Dramatic Super Regional Win Sends Flashes to College World Series
A dramatic one-out double by Rider to score Toadvine punches Kent State's ticket
EUGENE, Ore.- A bottom-of-the-ninth, bloop single by Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) scored Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) from second to give Kent State a series-deciding, 3-2 victory over Oregon in game three of the NCAA Super Regional Monday at PK Park. All three series games were decided by a run, with Monday's win putting the Golden Flashes into the College World Series for the first time in program history and the first appearance by a Mid-American Conference team in four decades.
"To take a team to Omaha…I wish I could find the words to describe for you, but I can't," Head Coach Scott Stricklin said. "It was the first time I went into a dog pile since 1993."
With the score knotted 2-2, Toadvine led off the inning with a walk and moved to second on a bunt by Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio). Rider's fly ball hung in the air for a while, but was placed in the perfect spot near the left field line and Toadvine's speed gave the Ducks no chance for a play at the plate.
Sophomore starter Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) went 5.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. But Skulina hit the first two batters to start the sixth, bringing the Oregon crowd to its feet. He retired the next two, before making way for Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio), who left both runners on.
Wilson retired three straight in the seventh, before allowing a leadoff single to J.J. Altobelli in the eighth. Lefthander Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio) then replaced Wilson. A walk put two runners on and a bunt moved them in scoring position. Ryon Healy then sliced a grounder through the right side, bringing both runners home. Unlike Sunday's late Duck rally, Clark left the go-ahead run on second.
The Flashes jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first behind three hard-hit singles off Oregon hurler Jeff Gold. Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) started with a single to center, followed by a David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) hit into right. A George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) ground ball to the right side moved the runners over and T.J. Sutton (Uniontown, Ohio) brought Rider home, smacking one into opposite field.
Kent State kept the hits coming in the second with three straight to start the inning. Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio) led off with a single to left. Alex Miklos (Grove City, Pa.) followed with a hit through the left side and Toadvine beat out a throw to first on a bunt down the third base line. However, the Ducks caught a break as Campbell grounded into a bases loaded double play as the only run of the inning came across.
The Flashes then went the next five innings without a hit, but Rider's single in the ninth was the one that mattered.
"They're a quality ball club and I'm going to be rooting for them in the College World Series," Oregon left fielder Brett Thomas said.
Kent State's historic win also gives the Golden Flashes 46 victories on the year, a single-season program record.
The Golden Flashes will make their first College World Series appearance against Arkansas Saturday in Omaha, beginning at 5 p.m. Eastern.
Watch individual player and coach interviews on mac-sports.com