Flashes lose first MAC series at home since 2015

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Kent State reliever John Matthews releases a pitch during the Flashes’ 7-2 loss to Ball State on March 25, 2018. 

Ian Kreider

The Kent State bullpen struggled two out of the three games this weekend against Ball State, as the Flashes lost their first Mid-American Conference home series since 2015. The Flashes’ relievers allowed a combined eight runs in both losses from the seventh inning on.

Game 1: Ball State 5, Kent State 1

Ball State (12-11, 2-1 MAC) jumped out to a productive second inning as junior catcher Chase Sebby hit a double to left field. Freshman second baseman Noah Navarro smacked a two-run home run with two outs that drove in Sebby and put Ball State up, 2-0, a rare early deficit for the Flashes.

Kent State (11-8, 1-2 MAC) responded quickly, as junior third baseman Pavin Parks hit a leadoff triple to left center field. He scored on the next play when senior first baseman Brad Hamilton grounded out to cut the lead to 2-1.

This was the only success the Flashes would have at the plate for the rest of the afternoon, as they were held scoreless with only two hits in the remaining seven innings.

The Cardinals had their fair share of offensive efficiency. They were able to score three more runs between the seventh and eighth innings to extend their lead and take the first game of the series, 5-1.

Game 2: Kent State 11, Ball State 0

Both teams were held scoreless through two innings. The Flashes were able to get things started in the bottom of the third after aggressive baserunning from senior center fielder Mason Mamarella and senior right fielder Nick Kanavas put them in scoring position. Two batters later, senior catcher Tim Dalporto cracked a single to the right side that scored both runners. Kent State had their first lead of the series, 2-0.

They were able to add some insurance runs late as they scored four runs in the sixth and five in the eighth to put the game out of reach.

The Flashes’ pitching was just as dominant as their hitting. Joey Murray and Austin Havekost combined to allow seven hits, while striking out 11 and walking only two.

Game 3: Ball State 7, Kent State 2

The Flashes had a hot start to the series finale as they led, 2-0, after three innings with Hamilton earning both RBI.

However, the offense came to a quick halt after a pitching change was made by Ball State in the bottom of the fifth inning that saw junior Nick Floyd take control of the mound.

“He was mainly throwing fastballs,” Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said. “He kept the ball to the big field, and that lead to their success, especially on a day like this.”

Floyd allowed only one hit in his five innings, while striking out two. His impact on the game was telling; however, the Flashes defense struggled as well, in particular their pitching.

Senior Eli Kraus started the game well until he allowed a two-run home run by Ball State junior first baseman John Ricotta in the fifth inning to knot the game at 2.

Kraus was pulled shortly after allowing the home run, but the defense struggled even more after he was replaced, allowing five more runs. The team fell, 7-2, and lost their first three-game series against Ball State since 2014.

Kent State will look to bounce back as they play Notre Dame at 6:05 pm Tuesday at Frank Bend Stadium in South Bend, Indiana as a part of a two-game tilt.

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