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Baseball drops heartbreakers, salvages last game against Bobcats

Cadie Pierce
Redshirt Sophomore Starting Pitcher Rocco Bernadina lets loose a breaking ball during the Golden Flashes’ 27-0 blowout of Youngstown State on March 12, 2024.

The Kent State baseball team scored 15 runs in one inning on Sunday, taking the last game of a three-game series against Ohio University.

KSU used the inning to avoid a sweep and took the last game 22-4.

The Flashes dropped the other two games of the series in a set that lasted from Friday-Sunday.

Following the 1-2 weekend, KSU dipped below .500 again as the team sits at 9-10 this season. The team is 4-2 in the conference and sits in third place in the Mid-American Conference.

OU improves to 3-3 in the MAC and 7-10 overall. The Bobcats are seventh in the conference.

Game 1

By the bottom of the eighth inning, KSU had tied the game at 4-4.

After the bottom half of the inning, OU was up five runs and took home the game-one win.

The game started off with a bang, as leadoff batter senior third baseman Kyle Jackson hit his third home run of the season on the game’s first at-bat.

The home run came on the first pitch of the game.

Ohio’s leadoff batter in the bottom of the first hit a solo home run to quickly re-tie the game at 1-1.

The Bobcats scored three more runs before the Flashes got back on the board.

OU used a fielder’s choice, an RBI triple, and an RBI double to score those three runs, making the score 4-1.

The lead was cut into with junior right fielder Jake Casey’s third home run of the season, a two-run shot to make it 4-3.

The Flashes knotted the game up with a sacrifice fly.

A couple of hits with the bases loaded gave OU five critical runs, and the Bobcats ran away with game one 9-4.

The loss was assigned to sophomore reliever Jordan Kolenda.

His record is 0-3 for the season, and he allowed three hits, four earned runs and two walks in 0.1 innings.

Game one’s start went to junior Jake Kartsonas, who preserved his 2-2 record after the game.

The righty pitched 4.1 innings and allowed six hits, three earned runs, four walks, and struck out four in his outing.

The Flashes’ five-game winning streak was snapped with the loss.

Game 2

The Flashes lost game two and the overall series on a heartbreaker.

The two teams went back and forth for all nine innings, but OU came away with the 10-9 victory after a walk-off.

Junior Eric Chalus got the start for game two.

Chalus has won his last two starts and has a 3-1 overall record this season.

He pitched four innings in Saturday’s game, however, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits, three walks and four strikeouts.

After an empty first inning, the Flashes put two on the board with two solo home runs.

The first came off senior shortstop Michael McNamara’s bat. It was his third of the season.

The second was courtesy of Casey, his second of the series and fourth of the season.

Chalus was met with opposition in his portion of the second inning. A bases-clearing three-RBI double put OU up 3-2 on one swing of the bat.

Jackson tied the game back up in the third inning with another solo home run, his second of the series and fourth this season.

OU got back on top and had a two-run advantage after the bottom of the third inning by using two RBI singles to get there.

KSU had the next three runs by using a fielder’s choice, a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly.

By the top of the eighth inning, OU was up 8-6 after using a solo home run and two RBI singles, but KSU took a late lead with an RBI single from Casey, an RBI double from redshirt freshman catcher Ripken Reese, and a sacrifice fly from freshman left fielder Bo Shinkle.

It was 9-8 going into the ninth inning, with the Flashes having the advantage.

There was no score in the top of the ninth, but KSU kept graduate student reliever Joe Miceli in to close the door.

He had pitched four innings up to that point and three runs had scored under his direction in that time.

Miceli got a strikeout after surrendering a walk to the inning’s first batter, but a single, followed by a double, tied the game with one out still.

With runners on second and third with one out, KSU intentionally walked a batter before allowing a game-sealing RBI single on the next batter, giving OU the 10-9 shootout win.

Miceli picked up the loss, his first of the season.

Game 3

The Flashes went into game three looking to salvage a game in the series after dropping the first two.

They did that with a huge outburst from the offense in a seven-inning statement.

Redshirt junior Calvin Bickerstaff got the win in game three to improve to 2-2 on the season.

He pitched five innings, allowing two earned runs, three hits, zero walks and four strikeouts.

He did not need help as the Flashes pounded OU’s pitching.

The first runs were scored after a quiet first inning.

Casey continued to have a good series, as he contributed a sacrifice fly to give KSU an early 1-0 lead.

OU would tie the game up shortly after with an RBI single.

In the fifth inning, KSU was down 2-1, but after three outs, the Flashes were up 14-2.

Jackson started the inning with a bunt single and stole second base.

Redshirt senior center fielder Josh Johnson brought Jackson home with an RBI single.

Johnson had gone three games without plating an RBI before his first of seven RBIs in Sunday’s game broke the plane.

Johnson stole second and third, scoring on a single from freshman designated hitter Dom Kibler.

A two-RBI double, an RBI double and an RBI single gave KSU an 8-2 lead with outs still to play with.

Johnson doubled with his second at-bat of the inning, bringing in two more runs.

An RBI single brought in another run, but the scoring was capped off with a three-run blast from Kibler, his third of the season.

Johnson added to his RBI total by two after hitting his third home run of the season, putting KSU up 16-2.

After OU put up two huge runs, Kent State capped off the last inning by scoring six more runs for good measure.

Johnson finished off his 4-5 day with a two-RBI double down the left field line, increasing the lead to 18-4.

Johnson had two doubles, one home run, one single and seven RBIs in Sunday’s game after having one hit in nine plate appearances in the first two games.

A bases-loaded walk, an RBI single, and a two-RBI single finished off the scoring.

KSU pitched well in the last inning and closed the seven-inning game by a 22-4 score.

Every starting batter had a hit, RBI or run scored in the game.

Looking ahead

The Flashes will have a one-off game against Pitt before returning home for the weekend.

The game will be Tuesday with a 3 p.m. first pitch.

Redshirt sophomore Rocco Bernadina is set to be the starter. He earned the win against Youngstown State his last time out in the Flashes’ knockout 27-0 victory.

The team has scored 17 or more runs three times this season, all occurring in the last five games.

Pitt is 10-7 on the season but is 1-5 in conference play.

The Panthers sit in last place in the Atlantic Coastal Conference and have won two of their previous eight games.

The winning streak may be over, but the Flashes will try to win their ninth of the last 12 games before returning home to play a three-game series against Saint Joseph’s, with the series starting Friday.

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].
Cadie Pierce, Photographer
Cadie Pierce (she/they) is a Senior Integrative Studies major and Photojournalism minor and staff photographer for KentWired/Kent Stater. Cadie can be reached at [email protected].

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