Flashes win fourth straight after weekend sweep at Toledo

Kent+State+starting+pitcher+Jared+Skolnicki+throws+a+pitch+to+a+Pittsburgh+batter+during+the+Flashes+2-0+win+over+Pittsburgh+on+April+18%2C+2018.+Kent+State+swept+the+two-game+season+series+against+the+Panthers.

Kent State starting pitcher Jared Skolnicki throws a pitch to a Pittsburgh batter during the Flashes’ 2-0 win over Pittsburgh on April 18, 2018. Kent State swept the two-game season series against the Panthers.

Ian Kreider

 The Kent State baseball team sent a message the past week after a series loss at home last weekend to Ohio.

Kent State (28-12, 13-5 Mid-American Conference) has outscored its opponents, 30-7, in the last four games.

“We’re not thinking about the result,” Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said. “We’re thinking about winning one pitch at a time.”

Game 1: Kent State 3, Toledo 1

The Flashes scored all three runs in the first inning after senior catcher Tim Dalporto crushed a three-run home run to left field. From that point on, both teams struggled to hit the ball.

Kent State junior pitcher Joey Murray allowed only one hit over 7.1 innings, while striking out eight and walking five. Freshman pitcher Collin Romel took over to close the game out. The lefty struck out two batters and allowed two hits and one run in his 1.2 innings pitched to secure the 3-1 win for the Flashes.

Game 2: Kent State 4, Toledo 2

Toledo (14-26, 8-10 MAC) grabbed an early 2-0 lead after the first inning on patient two-out at-bats.

Kent State cut the lead to 2-1. Freshman designated hitter Nick Elsen started the inning off with a single to left field. Freshman third baseman Michael Turner singled to center, which advanced Elsen to second. Back-to-back groundouts led to Elsen advancing home.

In the fourth, Elsen again started the inning off well for the Flashes, as he hit a double to left. Freshman Greg Lewandoski doubled to left to drive in Elsen later in the inning to knot it up at 2.

Senior right fielder Nick Kanavas walked and stole second to put himself in scoring position with two outs. Dalporto singled, Kanavas was able to score from second and the Flashes secured their first lead of the day, 3-2, after five innings. 

The Flashes would add an insurance run in the eighth to go up, 4-2. Freshman Jack Zimmerman and senior Jared Skolnicki closed the door, as they combined to pitch two scoreless innings, while allowing only one hit.

Game 3: Kent State 13, Toledo 3

The Flashes came to play in the final game of the series. They outscored Toledo, 12-0, through seven innings. Senior pitcher Eli Kraus was able to keep the Rockets under control through seven, while allowing five hits.

Toledo was able to break through and add three runs in the eighth to cut the lead to 12-3, but Kent State added one more run in the ninth to squash the rally attempt.

The Flashes finished with 17 hits on the day, two more than the previous two games combined.

“I thought we played some of our best baseball this weekend,” Duncan said. “On the mound, we had Joey, Skolnicki and Eli who each threw really well, and the defense behind them was really good.”

Kent State will continue its season at 3 p.m. Tuesday as it takes on Wright State (28-13, 16-5 Horizon League) at Nischwitz Stadium in Fairborn, Ohio. The Raiders are currently riding a four-game win streak.

“They have played really good baseball over the last 10 years,” Duncan said. “It looks like they are very identical to us in a lot of ways, so it should be a really good matchup.”

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