Offensive explosions lead Kent State to series win over Central Michigan


Kent State junior Josh Hollander throws from second to first for the out on March 25, 2018. The Flashes lost to Ball State, 7-2.

Ian Kreider

Kent State scored eight or more runs in two of their three wins over Western Michigan the previous weekend, and that offensive efficiency only improved when they took on Central Michigan.

The Flashes combined for 30 runs in their two wins over the Chippewas on the weekend, leading them to stay in first place atop the Mid-American Conference.

“We had good balance throughout the lineup,” Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said of his team’s offensive productivity.

Game 1: Kent State 11, Central Michigan 3

The game started off as a pitcher’s duel that saw nine combined hits through six scoreless innings. The Flashes were able to get on the board in the top of the seventh as sophomore designated hitter Patrick Ferguson drove in a run on a single.

Kent State (17-10, 6-3 Mid-American Conference) couldn’t be stopped in the seventh as they drove in seven more runs to take a commanding 8-0 lead heading into the bottom of the inning.

Central Michigan (10-20-1, 5-4 MAC) was able to muster three runs through the final two innings as the Flashes combined to allow seven hits on the day, and junior pitcher Joey Murray improved to 4-1 on the season.

Game 2: Central Michigan 5, Kent State 1

The game had a very similar start to the first game of the series; both teams struggled to score early on, scoring only one run each through four innings. However, the Chippewas were able to seize their first lead of the series in the fifth inning.

Kent State’s pitching ran into some issues as junior pitcher Connor Wollersheim threw two wild pitches that put runners in scoring position. Despite allowing only three hits, the Flashes were down, 5-1, through five innings.

The cold temperature iced any chance of a comeback, and Kent State was held to only two hits the remainder of the contest as their four-game winning streak was snapped.

Game 3: Kent State 19, Central Michigan 3

The Flashes came out aggressively in the final game of the series and put up five runs in the top of the first to claim an early lead just a few minutes after their offensive struggles from the previous game.

“I think it was a response,” Duncan said. “I don’t think they were very happy with how we played in game two, and I think they had a lot more energy and a better attitude.”

Kent State put up four runs in the top of the third behind patient at-bats and smart baserunning. Senior first baseman Brad Hamilton got the momentum rolling with a leadoff single. The Flashes had only three hits all inning, but they were able to force two errors and ultimately grab an early 9-0 lead.

Kent State went on to score 10 more runs, en route to their largest win over Central Michigan in program history. Senior left fielder Reilly Hawkins was the first player to have a four-hit game since Luke Burch did last April.

The Flashes will continue their season at 6 p.m. on Tuesday as they take on the University of Pittsburgh (17-11, 6-9 Atlantic Coast Conference) at Charles L. Cost Field.

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