Kent State baseball team drops series to Baylor


Junior Sawyer Polen tags out opponent Trent Pell before throwing the ball to first and making a double play during a doubleheader game against Oakland University at Schoonover Stadium on April 1, 2014.

Andrew Bugel

The Kent State baseball team (2-4) suffered back-to-back losses in doubleheader games on Saturday to 21st-ranked Baylor (5-2), which cost them a series victory.

The team started off the series with a commanding 11-3 on Friday, but a lack of offense hurt them in both games played Saturday.


Game 1: Friday: Kent State 11, Baylor 3

Junior pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg (1-1) picked up his first win of the 2015 season with a dominant performance Friday night in the opening game of a three-game series against Baylor. Jensen-Clagg pitched five innings, struck out seven and only allowed three runs in the team’s victory.

“Nick pitched really well and we played really good defense behind him,” coach Jeff Duncan said.

The Flashes managed 11 runs off of 17 hits and only committed one error the entire game.

The team took advantage of multiple throwing errors Baylor committed and jumped out to a 5-0 lead after three innings. Only seven of Kent State’s 11 runs were earned.

Sophomore second baseman Zach Beckner provided the biggest spark of offense by going 4-5 on the afternoon with an RBI and scored two runs.

Freshman catcher Tim DalPorto also recorded three hits, junior centerfielder Jacob Neuschaefer added two RBIs and senior catcher Jeff Revesz homered in the eighth inning.

Freshman relief pitcher Zach Willeman struck out five over the last two innings of the game to secure the win for the Flashes.


Game 2: Saturday: 1:00 (Doubleheader Game 1), Baylor 6, Kent State 1

Stomachaches plagued nine of the guys on the team for the doubleheader Saturday, which left no backups available among the position players.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. (The illnesses) went through our team like nothing,” Duncan said. When he came down for breakfast, a huge portion of his team was in their hotel rooms throwing up.

Despite the sick bug striking the team, Kent State managed 12 hits in the first game of their doubleheader Saturday afternoon against Baylor. The only problem was they were only able to manage one run.

Sophomore Jared Skolnicki (1-1) went six innings and only gave up three earned runs while striking out four batters.

“He pitched while battling the stomach flu and was actually throwing up in-between innings,” Duncan said. “I’m really impressed with how he battled not only on the mound but with his health.”

The damage was done in the fourth inning when Baylor put up three runs and took a 4-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

Two Baylor doubles in the inning spelled Kent State’s losing fate, who scored their lone run in the sixth inning off a Neuschaefer single.

Senior shortstop Sawyer Polen and junior first baseman Zarley Zalewski recorded three hits each in the loss.

“Zalewski is hotter than a firecracker right now and he has always swung the bat well,” Duncan said. “Offensively, I thought we played well they entire series.”


Game 3: Saturday: 4:30 p.m. (Doubleheader Game 2), Baylor 4, Kent State 3 (F/10)

Kent State played their first extra innings game of the season but came up empty-handed in the process.

The Flashes just couldn’t fully capitalize on Baylor’s four errors to win the game.

Baylor jumped to a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning off Flashes’ sophomore Eric Lauer (1-1), who only managed 3.1 innings of work, allowing two earned runs off four hits.

However, Kent State got the bats going in the seventh inning with a two-run single by sophomore Curtis Olvey to tie the game at 2-2.

The game went into extra innings and it appeared Kent State would edge out Baylor after a run crossed the plate on a throwing error to put Kent State in the lead, 3-2.

But Kent State senior relief pitcher Josh Pierce (0-1) allowed a two-run single to give Baylor the win and the series victory.

“That was really tough. We had nobody on and two outs in the bottom of the tenth,” Duncan said. “But again, I was proud of how tough we played considering the circumstances.”

Kent State will try to bounce back when they head to Conway, South Carolina for the Coastal Carolina Tournament on Friday. 

Contact Andrew Bugel at [email protected].