Flashes’ bats propel them to series win over NIU


Former pitcher Connor Wollersheim about to pitch, seen through the on-deck batter. Kent State Golden Flashes won 9-5 against East Central Michigan on the April 5, 2019 game.

John Conley

The Kent State baseball team scored 38 runs throughout its three-game series against Northern Illinois, with the Flashes capturing a series win.

The Flashes took the final two games of the series, scoring four runs in the top of the ninth inning on Saturday to finalize the 11-10 win. In Sunday’s game, Kent State got ahead early and won, 10-3. The loss came in the series opener on Friday, 17-11.

Freshman Justin Kirby became the first Flash since Drew Saylor in 2005 to hit three home runs in a game on Friday, finishing 4-for-5 with five RBI.

Starting pitcher Connor Wollersheim suffered the loss in 2 ⅓ innings , giving up 10 runs and five walks. Wollersheim five of the seven outs Wollersheim recorded came via strikeout.

The Flashes got four runs in the top of the first, three of which coming off the bat of Kirby. The Huskies responded, however with two runs in the bottom of the inning.

Kent State extended its lead in the second inning to 7-2 after freshman Collin Matthews hit an RBI double, bringing in senior Josh Hollander to start a three-run inning. Sophomore Ben Carew hit a single to score Matthews and senior Kian O’Brien hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Carew.

The early lead would not hold as Wollersheim let up six runs in the bottom of the second, giving the Huskies an 8-7 lead. The Flashes tied the game in the third off a double-play, but Northern Illinois would take the game from there, winning 17-11.

Kirby collected his other two home runs with solo shots in the fifth and sixth inning.

In the Saturday matchup, Kent State battled back all game in a thrilling victory. With the score 10-7 in the top of the ninth, the Flashes got three walks to load the bases. Sophomore Alex Ronnebaum delivered a single, scoring two to cut the lead to 10-9. The Huskies would make a pitching change, but Carew came through with a two-run double, giving the Flashes their only lead of the game at 11-10.

Senior Pavin Parks came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth and recorded the save to secure the win tying up the series.

Senior Chris Martin got his first win of the season, coming in for three scoreless innings of relief for junior John Matthews. Matthews went 3 ⅓ innings, with five strikeouts.

Carew and Ronnebaum accounted for nine of the 11 runs, with Carew going 4-for-6 and four RBI. Ronnebaum went 2-for-5 with a three-run home run and a single that scored two.

In the series finale, the Flashes won 10-3, taking the Mid-American Conference matchup.

Freshman Trevor Pittman got his first win of the season, going five innings recording six strikeouts. Freshman Luke Albright came in relief, getting his first career save through four innings of work.

The duo combined for another performance that the Flashes needed.

Kent State broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning, giving the Flashes an 8-1 lead.

Junior Cam Touchette hit a single to score Kirby and senior Pete Schuler followed with an RBI single of his own. O’Brien then hit a two-run triple, forcing a call to the bullpen. Matthews then collected a sacrifice fly to end the scoring.

O’Brien hit a two run double in the next inning to cap off a 2-for-4 day with four RBI and two runs scored.

The Flashes held onto the lead, leaving Northern Illinois with another MAC series win. The Flashes moved up in the conference standings to fourth place now with a 7-6 record. The Flashes sit at 18-19 overall.

Kent State will play a Wednesday afternoon game against Canisius College. The two teams faced earlier in the season with Canisius winning, 13-2. 

John Conley is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].