Baseball sweeps Wildcats in Friday doubleheader

Kent+State+Zach+Schultz+%28%2336%29+Pitching+in+Fridays+Game+against+Northwestern+University.+Kent+State+won+11-5.+March+15%2C+2019.

Kent State Zach Schultz (#36) Pitching in Friday’s Game against Northwestern University. Kent State won 11-5. March 15, 2019.

John Conley

The Kent State baseball team totaled 23 runs in its Friday doubleheader against Northwestern University. The Flashes scored 15 of those runs with two outs.

That led the Flashes to a sweep over the Wildcats by scores of 11-5 and 12-1.

“When you have two out hits, it’s frustrating for a pitcher,” coach Jeff Duncan said. “That was a defining moment in our games not only to extend innings, but we were able to score runs and put people on base.”

Kent State scored eight runs in the first two innings of game one, highlighted by senior Pavin Parks’ second inning grand slam.

“Things like that are always a spark for the team,” Parks said. “My teammates did a great job all day getting hits and getting on base for the chance to drive in runs. We continue to build confidence and hope that we can stay in this positive direction.”

The Flashes kept Northwestern off balance by spraying hits all over the field, giving the Wildcat pitchers a difficult time.

The Flashes combined for 14 hits in game one. In total, seven starters reached base. Pete Schuler and Parks each hit a home run and combined for five hits driving in five runs. Schuler finished a triple away from the cycle.

“There is a certain comfort zone you get when building a lead,” Duncan said. “We were able to capitalize on hitting with Pavin Parks’ grand slam. Pete Schuler is really focused right now hitting the ball all over. Our middle of the lineup was on it during both games.”

Senior pitcher Connor Wollersheim started game one for the Flashes, going six innings while allowing three earned runs off seven hits while striking out seven.

Wollersheim picked up his first win of the season after starting out 0-3. He has an ERA of 1.88, which is good for 19th in the MAC.

“When our pitchers are doing good like that and we hit as well as we did, we are going to be a tough team to contend with,” outfielder Greg Lewandoski said. “It feels good to have everyone on the team rolling and getting comfortable.”

Game two turned out similar for the Flashes, as their bats continued to set the tone. In total, Kent State recorded a season-high 16 hits in the 12-1 victory.

Schuler added another home run with two outs in the bottom of the first to open the scoring.

Kent State put up four more on the scoreboard in the third inning, forcing the Wildcats to make an early pitching change. Freshman Justin Kirby put together his best collegiate performance, going 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and a triple while tallying three RBI and four runs scored.

Junior John Matthews performed well on the mound, going six innings to pick up his first win of the season. Matthews struck out six while only allowing five hits.

“I like where we are going as a club,” Duncan said. “We are building and growing as a team causing less mistakes in the field and on the basepaths. Our pitching performance from Wollersheim in game one was outstanding followed by Matthews with another strong outing. Our bullpen also stepped up in both games keeping Northwestern from scoring more runs.”

The Flashes’ Saturday tilt against the Wildcats was canceled due to inclement weather.

The Flashes are back in action on Wednesday with a single road tilt against the University of Pittsburgh. The Panthers currently sit at 7-11 and are coming off a win against Virginia Tech.

Kent State enters with a 7-10 record and a three-game winning streak on the line. The Flashes are back home this weekend in their conference opener against Miami (OH) on Friday and Saturday.

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