Strong Defense and Three Homers Push Flashes Past Broncos in Game Two of a Split
KENT, Ohio - Kent State moved to 5-1 in Mid-American Conference play Friday, following a doubleheader split against Western Michigan. After an 8-6 loss in game one, Lauren Grimes preserved a 5-4 win in game two with a game-saving catch in the seventh inning as she crashed into the center field fence.
Grimes, Shannon Laughlin and Mary Holt all blasted home runs in the Flashes' victory. Grimes did not let the Broncos lead last long as she tied the game with a solo shot to right field in the bottom of the first. After a walk to Jess Carmichael, Laughlin went the opposite way to give the Flashes a 3-1 lead.
A pair of singles by the Broncos in the third trimmed the lead to 3-2, but KSU had another answer in the bottom of the inning. Abbey Ledford singled to right and Holt lined her sixth homer of the year over the left field fence.
In the fifth, it was Western Michigan's turn to use the longball as Tara Buchanan and Gracie Barstad hit back-to-back two-out homers. The Broncos tallied 10 hits in game two, but left seven runners on, including one in the seventh as Grimes hauled in the final out.
"Our defense was much more solid in the second game," Head Coach Karen Linder said. "Our pitchers are doing a good job, but they're not dominating so we have to play good defense. And we cleaned it up in the second game."
Grimes also got the offense rolling early in game one as she and Alex Marcantonio each doubled to start the bottom of the first. An RBI single by Laughlin and a Bronco error extended the lead to 3-0.
"We usually come out ready to go," Linder said of her team scoring three, first-inning runs in each game. "We've been fortunate that the top of our order has been very strong. And they did a good job of attacking early on."
Western Michigan bounced back with two runs in the second and two in the third. Another double by Grimes in the fourth and a single up the middle from Marcantonio gave KSU the lead back 5-4.
The Broncos took advantage of two infield errors in the fifth, scoring four unearned runs. Barstad hit the first of three singles in the inning that broke the Flashes' backs.
"Pitching and defense really cost us that inning," Linder said. "We didn't put it all together in that first game."
An RBI double by Jess Blanton in the seventh brought the tying run to the plate, but Bronco pitcher Kayla Houston retired the final two batters.
The Golden Flashes (15-18) continue conference play Saturday, hosting Northern Illinois at 2 p.m.