Flashes struggle in late innings, lose series to visiting Ohio

Robert+Zeigler+came+on+in+relief+to+pitch+for+Kent+State+on+April+21%2C+2018%2C+during+the+Flashes+5-3+loss+to+Ohio+in+12+innings.+The+Flashes+would+go+on+to+drop+the+series+against+the+Bobcats.%C2%A0

Robert Zeigler came on in relief to pitch for Kent State on April 21, 2018, during the Flashes’ 5-3 loss to Ohio in 12 innings. The Flashes would go on to drop the series against the Bobcats. 

Ian Kreider

While early offensive productivity has been a staple for the Kent State baseball team all season long, the Flashes have struggled at times to close games out.

This weekend’s series loss against Ohio (19-20, 7-8 Mid-American Conference) was a prime example.

Game 1: Kent State 5, Ohio 3

Kent State (24-12, 10-5 MAC) came out strong, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take an early 2-0 lead on junior third baseman Pavin Parks’ two-run home run.

The Flashes then added a few insurance runs through the middle innings. The third inning started with two quick outs. Senior center fielder Mason Mamarella was the next up to the plate. His patient at-bat led to a walk. During the next at-bat, he stole second and was able to score from senior catcher Tim Dalporto’s single up the middle.

The Flashes were able to add another run in the fifth after a leadoff triple by Greg Lewandoski. Senior right fielder Nick Kanavas drove him in with a double to right field to make it 4-0 Kent State. The Flashes would add one more run in the sixth to improve their lead to 5-0.

However, the Bobcats would respond in the ninth. A walk and a single put two men on as senior designated hitter Michael Klein came up to bat. He hit a triple and would score on an error to cut the Flashes’ lead to 5-3.

Sophomore pitcher John Matthews came in and recorded the final two outs en route to a nail-biting 5-3 win.

Game 2: Ohio 5, Kent State 3 (12 innings)

The Flashes again were able to jump out to an early lead, this time in the third inning on a Lewandoski solo home run. They would cause even more damage during the inning as Mamarella tripled and would later score thanks to a Dalporto double.

It appeared the Flashes were on their way to their ninth straight victory as they added another run in the sixth inning to make it 3-0. However, Ohio would respond yet again as they scored one run in the seventh and two in the eighth to tie the game at three.

Neither team was able to score in the ninth, so the game headed to extra innings. It appeared that Ohio was going to take control in the top of the tenth after a leadoff walk, single and sac bunt put runners on second and third with only one out. Senior Zach Spangler came in to pitch for the Flashes and forced the last two outs of the inning via popout and groundout.

Kent State’s offense was not as fortunate, as they had only two hits in the final three innings. The Bobcats offense broke through in the 12th and scored two runs on a Klein double to make it 5-3.

This was Kent State’s first loss of the season after leading through six innings.

Game 3: Ohio 6, Kent State 4

The final game of the series set the tempo as Kent State was able to get on the board early, but defensive miscues and solid pitching by Ohio had them fall short for the second game in a row.

The Bobcats were down, 4-0, heading into the top of the seventh after six scoreless innings by Kent State senior pitcher Eli Kraus. Kraus struck out seven and appeared to be on the way to his seventh win of the season. Kraus was knocked around during the inning, giving up four runs on three hits.

The seventh inning saw two pitching changes by the Flashes and five runs scored by Ohio. Kent State’s offense was unable to respond to the late push by the Bobcats, which resulted in their second MAC home series loss of the season.

Kent State continues its season as they take on Canisius at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Demske Sports Complex. The Flashes pulled out a 13-11 win against Canisius the last time the two teams met on April 11.

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