Flashes overcome mistakes to secure victory in home opener

Kent State redshirt junior Robert Ziegler pitches against University of Pittsburgh at Schoonover Stadium on Tuesday, March 21, 2017. Kent State won 7-6.

Scott Lendak

Junior pitcher Robert Ziegler pointed at junior catcher Tim Dalporto after striking out a batter to record the third out of the fifth inning in the Flashes’ (12-6) 7-6 victory over University of Pittsburgh (8-10).

“I thought Ziegler was pretty efficient,” coach Jeff Duncan said. “I thought he did a really good job of battling. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but I thought he battled and did a good job.”

Ziegler started his first career game in a Kent State uniform and threw five innings with five strikeouts and allowed one unearned run.

“I was in some trouble today and was fortunately able to work out of it,” Ziegler said. “You really have to bear down (and) try to make a pitch to get yourself out of the tough innings.”

Dalporto said Ziegler threw well on the mound, and the team was trying to rally behind him to get the win.

“He was pounding the strike zone and getting ahead early,” Dalporto said. “He did a nice job of commanding his off-speed pitches, which makes him electric. He fought for us in the first five innings, so we thought we should fight to get him the win.”

The Flashes trailed until a four-run 7th inning highlighted by a junior Dylan Rosa three-run home run. Rosa finished with two hits and three RBI.

“We told the guys to not change their swings,” Duncan said. “We hit a lot of balls hard early that weren’t finding holes, but our guys don’t let results dictate how they’re going to play the rest of the game. We eventually found some holes and Dylan Rosa’s home run was obviously a difference maker for us.”

The Flashes committed two errors in the field, hit three Pittsburgh batters and walked seven. Duncan said the team would need to address these problems in order to be successful.

“We spotted them at least three runs from giving up free bases and errors,” Duncan said. “Those things are going to happen, but you don’t want to string them together in the same inning. If you do that, teams are going to make you pay, especially in college baseball.”

Dalporto recorded three hits in four at-bats and scored one run.

“I was trying to work to my strength, which is hitting the ball to the opposite field,” Dalporto said. “I was just trying to get good pitches to hit, and luckily they were on the outer half so I could just go with it.”

The Flashes were scoreless until the fifth inning when senior Dom Iero doubled to right field to score Dalporto. The Flashes then took the lead from a single by sophomore Josh Hollander that got through the left side of the infield.

“We made solid contact, and I told our guys we had good at-bats all day,” Duncan said. “We have a lot of veteran hitters, and we finally started to find some holes.”

The Flashes had a one-run lead with two outs in the top of the ninth inning when Rosa made a sliding catch in left field to end the game. Junior Zach Spangler recorded the save for the Flashes.

“We spotted them three runs,” Duncan said. “But we swung the bat really well, we made pitches when we needed to, and we made plays when we needed to. At the end of that day, that’s all you can ask for.”

The Flashes will open up Mid-American Conference play when the team travels to face Ball State University at 2 p.m. on Friday in the first of a three-game series.

Scott Lendak is a sports reporter, contact him at [email protected].