Kent State sweeps season series vs Pitt with 12-8 win

Kent+State+senior+infielder+Dom+Lero+throws+from+second+base+to+first+base+against+Youngstown+State+on+Tuesday+April+4%2C+2017.+Kent+lost+11-6.

Kent State senior infielder Dom Lero throws from second base to first base against Youngstown State on Tuesday April 4, 2017. Kent lost 11-6.

Nick Buzzelli

The first time the Kent State played the University of Pittsburgh this season, the team was locked in a tightly contested game against its Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. But the Flashes were able to squeak out a one run victory behind their bullpen.

The story line was similar for Wednesday’s rematch. However, despite holding a lead for much of the contest, Kent State’s bullpen had its work cut out against the Panthers, who occupy the basement of the ACC’s Coastal Division standings.                

After Kent State starting pitcher Jared Skolnicki was pulled by coach Jeff Duncan in the second following four earned runs, the bullpen took over and limited the Panthers to four runs over the game’s final 7 1/3 innings as the Flashes (21-12) were able to sweep the season series with a 12-8 win on the road at Pitt’s (16-18) Charles L. Cost Center. 

Right fielder Nick Kanavas led Kent State offensively. Kanavas, who went 3-5 from the plate with one run batted in while Luke Burch, the team’s designated hitter, and shortstop John Matthews each drove in two runs. In total, six Kent State players recorded an RBI. 

The Flashes began the game by scoring three runs in the first – two on singles by Burch and Tim DalPorto — and one on a wild pitch charged to Pitt’s Adam Cornwell. The team then added another in the second on Burch’s RBI groundout.

Pitt was able to knot the score at four in the bottom half of the inning via two run base hit and back-to-back RBI walks, and took its first and only lead of the contest in the third, courtesy of an error on DalPorto, Kent State’s catcher.

But, in the following frame, the Flashes were able to go ahead for good by scoring five runs in the fourth — all on doubles. 

Dylan Rosa then added a two-run homer in the sixth and Kanavas followed that up with a single through the left side that cushioned Kent State’s lead, 12-6.  

Pitt cut the deficit to four in the bottom of the eighth on a Jacob Wright home run, but reliever Zach Spangler then retired the final four batters he faced in order to secure the win, Kent State’s second in a row and fourth of its last five.

The Flashes begin their longest home stand of the season — seven games — this weekend against University of Toledo, a team that currently sits in third place in the Mid-American Conference’s West Division with a 7-5 mark in league play, before playing Bowling Green State University and Central Michigan University at Schoonover Stadium the following week. 

Nick Buzzelli is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected]