Baseball struggles in Virginia tournament


Kent State Senior Troy Summers taking a big cut during the second game of a doubleheader against Oakland. The Flashes went on to win 16-1, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

Andrew Bugel

Baseball struggles in Virginia tournament

The Kent State Flashes baseball team (6-6) traveled to Lynchburg, Virginia this weekend to take on Liberty in a three-game series. Friday’s game was cancelled and the teams played a doubleheader on Saturday, with Kent State winning game one and Liberty taking game two.

Kent was not able to win the series on Sunday however, as they fell to Liberty in the final game of the three-game series.

Game 1: Saturday March 7, 2:05 p.m. Kent State 7, Liberty 4

Strikeouts were the name of the game Saturday for Kent State pitchers as they mowed down Liberty batters starting in game one of the doubleheader.

Junior starter Nick Jensen-Clagg picked up his third win of the season to move to 3-1 and also had a career-high in strikeouts with nine over 6.1 innings.

The Flashes scored seven runs off 12 hits, scoring runs in each of the first three innings.

Junior Zarley Zalewski went 4-5 on the afternoon to lead all hitters. He also scored twice and had 3 RBI, including a two-run homer in the first inning.

Senior Sawyer Polen added two hits of his own with an RBI.

Liberty was able to answer back with two runs in the second inning, but Kent pitching shut them down the rest of the way.

Freshman Zach Willeman earned his second save of the season and the Flashes headed into game two of the doubleheader with momentum on their side.

Game 2: Saturday March 7, 5:50 p.m. Liberty 4, Kent State 3 (F/12)

Again, Kent State opened up early and looked to put the game in cruise control until Liberty made a late comeback and stole the victory.

Sophomore starter Eric Lauer went 5.2 innings in the no-decision and only gave up one earned run. He also set a career-high in strikeouts on the afternoon with 10.

Trouble occurred for the Flashes when senior John Birkbeck came on to pitch late in the game.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Liberty mounted a comeback when they were able to tie the game at 3 apiece off an RBI double.

This forced the game into extra innings. In the bottom of the 12th inning, Liberty won on a walk-off RBI single.

The offense for Kent State faded out after they jumped to an early 3-0 lead, as they never registered another run in the contest.

Zalewski was still a force at the plate, leading the Flashes in hitting by going 3-4 with an RBI. Sophomore Luke Burch was able to add two hits of his own for Kent State.

Senior Josh Pierce was credited with the loss as he pitched 3.1 innings, allowing only one run and striking out four.

Game 3: Sunday, March 8, Liberty 8, Kent State 3

Kent State went into the series finale Sunday hoping for a victory to take the series 2-1 over Liberty, but it didn’t happen.

Kent State was only able to manage five hits the entire afternoon as Liberty won by a score of 8-3.

Sophomore pitcher Andy Raval took the loss. Raval was only able to last four innings on the afternoon, giving up five runs on eight hits while striking out three batters.

The offense just wasn’t there this Sunday for the Flashes. With only five hits, they also left five runners on base and never looked to have a shot at taking the lead.

Liberty jumped out to a 3-0 lead after scoring three runs in the second. Kent State got two of the runs back in the fourth inning thanks to sophomore Curtis Olvey’s two-out, two-run double.

Liberty scored again in their half of the fourth and then added two more in the fifth to cap off the weekend series.

Kent State’s next stop will be their first homestand of the season when they square off against Rider University on Friday.

Contact Andrew Bugel at [email protected].