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Baseball gets back on track with first series win of season

Anthony Scilla
Freshman Kolton Schaller is congratulated by coach Jeff Duncan as he passes third base April 30, 2023.

Kent State’s baseball team closed out its 11-game streak away from home to start the season with a series win against Jacksonville State.

The team got off to a good start, as the Flashes took both games of Saturday’s doubleheader but failed to get the sweep after a loss in the third and final game.

KSU outscored the Gamecocks 20-13 during the series and collected its first wins in seven games. 

Saturday (game 1)

The first game of the two-game slate Saturday went the Flashes’ way.

The team took an early lead in the top of the first inning after senior third baseman Kyle Jackson tripled on the first at-bat of the game.

Jackson would come in to score on senior shortstop Michael McNamara’s sacrifice fly to give Kent State an early jump on the scoring.

Again, Jackson kick-started the offense when he took to the plate next time. 

A walk in his third inning at-bat led to a run on center fielder Josh Johnson’s single to right field, and the Flashes jumped out to a 2-0 advantage.

Jacksonville State cut the lead in half in its portion of the third inning, but KSU got back on track with another run in the fourth inning.

Senior first baseman Tim Orr hit his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot, to regain the team’s two-run cushion.

In the next inning, Johnson brought Jackson around the bases again, this time on a double to left-center. The Flashes led 4-1 after the double.

The Gamecocks would go on to tie the game after scoring three runs in the ensuing two innings.

A solo home run in the bottom of the fifth, along with two more solo shots in the bottom of the sixth, knotted the ball game up at 4-4.

Kent State erupted in the top of the seventh, however, scoring the game’s final four runs.

Johnson added to his runs batted in (RBI) total following a bases-clearing three-run double.

After Johnson stole third, McNamara singled to left and brought him in to give the Flashes a four-point difference.

Redshirt freshman closer Gavin Jones shut the door with a three-strikeout ninth inning to finalize game one’s 8-4 score.

Junior starting pitcher Jack Kartsonas got the nod for game one and turned in his best performance of the early season.

Kartsonas pitched for 5+ innings, allowed three earned runs, two solo home runs, one hit-by-pitch walk and six hits, but collected five strikeouts.

The win went to redshirt junior relief pitcher Benny Roebuck, who came in in the sixth inning and finished his day after pitching for the whole eighth inning.

Roebuck went for three innings, surrendering a solo home run, and allowed two hits but had one strikeout in the outing.

The offense in game one was led by Jackson, Johnson and McNamara, along with Orr’s solo home run.

Jackson had three quarters of the cycle with a walk, single, double and triple in a 3-for-4 outing in the first game.

It was Jackson’s first double and first triple of the season and he scored every time he got on base.

Johnson erupted in his 3-3 performance at the plate.

He accounted for five RBIs with two doubles and a single, to go with his two walks — he got on base every time he went to the plate in game one.

Johnson has tallied 10 RBIs and four doubles so far this season.

McNamara got the scoring started in the first inning and added the final run of the game on a single in the seventh inning.

Saturday (game 2)

The Flashes swept Saturday’s double-header after scoring 10 runs. It is the second time this season that KSU has scored 10 or more runs in a game.

Junior starting pitcher Eric Chalus got the start for Saturday night’s game.

The lefty was 1-1 coming into the game, posting a 7.56 earned-run average with 13 strikeouts and three walks.

Chalus got off to a rocky start after allowing two hits and a run in the first inning to give JSU the lead.

KSU answered with five runs in the next two innings.

Two runs were scored after a throwing error by Jacksonville State’s catcher, which gave KSU a 2-1 lead.

McNamara continued his Saturday tear with a one-run single in the third to expand the Flashes’ lead.

Orr followed up on his solo home run in game one with a two-RBI double to right-center to give the team a four-run lead.

JSU got back on the scoreboard with another run in the bottom of the third on an RBI double.

The Flashes added five unanswered runs to pull away for good after giving up the run in the third inning.

Johnson added to his RBI total with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Freshman catcher Dom Kibler tacked on another run on an RBI triple, his first of the season, scoring Orr.

Ball State junior transfer second baseman Aiden Hinds hit a three-run home run to give the Flashes a 10-2 lead in the fifth inning.

The home run marked Hinds’ first home run and RBI tallies this season.

The scoring ended in the bottom of the fifth when JSU used an RBI double, followed by an RBI single in back-to-back at-bats.

No runs were surrendered by the Kent State relief staff, who pitched the final four innings of work.

Graduate student Joe Miceli, who was making his first appearance of the season, and junior Peyton Cariaco combined for four walks, five strikeouts and zero hits in the four innings, helping the Flashes keep their 10-4 lead as the final score.

Chalus collected his second win of the season as he allowed seven hits, four runs (three earned), and two walks in five innings. The pitcher struck out five batters in the effort.

Jackson and McNamara continued to surge, but Kibler and Orr stole the show offensively.

Kibler had a triple, walk and single in a 2-for-3 outing. It was his first triple of the season and his RBI in the fifth inning was his eighth of the season.

Orr had a 4-for-6 day with two RBIs in the victory. He tallied three singles and a double, his first double this season.


The Flashes turned the ball over to redshirt starting pitcher Calvin Bickerstaff with a much-needed series sweep on the line.

Bickerstaff, who just joined the starting rotation after working out of the bullpen previously, came into the game with an 0-1 record. In two games, he has an 11.57 ERA, 10 Ks, and one BB.

The pitcher was rocked to start the game.

Jacksonville State put up a three-piece in the first inning to gain control of the game.

The scoring came on a two-run home run and a solo shot.

Kent State did not score three runs for the whole game.

The only two runs the Flashes did score came in the second and third innings.

Jackson reached on an error that scored freshman left fielder Bo Shinkle.

In the third, Johnson caught fire after blasting a solo home run to left center, his first of the season.

Scoring was hard to come by following Johnson’s home run.

A wild pitch in the fourth inning and a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning was all the scoring this game saw, as JSU took the final game of the series 5-2.

Sophomores Ciaran Caughey and Jordan Kolenda finished off the pitching after Bickerstaff’s 3.2 innings of work.

Bickerstaff was assigned his second loss of the season.

The relievers pitched for 4.1 innings and only gave up one hit, three BBs, and one home run. They combined for five Ks, as well.

Johnson, once again, carried the offense with a 1-3 day with his solo home run.

The story so far

The Flashes have stumbled out of the gate this season as the team faces a 3-8 record after the first 11 games.

Other than the double-header sweep, the only other win came against the University of North Carolina Wilmington Feb. 17 in an 8-2 victory.

In one particular heartbreaker, KSU lost to Troy 12-11. Kent State took a 10-4 lead into the bottom of the seventh but was outscored 8-1 from then on.

Orr is the team’s best batter by batting average.

He is hitting .436 and has started in all 11 games. He has 17 hits in 39 at-bats, one double, four home runs, six walks and 11 RBIs.

Chalus is the pitcher of record in two of the team’s three wins this season.

After starting in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, Chalus is 2-1 with a 6.72 ERA through 13.1 innings of work. 

He has allowed 18 hits, 10 earned runs, and five walks to go with 18 Ks.

The team is tied for seventh in the Mid-American Conference with its 3-8 record with Eastern Michigan.

KSU was selected as the team to beat in the MAC during the preseason poll, as the conference’s 11 coaches voted KSU as the No. 1 team before the season started.

Kent State will look to keep the winning flowing as the team cracks open a homestand.

The next five games will be at Schoonover Stadium — the next game coming against Tiffin, followed by a three-game set against Central Michigan and another one-off game against Youngstown State.

Tiffin has struggled this season, as the Dragons have a 1-6 start.

Tiffin allows over eight runs per game so far this season, and Kent State scores five runs per game on average.

The game against Tiffin will be Tuesday, with first pitch at 3 p.m.

John Hilber is assistant sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
John Hilber, Reporter
John is a sophomore majoring in journalism with a minor in psychology. This is his second year with the KentWired team as a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected].
Anthony Scilla, Assistant Photo Editor
AJ is a sophomore studying public relations. Photography has always been a passion of AJ’s, and he is excited to take this position. Last semester, he had the opportunity to write articles on housing and dining, and he helped cover the mill fire downtown.

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