Flashes pummel Miami (OH) for 12th MAC Championship


The Kent State baseball team jumps on top of senior pitcher Eli Kraus following the Flashes’ 14-0 win in the MAC Championship game on May 27, 2018. Kraus threw a two-hit complete game shutout, striking out 12. 

Cameron Hoover

The Kent State baseball team rode an impressive pitching performance from Eli Kraus and took advantage of plenty of pitching miscues from Miami (OH) en route to its 12th MAC Championship with an 14-0 win over the Redhawks.

Kraus finished with a complete game shutout, striking out 12 Redhawks in his nine innings of work, allowing just two hits. Kraus struck out the side in the ninth inning to slam the door. 

“He was just tremendous,” Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said. “Eli’s a big-stage pitcher. He always has been. He loves the lights. He loves it all. There’s not too many people that are more competitive than him, and he’s one of the best pitchers in the history of this program.”

The Flashes (39-16) dominated from the first pitch and never trailed. Junior catcher Pete Schuler got the scoring started in the bottom of the first with a single to right field. The Flashes added another in the frame when Miami (OH) starter Spencer Mraz hit Michael Turner with a pitch, something that would become a theme as the night progressed.

Mason Mamarella brought home another run with a single in the second, and the Redhawks pitching staff imploded in the third. Josh Hollander picked up a hard-earned RBI after getting hit by another Mraz pitch, his 24th hit batter of the year.

Freshman right-hander Jay Wilson came in to relieve Mraz with the bases still loaded, but he plunked Nick Kanavas, the first batter he faced, to put the Flashes up, 5-0.

The pitching issues continued for Miami (OH) in the fourth, as Michael Turner whacked an RBI ground-rule double to left center field. Patrick Ferguson scored on a wild pitch during the next at-bat to put the Flashes up, 7-0.

Kent State added another run in the bottom of the sixth on a Greg Lewandoski fielder’s choice, then two more on a bases-loaded single from Josh Hollander in the eighth. For good measure, Mamarella added another on an RBI single, and Hollander scored on a wild pitch. Pavin Parks added a two-run home run to cap off the game.

The MAC title is the Flashes’ 12th, putting themselves eight above second-place Eastern Michigan for the most all-time. It’s the team’s first since 2014, and it serves as some vindication for the team that was bounced early from the last two tournaments despite holding the No. 1 seed.

“We’ve had that taste in our mouth, and we’ve been on the wrong side of it the last three years,” Duncan said. “It’s good to be on the right side.”

Kraus, a senior, said the team isn’t done yet.

“I have no words; it’s crazy,” Kraus said. “We’ve been so close twice in my career. We just said, ‘Whatever, we’re going to do it, and we’re going to do it now.’ It was awesome.”

Kraus was named tournament MVP, and Parks, Hollander and senior pitcher Jared Skolnicki were named to the All-Tournament Team. 

After the MAC Championship, the Flashes await to hear where they will go for their NCAA Tournament Regional. Regionals take place from June 1 through June 4. The Selection Show is at noon Monday on ESPNU.

Cameron Hoover is the managing editor. Contact him at [email protected].