Kent State Ends Opening Weekend With 13-8 Loss at UNC Wilmington
Wilmington, N.C. – The Golden Flashes (0-4) started off the day battling back, but errors and a poor day on the mound saw them end the weekend without a win as they lost the final game of the weekend 13-8 to UNC Wilmington (2-1).
"I thought we competed a little bit better early on today, especially at the plate," head coach Scott Stricklin said. "I thought our kids battled. But, we just weren't good enough today. We just didn't have an answer for them. They swung the bats really well and just out-played us. So it was disappointing to wrap up the weekend like that."
Kent State went into an early 3-0 deficit after the first inning, but answered back in the second and the third to tie the game at three. After loading the bases on two singles and a walk, Freshman Zarley Zalewski grounded into a double play that allowed Kent State's first run to score.
In the next inning, they plated two runs, starting with a double by Justin Wagler. He came around to score on an error and T.J. Sutton came home later on another error to tie the game at three. However, the Flashes left three men on base, ending the threat.
The Seahawks took the lead right back in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs of their own.
Kent State was able to grab a one-run lead in the top of the fourth. After two Flashes walked, Sutton and Evan Campbell came up with RBI singles. Sutton later scored on a successful hit-and-run.
But, UNC Wilmington responded yet again, plating four runs in the bottom of the inning to put the game away for good. Kent State's last two runs came when Tommy Monnot doubled in the seventh and scored on another double off the bat of Jason Bagoly. Bagoly then scored on a RBI base hit.
The Golden Flashes' pitching staff gave up twelve earned runs on the day, including 15 hits and seven walks while only striking out four.
"We walked too many hitters," Stricklin said of the team's pitching performance. "We hit too many hitters. We gave our opponents too many free bases. If you do that, you're not going to win against good teams. We gave our opponents too many opportunities and they took advantage of it."
Kent State suffered with three errors in the game, bringing their four-game weekend total to 14.
"It's unacceptable," said Stricklin. "To have 14 errors in four games; we're never going to win. We played as bad defensively as I've ever had a team play, so we've got to fix that. We've got to make routine plays."
Monnot finished the day 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI. Bagoly and Sawyer Polen both went 2-for-4 with a RBI. Nick Jensen-Clagg (0-1) got the loss as the starter, going three innings allowing seven runs on seven hits and two walks.
A positive on the weekend were the first-time performances by the freshman. Zarley Zalewski finished batting .357 in three games with a double. Justin Wagler had three hits with a double, triple and RBI. Eli Martin threw two innings in relief without allowing a hit or an earned run. Aaron Tadian pitched in, going three innings in two appearances.
However, despite what they learned in the early-going, leaving Wilmington without a win is not acceptable.
"We don't come down here to try to get moral victories," Stricklin said. "We came here to win and to go 0-4 is disappointing and frustrating."
Kent State will try to leave the weekend's poor performances behind as they prepare to face another top-tier team in San Diego next weekend. They enter Friday's (Feb. 22) game looking for their first win and hoping that it will propel them forward.
"We've got to move forward and we've got to get better," said Stricklin. "We need to play well and try to get some momentum."