Flashes hold off late Canisius rally, extend win streak to three games

Senior+Mason+Mamarella+swings+at+a+pitch+against+Canisius+on+April+11%2C+2018.+The+Flashes+held+off+a+furious+ninth-inning+comeback+from+the+Griffins+to+win%2C+13-11.+%5BFILE%5D

Senior Mason Mamarella swings at a pitch against Canisius on April 11, 2018. The Flashes held off a furious ninth-inning comeback from the Griffins to win, 13-11. [FILE]

Ian Kreider

Kent State was ahead, 13-7, heading into the top of the ninth inning; it appeared the Flashes were going to coast to their eighth win in the last 10 games.

Canisius had other plans.

The Griffins (17-13, 6-3 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference) came out with the same patient approach that saw them grab a 5-4 lead in the top of the third. After the Flashes (19-10, 6-3 Mid-American Conference) retired the first two batters of the ninth, Canisius sophomore shortstop Stephen Bennett crushed a triple to the center field wall. During the next at-bat, senior pitcher Robert Zeigler threw a wild pitch that allowed Bennett to score from third, cutting the Kent State lead to 13-8.

Zeigler struggled after the triple, allowing a three-run homer to senior first baseman Liam Wilson to put the game in question, 13-11.

“I felt like the game was speeding up on Zeigler,” Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said. “He’s coming off an injury. There was a play at second base that didn’t go our way, and any time you give guys extra outs, they can hurt you.”

Zeigler regained his control as he forced the last out of the game to help Kent State improve to nine games over .500, their best mark all season.

“We learned a lot today,” Duncan said. “The game is never over. We need to keep up our attitude and energy throughout the game.”

The teams went back and forth early in the game, as the lead changed hands three times in the first three innings. Kent State came out slower than usual, held scoreless in the first inning.

However, the Flashes were able to flip the switch in the second inning as they scored four runs after three quality at-bats that saw two walks, a double and the Flashes’ first lead of the game, 2-1. Senior left fielder Reilly Hawkins crushed a solo home run that pushed the lead to 3-1. Senior center fielder Mason Mamarella drove in another run with a single to center field.

Both teams had their fair share of pitching struggles. The teams combined to score 17 runs through four innings.

“When you’re on a second day of a midweek (series), it can always be a little interesting,” Duncan said.

The Flashes will look to carry their offensive momentum into their next series, which starts Friday at 6 p.m. as they take on Northern Illinois at Schoonover Stadium. The Huskies will put their two-game win streak on the line as they take on their seventh MAC opponent of the season.

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