Baseball wins first home series of season against Rider University

Andrew Bugel

The Kent State baseball team won games on Friday and Sunday to take the series win against Rider University over the weekend. Backed by impressive pitching from the starters, Kent State allowed only one earned run over the 20 innings of work from their starters. The offense also seemed to step up big in the two victories, scoring a combined 21 runs.

Game 1 on Friday: Kent State 13, Rider 5

Junior pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg (4-1) threw a masterpiece against the Broncs in the first of a three-game series Friday afternoon during the Kent State home opener.

Jensen-Clagg pitched seven innings and didn’t allow a single earned run across the plate as Kent State cruised to victory.

The offense struck first with an early attack by scoring six runs in the first four innings of play.

Freshman Luca Fuscardo got the team started with an RBI double in the first inning. Senior Sawyer Polen added a sacrifice fly RBI to put the Flashes up 2-0.

Sophomore Conner Simonetti and freshman Dylan Rosa both hit home runs in the victory, and sophomore Luke Birch also added two RBI.

The Flashes accumulated 13 runs on their 16 hits, while the defense only committed one error throughout the course of the game.

“It was a great way to start the series by having good at-bats at the plate and making solid contact,” head coach Jeff Duncan said. “Jensen-Clagg pitched phenomenally.”

Game 2 on Saturday: Rider 3, Kent State 1

The offense performed the complete opposite of how they played in the opener Friday during Saturday’s loss. Managing only one run over the course of 12 innings spelled defeat for the Flashes.

Similar to Jensen-Clagg’s dominance the day before, sophomore Eric Lauer pitched an excellent game in seven innings and didn’t allow a single run. But Kent State just didn’t have the offense to back Lauer’s strong start up.

“Lauer had a great start, and it is just unfortunate that we weren’t able to back him up with any runs,” Duncan said.

The Flashes’ only run came in the third inning, when Rosa homered for the second consecutive game. The score looked to be enough, even as freshman Zach Willeman came on to close in the ninth inning, but Rider was able to score a run when Willeman hit a batter with the bases loaded.

Senior relief pitcher Josh Pierce allowed a two-run homer in the 12th inning, which sealed the deal for Rider.

Game 3: Sunday March 15 1:00 p.m., Kent State 8, Rider 5

Kent State got the job done in the final game of the three-game series Sunday when they beat Rider 8-5 to take the series victory.

Sophomore Andy Ravel recorded the victory for Kent State by only allowing one run over six innings pitched. Ravel also struck out eight batters in the win.

“(Ravel) had excellent command and good stuff on the mound today,” Duncan said. “He has really come along and done a good job for us.”

Fuscardo capped off a good series by going 3-5 with a double and a run scored.

Kent State again jumped out to an early lead and managed their eight runs on a total of 14 hits.

Simonetti got things going in the second inning with an RBI double that scored senior catcher Tommy Monnot. The Flashes also scored in the fourth inning on senior Jeff Revesz’s home run to left field.

Rider did mount a comeback by scoring five runs in the last four innings, but it wasn’t enough to cause any serious damage to the Flashes’ well-cushioned lead.

Senior Dan Kopcak recorded the final two outs to finish Rider off.

“Our seniors stepped up big this series, and it was good to see our freshmen play well, too,” Duncan said. “Despite Saturday, the offense played excellent, and our pitching was outstanding all weekend.”

Kent State will travel to the University of Toledo for their next series, which begins this Friday and runs until Sunday. The matchup will be the first in conference play.

Contact Andrew Bugel at [email protected]