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RECAP: Baseball loses home winning streak, walks off Hawks

Cadie Pierce
Junior Left Fielder Jake Casey and Kolton Schaller high five right after both score on a Reese double during the Golden Flashes’ 27-0 blowout of Youngstown State on March 12, 2024.

The Kent State baseball team already lost the series to Western Michigan on the road, and the third game of the series was not looking good.

Going into the top of the eighth inning, the Flashes were staring at a 4-2 deficit Saturday.

Freshman right fielder Bo Shinkle was able to manage a walk to lead off the inning, but a fielder’s choice and a single set up the Flashes with a run opportunity.

Senior left fielder Tim Orr was standing on third when senior third baseman Kyle Jackson stole second base.

A throwing error to second base allowed Jackson to advance to third and Orr to score, cutting the deficit to one run. After a clean eighth inning of pitching, the Flashes took the plate in the top of the ninth.

Freshman catcher Ripken Reese ripped a ball down the right field line, the ball cleared the fence, and the solo shot tied the game at 4-4. Kent State was still in business after a couple of hit-by-pitch walks.

A strikeout and an infield fly-out gave KSU less wiggle room for the inning.

Orr stepped up to the plate again after scoring the run in the eighth inning. On the first pitch he saw, Orr slapped the ball down the left field line and scored the game-leading run on his double. 

The Flashes lead the game 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth.

KSU needed junior reliever Peyton Cariaco to close the door for the comeback win.

He did just that.

The reliever gave up a double, but he tallied two strikeouts in the final frame to close the game out, and KSU was able to celebrate its come-from-behind victory in the final game of the series.

Kent has gone 3-3 in the team’s most recent six games. This put KSU at 12-14 on the season overall, with a 5-4 conference record in the Mid-American Conference.

The Flashes fell to fifth in the MAC after the stretch.

Game one vs. Saint Joseph’s (Friday, March 22)

The offense was slow and hard to come by all series for the Flashes, but the team came away with the game one win at home.

Junior right fielder Jake Casey hit his sixth home run of the season to put the Flashes up early in the second inning. The solo shot put the team in a 1-0 lead.

An RBI fielder’s choice and an RBI single by Casey put the Flashes in a commanding 3-0 lead going into the seventh inning. In that inning, the pitching struggled for the first time in the game, as SJU used an RBI single and a wild pitch to plate two runs and cut the lead to one.

The Flashes added no more runs to the scoreboard, but the bullpen shut the door for the final two innings, and the Flashes held on to game one.

Junior Jack Kartsonas got the game one start and got the win. His record improved to 3-2 after his strong performance.

Kartsonas allowed three hits and three walks in six innings of work while allocating nine strikeouts and surrendering zero runs.

The only pitcher who struggled in the game was junior reliever Caden Leonard — he allowed SJU’s only two runs in his one inning of work.

Redshirt junior Benny Roebuck earned his first save of the season.

The two-inning save saw three batters get on base, but none coming across.

Game two vs. Saint Joseph’s (Sunday, March 24)

The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader featured the same score as game one of the series – a Flashes 3-2 victory.

The seven-inning duel saw redshirt junior Calvin Bickerstaff starting on the mound.

Bickerstaff pitched brilliantly through five innings. The righty conceded zero earned runs (one total) on three hits, no walks and four strikeouts.

Orr got the scoring started with a sacrifice fly in the third inning.

Saint Joseph’s answered with a game-tying RBI single in the following inning, but the Flashes regained the lead on another sacrifice fly, this time from junior second baseman Connor Ashby.

In the top of the seventh, the last inning of the game, SJU tied the game on a bases loaded walk.

The bottom of the seventh saw a similar result.

Pinch-runner Bo Shinkle came into the game after a one-out walk. Shinkle promptly stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

After a walk and a fly-out, Shinkle was still on third with two outs.

Shinkle was able to run on a wild pitch, setting up a play at the plate with the game on the line. The pinch runner beat the throw to the plate just barely, the run scored, and the Flashes walked off game two against Saint Joseph’s.

Bickerstaff pitched a great game, but the win ultimately went to sophomore reliever Jordan Kolenda, who pitched for 0.1 innings.

Kolenda earned his first win of the season, improving to 1-3 on the season.

Game three vs. Saint Joseph’s (Sunday, March 24)

The slow offensive days caught up to the Flashes, who were finally silenced this season.

The Flashes won the series but dropped the last game 5-0, the team’s first shutout loss since April 22, 2022, a 4-0 loss to Miami University (OH).

A four-run third inning sunk Kent State and SJU added another run in the sixth in the shutout.

KSU could only muster four hits during the game, while Saint Joseph’s had 12 runners on the basepaths during the game.

Graduate student Joe Miceli got the start for the last game but allowed four runs in three innings of work. Miceli (0-1) earned his first loss of the season, but five KSU relievers combined for one hit, five walks, five strikeouts and one earned run.

The Flashes’ 21-game home winning streak was halted by the Hawks.

Game one at Western Michigan (Thursday, March 28)

KSU looked to bounce back a few days later on the road against Western Michigan in a three-game series.

Game one’s start went to Kartsonas again. 

The pitcher’s last outing was against Saint Joseph’s, and the righty picked up his third win of the season. He pitched six complete innings, allowing zero earned runs on three hits and three walks while striking out nine Hawks batters.

Kartsonas came into the game with a 3-2 record, as it would remain that way at the conclusion of game one. He struck out five batters through 3.2 innings of work but allowed two earned runs on five hits and three walks before the Flashes went to the bullpen.

All three runs Kartsonas allowed came in the third inning, but by the time he exited the game, the score was 3-2.

KSU’s runs came on a senior shortstop Michael McNamara single in the first inning that scored Orr.

The score was 1-0 after the run, but Western Michigan had a big three-run second inning.

KSU would bounce back with another run in the third inning, courtesy of another McNamara run. The shortstop would line out to center field, but Jackson was on third and tagged up for the Flashes’ second run of the game.

After a clean fourth inning, the Flashes got back to work by adding another run, which tied the game at 3-3.

Pinch-hitter Connor Ashby hacked at the first pitch he saw and drove the ball over the left field wall.

The Flashes would close out their pitching side of the fifth inning, but the relief pitching fell apart from there.

A four-run sixth inning put the dagger in the Flashes, and a follow-up two-run seventh drove the dagger deeper into the hearts of KSU.

Sophomore reliever Ciaran Caughey allowed all four runs in the sixth (three earned runs). In his 1.2 relief innings, Caughey allowed two hits, one walk, and had a couple of wild pitches. He was assigned the loss in the game, and his record became 0-1 on the season.

The Flashes used four additional relievers after the pulling of Caughey.

The five relief pitchers combined for six runs (five earned), five hits, four walks, five strikeouts, and four wild pitches.

Game two at Western Michigan (Friday, March 29)

Looking to even the series, the Flashes came out swinging fast, but the KSU pitching could not keep up with the Broncos.

Casey got the Flashes up and on the board in the second inning with his team-leading seventh home run of the season, a two-run shot.

Western Michigan promptly tied the game up in the bottom half of the inning and added one run in the next two innings to take a 4-2 lead.

The Flashes cut the deficit to one on a sacrifice fly to center field from Reese.

A Bronco two-run blast in the sixth inning extended WMU’s lead to three, and another run in the eighth on a solo shot made the score 7-3.

The Flashes added two runs on a pinch-hitter Shinkle two-run single, but no more runs were added, and the Flashes dropped the second game of the three-game series.

Junior left-handed starter Eric Chalus got the ball in game two. Chalus pitched five solid innings, allowing two earned runs (four total) on nine hits, one walk and four strikeouts.

The Flashes would have won if no more runs were allowed following Chalus’ exit.

The only reliever to pitch in game two was Miceli. Through three innings, Miceli allowed three more runs on four hits and two walks while only tallying one strikeout.

Chalus would get the loss, and his record is 3-2 on the season.

Game three at Western Michigan (Saturday, March 30)

The Flashes’ comeback was completed this time in game three, Kent State’s only win in the series.

The final game in the three-game set went to Bickerstaff. Bickerstaff dealt all day, allowing two runs on six hits, zero walks and four strikeouts in six complete innings.

By the end of the sixth, the game was tied 2-2.

Graduate student Hunter Havekost put the Flashes on the board first, as it was for all three games of the series. Havekost grounded into a double play but scored the run on third at the same time.

After a couple of RBI singles for WMU, the Flashes were facing another deficit.

The deficit would only last until the sixth inning on an Orr RBI-double to right-center field.

After Bickerstaff’s day was over, the Flashes called in Roebuck from the bullpen.

In the seventh inning, Roebuck conceded two critical runs, giving WMU a two-run lead going into the eighth.

The two-run advantage was clearly nothing to the Flashes, as the team scored three runs in the final two innings to cap off its comeback and take the last game of the series.

Although Bickerstaff had an outstanding day on the bump, the win went to Cariaco (1-0), his first of the season.

Cariaco pitched the final 1.2 innings and allowed one hit to go with his three strikeouts, zero runs and zero walks performance.

Looking ahead

Kent State’s game against Ohio State April 2 was postponed due to weather conditions, with the make-up day being April 17.

Therefore, Kent’s next game will be April 5 against Eastern Michigan. The Eagles will travel to Schoonover Stadium for a three-game series that ends Sunday.

EMU is 6-2 in its last eight games but is 11-15 overall this season with a 6-3 MAC record. The team is 6-13 away from home, while KSU has won 21 of its last 22 games at home.

Last season, Eastern Michigan and KSU faced off for a three-game series in which Kent won the series two games to one.

Game one’s first pitch will be 6 p.m.

The scheduled pitcher will be Miceli, who will look to bounce back after he had a rough outing last time out against Saint Joseph’s in the team’s 5-0 shutout.

The Flashes will look to get back to winning ways at home after their 21-game home winning streak ended last time out.

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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