Skolnicki dominates, Flashes advance to MAC Championship

Kent+State+senior+Jared+Skolnicki+winds+up+for+a+pitch+during+the+Flashes+7-2+win+over+Miami+%28OH%29+to+advance+to+the+MAC+Championship.+Skolnicki+struck+out+eight+Redhawks+in+8+2%2F3+innings.

Kent State senior Jared Skolnicki winds up for a pitch during the Flashes’ 7-2 win over Miami (OH) to advance to the MAC Championship. Skolnicki struck out eight Redhawks in 8 2/3 innings.

Breanna Horn

The Kent State baseball team’s patience and loaded pitching staff paid off for the Flashes on Friday, as starter Jared Skolnicki threw 8 2/3 stellar innings in their 7-2 win over Miami (OH) at Sprenger Stadium in Avon, Ohio.

Skolnicki, a senior, threw 99 pitches in his near complete game, but got pulled in the ninth after surrendering two runs.

“It was one of the better games we’ve played all year,” Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said. “We’ve played good baseball all year long. Skolnicki’s start was gutsy. His changeup was really good, and his fastball was heavy. Tremendous start from him.”

The afternoon sun was beating down on both teams at the start, with the temperature reaching nearly 90 degrees, and the Flashes kept up the heat in the first inning. Kent State got three men on base after senior Nick Kanavas was hit by a pitch, and he came around to score on a sacrifice fly by junior Pete Schuler.

Skolnicki had stout defense behind him all night, as the Flashes turned two rally-killing double plays. The Kent State defense also had some stellar individual efforts, as junior Josh Hollander snuffed out an early Redhawk threat with a backhand pick and throw to get Miami (OH)’s Will Vogelgesang at first.  

The Flashes’ knockout blow came in the fourth inning. After freshman Greg Lewandoski brought in Brad Hamilton on a fielder’s choice, Kanavas and Mason Mamarella hit back-to-back doubles that not only scored three runs, but also knocked out Miami starter Gus Graham.

Kent State went on to add one more run in the seventh inning, which was more than enough support for Skolnicki.

“We were going to ride (Skolnicki) as long as he wanted to go,” Duncan said. “He did a great job. Good defense behind him as well. Really well-played game. Real proud of our guys.”

Kent State will play again at 6 p.m. Saturday at the same site in the championship game. Miami (OH) and Central Michigan will play at 12:30 p.m., with the winner taking on the Flashes.

“We’re locked and loaded,” Skolnicki said. “We’ve got three more starters left, as well as a lot of artillery left in the bullpen. We’re going to be ready. You need to win three games in this tournament to move on. We’re not done yet.”

Breanna Horn is the health and wellness reporter. Contact her at [email protected]