Flashes move closer to locking up No. 1 seed with series win vs. Eastern Michigan

Kent State junior Pavin Parks swings Saturday during the Flashes’ game against Ohio. Kent State lost, 5-3, in extra innings.

Ian Kreider

The Kent State baseball team tightened its grip on the top spot in the Mid-American Conference this weekend.

Kent State (34-14, 14-5 MAC) dropped the first game in the series against Eastern Michigan (20-30, 12-12 MAC) on Friday. However, the team was able to bounce back and secure the final two games of the series.

Game 1: Eastern Michigan 8, Kent State 4

The first two Kent State batters reached base via a hit by pitch and a walk. Senior right fielder Nick Kanavas advanced the runners into scoring position after a sacrifice bunt. Junior second baseman Pavin Parks drove in a run from third after an infield groundout. The Flashes led, 1-0, after the first inning.

The Eagles would respond in the top of the third. They put up four runs, three of which were knocked in with two outs. Kent State was unable to put together a big inning to respond as they only mustered a run in the bottom of the third.

The Flashes were able to tie the game in the sixth as a leadoff single by Kanavas put them in business. Kanavas put on his PF Flyers as he scored during the next at-bat, a double by Parks to cut the lead to 4-3. Senior catcher Tim Dalporto hit an infield single that caused an error, which allowed Parks to score to knot it up, 4-4.

Eastern Michigan would not be denied though, as they trickled in two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to take a commanding 8-4 lead heading into the final inning.

The Flashes lost, 8-4, despite allowing only six hits.

Game 2: Kent State 6, Eastern Michigan 3

Eastern Michigan carried the momentum from the previous game to a 3-1 lead after three innings. It looked like the Eagles were about to coast to their second win of the series after holding Kent State scoreless through six innings.

The Flashes responded in the seventh with three runs. Two errors put two runners on base with only one out with freshman designated hitter Michael Turner stepping up to the plate. Turner smacked a single to right field that drove in two runs to tie the game at 3-3. Turner would later score off a single by junior catcher Pete Schuler as the Flashes took their first lead of the day, 4-3.

Senior left fielder Reilly Hawkins crushed a two-run home run to right field in the eighth to secure the 6-3 win.

Game 3: Kent State 6, Eastern Michigan 4

Both teams had a slow start through the first two innings, combining for just two hits. The Flashes opened the floodgates in the third as they scored four runs. Patient at-bats culminated in wild pitches to put three runners on base with one out. A fourth walk scored the first run. Schuler hit a double to center, which emptied the bases.

Eastern Michigan added two runs in the top of the fifth, but Kent State countered with two runs of their own to make it 6-2. The Eagles added two more runs in the eighth to make it interesting, but the Flashes held on for the 6-4 win.

Kent State continues its season at 12 p.m. Tuesday as the Flashes take on Youngstown State (17-32, 10-16 Horizon League) at Eastwood Field.

Ian Kreider is a sports reporter. Contact him at [email protected]