Flashes split road series at Notre Dame

Kent State second baseman Greg Lewandoski tags out a would-be base stealer from Youngstown State during the Flashes’ 7-2 victory on March 20, 2018. 

Ian Kreider

Kent State has had one constant struggle so far this season: the bullpen.

The bullpen came into the series against Notre Dame on Tuesday allowing eight runs per loss. However, it had one of its best series of the season during the two-game nonconference tilt against the Fighting Irish, which the Flashes split.

Game 1: Kent State 4, Notre Dame 1

Kent State (12-9, 1-2 Mid-American Conference) started the game by stranding two runners in the first, but it was able to get on the board in the second after junior shortstop Josh Hollander’s two-out double to right field.

They shut down Notre Dame (11-13, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) in just four batters in the bottom of the inning. Kent State looked as though they were going to have a short third inning after senior center fielder Mason Mamarella struck out looking to lead off the inning, but junior third baseman Pavin Parks sparked the offense as he hit a single to left. Senior first baseman Brad Hamilton followed with a quality at-bat that saw him reach first on a walk.

Senior catcher Tim Dalporto singled to right field to drive in Parks from second to extend the lead to 2-0. The inning again ended with the Flashes leaving a runner in scoring position.

Notre Dame responded with a barrage of hits in the bottom of the inning; however, they were only able to muster one run.

The Flashes added two more runs in the sixth inning to make it 4-1.

Senior pitcher Jared Skolnicki had one of the longest outings on the mound for a Kent State pitcher this season as he threw 7.1 innings, allowing only one run on eight hits. The lefty also had six strikeouts and two walks.

Freshman pitcher Collin Romel was called on to close the game after the Fighting Irish put two runners on base with one out. Romel responded by retiring the final five batters to seal the win, the Flashes’ second road victory over a Power Five opponent this season.

Game 2: Notre Dame 2, Kent State 1

This game was a fitting end to a series that saw 29 combined hits, but only eight runs. The teams both struggled, leaving a couple runners each in scoring position almost every inning.

Kent State started this game similarly to how they start most games: by jumping out to an early lead. After an unsuccessful first inning, the Flashes scored in the top of the second after a solo home run by Dalporto to make it 1-0. 

The Flashes’ bullpen was able to keep the Fighting Irish at bay until the bottom of the fourth when they scored to knot it up at 1-1.

Notre Dame then shut down the Kent State offense, allowing just two hits after the fourth inning. The Flashes’ bullpen remained in control until the bottom of the eighth when senior left fielder Alex Kerschner hit a two-out single to left field that drove in a run, which gave Notre Dame its first lead of the series.

Kent State had a disappointing ninth inning that saw two runners thrown out at the plate, which ultimately ended their hopes of a comeback. Notre Dame won the series finale, 2-1.  

Kent State continues its season at 3 p.m. Friday when it takes on Western Michigan in the first game of a three-game series in Kalamazoo, Michigan, at Hyames Field at Robert J. Bobb Stadium.

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