Flashes drop 14 inning affair in series loss to RedHawks

Junior+Jen+Cader+swings+during+the+first+game+of+Kent+States+doubleheader+against+Ohio+on+April+11%2C+2018.+The+Flashes+lost%2C+4-2.

Junior Jen Cader swings during the first game of Kent State’s doubleheader against Ohio on April 11, 2018. The Flashes lost, 4-2.

Gina Butkovich

Kent State found itself down 2-1 at the bottom of the seventh inning during the first game of its double-header against Miami (OH) on Saturday. The Flashes were down to their final strike when junior outfielder Maria Cegledy hit a home run over the center field fencing to tie the game at two and send the game at extras. The Flashes and RedHawks battled for seven more innings, with Kent State losing 4-3.

They played the final game of the double-header thirty minutes after the loss. Miami scored 11 runs in the first two innings of that game. The RedHawks went on to win 16-3 in five innings. Kent State dropped two of three to Miami over the weekend, losses that dropped the Flashes from first to third in the Mid-American Conference standings.

“We unfortunately went from in a position where we can be in the driver seat to now needing some help if we want to win a MAC championship,” coach Eric Oakley said. “We need to do a better job of executing with runners in scoring position. It’s a tough lesson to learn. You don’t want to learn that lesson against a MAC opponent but maybe that’s what makes it hit home.”

The Flashes won the first game of the series on Friday, 3-0. Freshman Andrea Scali pitched her sixth shutout of the season, striking out nine while only allowing three hits.

“She did a great job of keeping them off balance,” Oakley said. “I think early on, even struggling with the zone, she still managed to get some strikeouts. Through the middle of the game she was getting groundouts and popups and her teammates were making plays behind her. And then she came through late with a couple more strikeouts to finish the game.”

Miami sophomore Courtney Vierstra also struck out nine Flashes on Friday. All three Kent State runs were driven in by the Brownfield sisters, senior Bailey and sophomore Brenna, who both played softball with Vierstra growing up.

“She’s a great pitcher. And nine strikeouts is nine players who didn’t put the ball in play,” Oakley said. “Sometimes it’s tough the more familiar you are with someone, they have a tendency to hurt you.”

The first game on Saturday started at 1 p.m. It didn’t end until 5 p.m.

Junior Madi Huck started the game pitching and allowed just one run before tweaking her back in the sixth inning. Scali took over and pitched the remaining eight innings.

“I’m a little tired but not too bad,” Scali said. “As we got into the extra innings, it was just kind of like ‘oh here we go again.’ But I felt really good after the first couple innings. I really thought we were going to pull through and get the win, but it doesn’t go that way sometimes.”

At the top of the eighth inning, Miami again looked poised to win after scoring on a sacrifice fly, before senior outfielder Jen Cader started the bottom of the eighth with a home run to tie the game again.

“Jen and Maria with two huge hits to keep us in the game,” Oakley said. “That was fantastic. We just needed to do something else at some point in time to push a run across.”

Kent State left 11 runners on base in the first seven innings. In the seven extra innings, it left seven runners on base.

“Our defense isn’t our problem,” Oakley said. “We needed to score more runs.”

Miami scored in the 14th on a two out single to left, and the Flashes were not able to answer.

“What you saw there was two games that are completely connected,” Oakley said. “We needed to finish that first game to make sure we won the second.”

The Flashes went through four pitchers in the second game.

“If we have to pitch by committee, that’s fine,” Oakley said. “I don’t mind using multiple pitchers in a game if it’s keeping a team off balance. But when we have to bring pitchers in because we are giving up home runs, five, six runs in an inning, that’s not what we are about.”

Freshman Anilese Kelly starting. After the first two batters in the Miami lineup popped out and grounded out, Kelly allowed three hits and six runs before Huck came in to get the last out.

In the second inning, the RedHawks scored five runs against Huck, before Huck was pulled and freshman pitcher Grace Saupe entered the game to record the last two outs.

Miami scored another three runs in the third, before Brenna Brownfield, who has not regularly pitched all season was brought in and pitched the remainder of the game, allowing two more runs.

“Brenna is not here to be a pitcher,” Oakley said. “So when Brenna comes in, what we get out of Brenna is a bonus. So I’m glad she got us out of there and stopped the bleeding. But Anilese and Grace, we need some better outings from.”

Kent State only recorded three strikeouts in the second game and allowed 17 hits. The game lasted less than two hours, and ended after five innings.

The Flashes play again on Tuesday at Pitt, the first non-conference game since March.

“I think we go in and do what we do and pick up from these games and get a win,” Scali said.

Gina Butkovich is a sports reporter. Contact her at [email protected]