET
PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #18 Dan Slavik (So., RHP, St. Clairsville, Ohio) 0-2, 11.37 ERA, 14 SO, 14 BB, 1 GS, 77.2 IP
Eastern Michigan: #26 Ryan Lavoie (Fr., RHP, Sterling Heights, Mich.) 4-3, 7.83 ERA, 36 SO, 20 BB, 12 GS, 19.0 IP
Thursday, May 17 • 6:30 p.m. ET
PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #37 David Starn (Sr., LHP, Hudson, Ohio) 7-3, 2.02 ERA, 96 SO, 28 BB, 13 GS, 84.2 IP
Friday, May 18 • 3 p.m. ET
PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #19 Ryan Bores (Jr., RHP, Strongsville, Ohio) 6-2, 3.32 ERA, 54 SO, 14 BB, 13 GS, 76.0 IP
Saturday, May 19 • 1 p.m. ET PROBABLE PITCHING STARTERS
KENT STATE: #31 Tyler Skulina (So., RHP, Strongsville, Ohio) 8-2, 4.14 ERA, 78 SO, 34 BB, 13 GS, 76.0 IP
The Kent State baseball team closes the book on the 2012 regular season with four games in five days this week (May 15-19), taking on fellow Mid-American Conference program Eastern Michigan Tuesday (May 15) in a non-conference, neutral site game at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio, before hosting MAC East Division rival Akron in the final conference series of the year.
The Golden Flashes (33-17, 21-3 MAC) clinched their second straight MAC regular season title and 11th in program history by sweeping division rival Miami for the first time since 2006 last weekend. Kent State blanked Miami, 3-0, Friday (May 11) in the series opener before defeating the RedHawks, 7-6, the following day to capture the 2012 MAC regular season title. Kent State closed the weekend sweep with a 10-9 triumph in the Sunday (May 13) series finale. The Flashes have won 25 of their last 32 games – including 14 of their last 16 and nine in a row.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION - EASTERN MICHIGAN EAGLES (24-25) • Mid-American Conference
Head Coach: Jay Alexander - Fourth Season
• Fourth-year head coach Jay Alexander has Eastern Michigan poised to make another MAC Tournament run in 2012. The Eagles sit in third place in the MAC West with a 14-10 mark and would be seeded fifth if the conference tournament started today. Eastern Michigan is coming off of a 2-1 interdivision series win at Buffalo. The Bulls rolled to an 18-3 victory in the Friday (May 11) series lid lifter, but the Eagles evened the score with an 11-7 win the following day and won the rubber match with a 4-3 decision.
• Kent State and Eastern Michigan are no strangers to each other. In fact, it's not a stretch to say that the Eagles have been the most common opponent for the Golden Flashes over the last two seasons. The teams have faced off 12 times since the 2010 season - six meetings each season, including three times apiece in both the 2010 and '11 MAC Tournaments. Kent State won the 2011 season series, 5-1 - including an 8-0 victory in the MAC Tournament semifinal. Redshirt sophomore starting pitcher Andrew Chafin (Wakeman, Ohio) constructed a scoreless complete-game masterpiece, fanning six and walking just two to improve to 7-1 on the season. The First Team All-MAC selection sat down the side in three frames. Then-freshman outfielder T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) batted a team-best .438 in five games against Eastern Michigan in 2011 while then-junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) hit .360 with nine hits - including two doubles. • Senior Brent Ohrman paces Eastern Michigan's offense with a .355 average with a team-high 70 hits and 35 RBIs.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION - Akron Zips (17-35, 10-14) • Mid-American Conference
Head Coach: Rick Rembielak - First Season
• First-year head coach Rick Rembielak and the Zips will be fighting for their tournament lives in the final week of the regular season. If the season ended today, Akron would be the eighth seed in the conference tournament, but the Zips are reeling a bit, having lost 10 of their last 13 games - including being swept by interdivision foe Toledo at home last weekend.
• Rembielak is, of course, no stranger to Kent State. The Cleveland native is Kent State's winningest baseball coach (373 wins; 1994-2004) and led the Flashes to four NCAA Championship Regional appearances. In June of 2004, Rembielak became the 24th head baseball coach at Wake Forest, where he spent five seasons. Prior to the 2012 season, he was a volunteer assistant coach under another former Kent State skipper - Danny Hall.
• Kent State took two of three games against Akron to close out the 2011 regular season - including a 4-3 win in the Diamond Classic on May 19 to clinch the program's first MAC regular season championship since 2008. The Golden Flashes took the series the following day with a 6-5 victory in 12 innings as then-junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) sent a 2-1 pitch over the right field wall to provide the winning margin.
SIXTH ANNUAL DIAMOND CLASSIC FOR KIDS
The rivalry between Kent State and Akron is always competitive, but the baseball teams from the two universities teamed up for several events in support of the patients of Akron Children's Hospital. The events the past two weeks are all part of the Sixth Annual Diamond Classic For Kids, held this Thursday (May 14) at Canal Park – home of Minor League Baseball's Akron Aeros - in Akron.
The 2012 Mid-American Conference champion Golden Flashes and the Zips made their annual visit to Akron Children's Hospital last Monday, May 7, to spread good cheer and offer support to the patients. Flash The Golden Eagle even made an appearance and had t-shirts and foam wings to give to the children.
After spending nearly a month raising money, the two teams met again at the hospital Monday (May 14) to present their donations to help benefit Akron Children's. That is when things got a little less hairy for both schools as members of both teams shaved their heads as a show of support for the young patients battling cancer.
The two teams will get down to business with Thursday's game, lifting the lid on the three-game Mid-American Conference series that will close out the 2012 regular season, but the support for the hospital doesn't end when the teams lock horns on the field. All gate proceeds will benefit Akron Children's. Tickets for the 6:30 p.m. contest are $5.
Eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin earned his 300th coaching victory as the Kent State baseball team downed Miami, 10-4, Sunday (May 13).
Stricklin, who has led Kent State four MAC regular season titles, four conference tournament titles and four NCAA berths, becomes the second skipper in school history to reach the 300-win milestone, joining Rick Rembielak (373 wins; 1994-2004). Stricklin lettered three seasons as a catcher at Kent State, earning All-MAC honors in 1992 and '93. He graduated magna cum laude from Kent State in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in marketing.
HOME, SWEET HOME
Every baseball program in America will talk of the benefits of playing at home, but in its first seven seasons as Kent State's yard, Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium has truly been a home-field advantage for the good guys and a house of horrors for the opposition.
The Golden Flashes claim a 125-39 mark at Schoonover for a winning percentage of .762. Kent State is 15-2 at its own yard in 2012 with two home dates remaining on the slate.
KENT STATE BASEBALL AT OLGA A. MURAL FIELD AT SCHOONOVER STADIUM
2006: 17-5 (MAC Regular Season Champions)
2007: 17-5 (MAC Tournament Champions, NCAA Columbia Regional)
2008: 16-4 (MAC Regular Season Champions)
2009: 18-5 (MAC Tournament Champions, NCAA Tempe Regional)
2010: 13-6 MAC Tournament Champions, NCAA Los Angeles Regional)
2011: 18-3 (MAC Regular Season & Tournament Champions, NCAA Austin Regional)
IT'S A FACT: CLASS OF THE MAC
As Kent State has now won its 11th conference regular season title in its 60th season of MAC play in baseball, it's not a stretch to boast that the Golden Flashes are the conference's premier program.
With an all-time conference record of 655-527-2 (.554 winning percentage), Kent State has won 11 MAC Regular Season championships (1964, '92, '93, '94, '96, 2000, '03, '06, '08, '11, '12) and 10 MAC Tournament titles ('92, '93, '01, '02, '04, '07, '09, '10, '11) and has won at least 16 conference games 25 times in the last 27 seasons. Under eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin, the Golden Flashes have captured seven straight MAC titles -- including three straight tournament crowns and four in the last five years. After posting an 21-5 MAC record winning both the regular season and tournament title in '11, Kent State was tabbed to win both championships again this season in the preseason coaches poll.
GREATEST SHOW ON DIRT
Kent State's offense is among the most prolific in the nation in 2012, ranking second in doubles (133), 12th in slugging percentage (.458), 16th in batting average (.312), 19th in runs scored (346) and 20th in scoring offense (6.9 runs per game). The Golden Flashes also lead the country in sacrifice flies (38).
SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF
Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) collected his 319th hit with a single to right field in the top of the first inning in Kent State's 13-4 triumph at Ohio on May 6 to surpass Scott Simon (2003-04, 06-07) of Northern Illinois for the conference's career hits record. He finished the contest with a double and two singles to up his career total to 321. Currently on a 13-game hitting streak - the team's longest of the season - Rider is now the owner of 326 career hits.
Rider leads Kent State with 79 hits on the season in 2012 - including a team-high 24 doubles to rank second in the country. He's smashed four home runs and driven in 32 runs and is batting .364 on the season. Rider is hitting .337 in MAC play with 35 hits - including nine doubles and four home runs - to go along with 20 RBIs and 32 runs scored. He was named MAC East Division Player of the Week on April 30 after cracking a two-out, two-RBI double to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning to help Kent State blank Western Michigan, 4-0, on 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 at Penn State on April 25.
A 2009 Second Team All-MAC pick, Rider is also one of the top defensive shortstops in MAC history, owning Kent State's all-time record in assists with 711.
WE'VE GOT AN ACE UP OUR SLEEVE
Senior southpaw ace David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) has etched his place as one of the best pitchers in Kent State history, owning the school's career strikeouts record with 316. He is now one mound triumph away from matching b (1984-87) for the most pitching victories in program history. He is currently tied with Mike Nartker (1992-95) for second place.
After putting himself in line for the pitching victory by striking out seven over the first six innings in Kent State's lightning-suspended 4-1 win at Ohio last Friday (May 4), Starn earned his sixth victory of the season and 24th of his career, which ties Hayhurst for the third most in Kent State history. He is 6-3 on the season with a 2.20 ERA and 87 strikeouts - including a 3-1 mark with a 2.66 ERA and 56 strikeouts against just 15 walks in MAC play. For his career, Starn owns a 24-7 mark with a 3.22 ERA.
Starn became Kent State's new career strikeouts king on April 6 in the weekend series opener against Buffalo as the Flashes earned a thrilling 5-4 walk-off victory. Starn finished the contest with a career-high 12 strikeouts – including fanning nine of the first 16 batters he faced – to surpass the 274 career strikeouts mark set by Hayhurst to move into first place in the school's record book. He struck out five over seven innings to up his career total to 300 as Kent State rolled to a 16-5 win over interdivision foe Western Michigan on April 27.
Starn was named MAC East Division Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 21 as Kent State rode his arm to blank then-No. 9 Georgia Tech, 5-0, to lift the lid off of the 2012 season in grand fashion in the opening game of the Rock Hill Coca-Cola Classic on Feb. 17 at the Winthrop Ballpark. A 2012 Louisville Slugger Third Team Pre-Season All-America selection, Starn twirled eight shutout innings and tallied nine strikeouts while scattering just four hits and walking only two on 104 pitches.
HE'S GOT CLASS
Kent State baseball's senior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) has been named one of 10 finalists for the 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.
An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.
The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in February. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to determine the winner. Fans are encouraged to vote on the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award website through June 11. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I men's head coaches' votes to determine the winner. Fans can vote for David once a day at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/baseball_2012/.
Lyon put together a career season last year, posting a career-best .315 batting average, .384 on base percentage and .538 slugging percentage with a career-high 75 hits, 36 runs, seven triples (most on the team, second in the MAC; tied with Matt Rundels, 1991 for most in a single season in school history), nine home runs, 27 walks, 53 RBIs and 128 total bases (third on the team, fourth in the MAC). He also led Kent State with 404 putouts, the eighth most in a single season in school history. He earned 2011 ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Mideast Region Second Team and Second Team All-MAC honors for his efforts. He earned All-NCAA Championship Austin Regional honors after he produced perhaps the most memorable hit in Kent State history to help down then-No. 5 Texas, 7-5, on its home field as the Golden Flashes earned their first regional final berth since 2001. Trailing 2-1 with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth, Lyon sent a 1-2 pitch sailing over the left field wall and into the Kent State bullpen to give the Golden Flashes a 5-2 lead with his second career grand slam. Lyon was named to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team under Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin, who served as an assistant coach for the squad and helped the USA win three of five games against Japan.
A team co-captain, Lyon sports a .306 batting average in 48 games in 2012, collecting 55 hits – including 16 doubles, two triples and eight home runs – to go along with 34 RBIs. He serves as the backstop for a Kent State pitching staff ranked among the tops in the nation in strikeouts per nine innings. Lyon and the Flashes are in search of an unprecedented fourth straight MAC Tournament title and NCAA Championship Regional berth.
Lyon feasted on Miami pitching last weekend to help Kent State capture the 2012 MAC regular season title by sweeping their East Division rivals for the first time since 2006. Lyon finished the weekend with six hits – including four round trippers – to go along with five RBIs. He upped his career home run total to 22 and has now tallied three multi-homer days in his career. Lyon crushed the go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap a four-run frame – his second round tripper of the day – to help the Golden Flashes complete a come-from-behind 7-6 triumph Miami and earn Kent State's second straight outright conference regular season title and 11th regular season championship in program history Saturday. He followed that performance up by posting his second straight two-home run game to help Kent State down the RedHawks, 10-4, in the Sunday series finale.
Lowe's, an official Corporate Partner of the NCAA, will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2012 NCAA College World Series®, which will be held June 15-26 in Omaha.
THE THREE FLASHKETEERS
Redshirt junior infielder Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio), junior outfielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) and junior infielder George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) combine to make up arguably the best trio of roommates in NCAA baseball.
Hamilton leads the Flashes with a .397 batting average. He led Kent State with a staggering .700 batting average, seven hits and five RBIs in the weekend series (March 3-4) at Western Kentucky.
Campbell leads the Golden Flashes in slugging percentage (.552) triples (3) and total bases (117) while ranking second in runs scored (45), hits (76) and doubles (17) and third in batting average (.358) He has recorded a team-high 25 multi-hit games - including 16 games with two hits, seven games with three hits, one game with four hits and one game with five hits. He was named MAC East Division Player of the Week after he batted .500 with seven hits and drove in six runs to help Kent State win the weekend series at Lipscomb, 2-1. Campbell is hitting .319 in conference play with 30 hits - including five doubles, three triples and four home runs - to go along with 15 RBIs and 21 runs scored.
Roberts leads Kent State in RBIs (44) while tying Campbell for second in home runs (6) and ranking third in hits (67) and total bases (100). He ranks second on the team with 23 multi-hit games - including 13 games with two hits, nine games with three hits and one game with four hits. Roberts is Kent State's top hitter in MAC play with a .396 batting average, 38 hits - including six doubles, a triple and four home runs - to go along with 25 RBIs and 24 runs scored.