Kent State Takes Down No. 4 Louisville in Final Game of the Weekend
Louisville, Ky. – Head Coach Scott Stricklin said starting pitcher Casey Wilson needed to last five to six innings and the bullpen needed to show their abilities to get a win at Louisville (9-2) on Sunday (Mar. 3), and that's just what they did.
The Flashes were able to hold on to a slight lead to earn a 3-2 victory over the fourth-ranked team in the nation in the teams' final meeting.
"Casey Wilson was really big for us and had a great start against a really good offensive team," Stricklin said. "Then the bullpen, which we know is going to be really good for us, stepped up today. That was really good to see."
Louisville got on the board first, scoring one run in the bottom of the third. But Kent State was able to answer back with one of their own in the fifth. T.J. Sutton put down a base-hit bunt and Cody Koch singled to right, setting up a RBI opportunity for Sawyer Polen. Polen singled through the right side to tie the game.
The Flashes added two more runs in the very next inning. Evan Campbell bumped his hit streak up to 11 games with a single to lead off the inning. Jason Bagoly later reached on an error and Troy Summers came in to pinch run for him and stole second. With two on, Tommy Monnot doubled to score two.
However, the Cardinals would not go down easy. They were able to load the bases in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, but the Flashes bullpen was ready to prove their worth.
Brian Clark allowed the bases to get loaded in the seventh on a walk and two singles, but struck out two straight to end the threat. Clark allowed a run to score on a double in the eighth, but with bases loaded again and two outs, he got out of the jam.
In the bottom of the ninth, Louisville looked ready to walk-off. Clark walked the leadoff batter and allowed a single and sacrifice bunt to put runners on second and third. He then issued an intentional walk to load the bases with one out. Clark sat the next batter down looking before the Kent State coaching staff went to the bullpen to call on Eric Dorsch to close the game. Dorsch struggled in his two appearances this season, but did his job, getting the final batter to line out to end the game and earn himself the save.
Wilson (1-2) went 5.1 innings with five hits, two walks and one strikeout while only allowing one run. His performance reassured his position as the third starter on what has now shown to be a tough three-man rotation for the Flashes.
"He did a really good job," Stricklin said. "The exciting thing for us is to see Casey pitch like that on Sunday and we know we've got Taylor Williams and Tyler Skulina on Friday and Saturday. That makes us feel really good as a team and the direction that we're moving."
T.J Sutton had his second multi-hit day in a row, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Derek Toadvine picked up two hits in his four at-bats.
Clark pitched 3.1 innings in relief with five hits, one unearned run, five walks and six strikeouts.
The win gives Kent State a lot of momentum heading into their next weekend series against Charlotte beginning on Friday (Mar. 8). Although the Golden Flashes still have some areas to work on, and despite a less-than desired record, Stricklin still believes the team is continually improving.
"As the weather starts to warm up, I think our team is going to as well," he said. 'I think it's a slow start, wins and losses-wise, but it's a very tough schedule and we haven't played well. We haven't been healthy. But, we're getting closer to being healthy; we feel like we're moving in the direction we need to be moving."