Flashes prepare to face off against Gators
DetailsCreated on Sunday, 17 June 2012 22:34 Written by Matt Lofgren Hits: 658
The 2012 season has been a season of firsts for the Kent State baseball program.
First super regional birth, first super regional championship, first College World Series appearance -- now the first elimination game of their College World Series appearance.
The Flashes are up against the wall in a win-or-go-home situation against the nation’s number one ranked team in the Florida Gators. Being in such a tight spot after everything the team has been through might make some people weary at the prospect of such an important game, but not coach Scott Stricklin.
“[Our] guys are loose. We told them again ‘you’re in Omaha, Neb., let’s enjoy this,’” Stricklin said. “We’re no longer just happy to be here. We’re here to win some games. We’re disappointed in the way we played yesterday, but Arkansas deserved to win, they were the better team.”
Loose is the exact way to describe the team after a brief hour and a half practice at East Bellvue High School in Bellvue, Neb. Players took infield drills followed by some light hitting, all in preparation for the biggest game of their lives.
“Couple of weeks ago if you told me you’re going to be in Bellvue, Nebraska practicing still, I would have probably said no way,” senior short stop Jimmy Rider said. “It’s been a blast, an absolute pleasure to be here with all the guys. We have a great team. We’ve been working out and it’s worked out for us all year. We definitely deserve to be here and just going to try and go out there and try and have some fun and prove ourselves one more time.”
Strength vs. finesse
It’s no secret: Florida is the best team the Flashes will have faced all year on paper. Loaded with MLB talent, including a first-round pick in catcher Mike Zunino, the Gators pose as a big threat to the Flashes’ chances of continuing in the tournament.
But, in Rider’s eyes, where the Gators are most confident is in their ability and the fact that they have everything to lose as the number one seed.
“They’re a good team, that’s for sure,” Rider said. “They got a lot of guys drafted, they can play well: pitching, hitting, play defense. But we believe we can do the same things as them and hopefully they’ll say, ‘Hey, we’re playing Kent State’ and then kind of look past us and we can use that to our advantage.”
Coach Stricklin and the Flashes, representing the home team in Monday’s game, will put their faith in right-hander Ryan Bores, who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 27th round of the MLB Draft. The team has full confidence in Bores who led the Flashes to a crucial 7-3 victory over Purdue to send the team to the super-regionals.
Bores’ complete game performance against the Boilermakers showed Stricklin that he has the stuff to be a big game pitcher.
“If we lose, we’re done, so I’ve got to go out there and pitch the best I can hope and hope the infield can make plays behind me and get some hits too,” Bores said.
Florida will be sending junior right-hander Hudson Randall to the mound with his 2.61 ERA with a 9-2 record. The Flashes’ lineup is expected to remain unchanged from Saturday’s game.
A special Father’s Day for coaches and players
Rarely does our nation’s pastime and the day that celebrates the figure in our lives that has been with us through thick and thin sync up so perfectly, but for coach Stricklin and several players on the team that’s just what happened this year.
“I woke up this morning, and my son stayed with me last night and got up, ate breakfast, went swimming and my dad was there. So [with] my dad, me and my son here that’s a special day for all of us,” Stricklin said. “It’s great to see a lot of former players here with their sons, and it kind of opens your eyes to how special it is to see all these people that have made this trek out here to Omaha to watch our kids play and bring their families out here. It’s been a lot of fun.”