Kent State baseball looks for fourth straight conference sweep
Sophomore outfielder T.J. Sutton makes contact with a pitch against Youngstown State at Schoonover Stadium on Wednesday, April 11. Kent State defeated Youngstown State 14-4. Photo by Anthony Vence.The Kent State baseball team will look to continue its success against Mid-American Conference opponents with a trio of games this weekend against Bowling Green.
The Flashes will travel Friday to face the Falcons in a three-game series. Kent State is 9-0 in the MAC this season after completing sweeps of Northern Illinois, Ball State and Buffalo.
Coach Scott Stricklin said his players will approach this series the same way they have all season.
“Our guys understand what we’ve got in front of us,” Stricklin said. “Everyone [in the conference] is kind of shooting at us, and we have a target on us. I expect our guys to come out and play.”
The Flashes [19-13] have won five straight games and eight of their last nine. The team is coming off a decisive 14-4 victory over the Youngstown State Penguins Wednesday.
The Falcons [12-20, 2-7 MAC] come into this series after a 2-1 win over Michigan Tuesday. The Falcons have been strong on their home field this season, compiling a record of 6-1 including three straight wins at home.
Last season, Kent State swept the regular-season series against Bowling Green with a 17-10 victory May 13 and an 8-0 shutout May 14. The Flashes also defeated the Falcons 6-2 in the first round of last year’s MAC tournament.
The Flashes lead the all-time series, 106-61.
David Starn, senior left-handed pitcher, will start for the Flashes in Friday’s opener. Last weekend, Starn passed former pitcher Dirk Hayhurst to become Kent State’s all-time leader in career strikeouts with 280.
Ryan Bores, junior right-handed pitcher, gets the start for Saturday’s game, and sophomore right-hander Tyler Skulina will start Sunday. All three of the Flashes’ weekend starters have records of 4-2 through eight starts this season.
Kent State has a team batting average of .304 this season led by Nick Hamilton, junior third baseman. Hamilton is batting .500 with 35 hits in 70 at-bats.
Four Flashes hitters have hit three homeruns this year, including senior shortstop Jimmy Rider and George Roberts, junior first baseman. Roberts also leads the team in RBIs with 28.
The bullpen continues to be a major strength of the team as the relievers have a combined 4.12 ERA. Casey Wilson, junior right-handed pitcher, has emerged as the team’s closer, earning a team-high four saves and an ERA of 1.96 in 15 appearances.
Game one of the series will begin at 3 p.m. Friday with the games Saturday and Sunday both starting at 1 p.m.