Sweet sixteen: Kent State baseball sweeps Oakland, scores 16 in both games of double-header

Richie Mulhall

Blue skies, beautiful weather and not a cloud in the sky — it appears that spring has finally come at last, and it was great day for baseball, especially for the Flashes.

It was a case of “sweet sixteen” for the Flashes Tuesday afternoon at Schoonover Field as the Kent State baseball team (16-10, 4-2 MAC), which had a double header against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (4-13) Tuesday, scored 16 runs in both games.

Both of the Flashes’ games against the Grizzlies were only seven innings, but they sure made the most of those shortened games.

Kent State pounded Oakland 16-5 in the first game thanks largely in part to big first and fourth innings and a historic, NCAA record-breaking statistic not seen every day.

With strong winds bearing down on each pitch thrown inside Schoonover Stadium, Kent State fans got a chance to witness NCAA baseball history when both teams combined to hit 14 batters, which snapped the previous NCAA record of 13.

“That wind may have played a little bit of a factor (in the high number of batters hit by pitch in the first game) because it would be calm for a minute, and then all of the sudden a gust would hit and it could affect the pitchers that way,” Kent State head coach Jeff Duncan said.

It’s not exactly a record either team was striving for, but it ended up working in the Flashes’ favor in terms of scoring runs. Three of Kent State’s 16 runs came from forced runs that came from batters hit by a pitch and two more of the Flashes’ runs derived from walks.

“[Oakland’s] pitchers gave us a lot of extra bases, a lot of freebies, and we took advantage of that,” Duncan said.

The Flashes kicked off the game on the offensive side of the ball with an infield hit on a bunt by redshirt senior outfielder Jon Wilson, followed by a rare, inside-the-park homerun by junior outfielder Alex Miklos.

“Obviously the wind was howling, it was going 20 miles an hour, and any time you hit a ball in the air like Miklos did, especially early in the game when the outfielders don’t know exactly how it’s playing, and you hit a ball and put a charge into it, I don’t think that centerfielder realized how deep it was going to be, and it beat him,” Duncan said.

After Miklos’ inside-the-park homer, the Flashes went on to tally six more runs in the inning to make it a seven-run lead after one.

Kent State was threatening to take command of the game and continued pouring on the runs in the fourth inning, as the team tacked on five more runs to solidify its dominance. 

“I thought we played really good, especially offensively,” Duncan said. “Our at-bats were outstanding.”

Senior first baseman Cody Koch, who hit his second homerun of the season Tuesday afternoon, emphasized the importance of jumping out to an early lead, as he helped his team do.

“Jumping out to a big lead just gives everyone a chance to relax, pitchers included because they know that they can make some mistakes and still be fine for the rest of the game,” Koch said.

The Flashes scored three more times in the fifth before it was all said and done. Oakland tried to battle back a little bit in the sixth by scoring a couple runs of their own, but the overwhelming deficit built up by a combination of solid Kent State hitting and poor Oakland pitching — not to mention a high degree of inaccuracy, as the team beaned three Flashes — proved to be too much for the Grizzlies to overcome, and they fell 16-5.

In game two, the Flashes picked up right where they left off and began to clobber the Grizzlies right off the bat.

“I thought we played good baseball, especially in that second game, I thought we a little sense of urgency in that second game,” Duncan said.

In the first inning, Wilson kicked off the game by being hit by a pitch. Sophomore infielder Justin Wagler followed suit by gapping a ball deep to leftcenter field. He tripled on the play and Wilson cruised easily into homeplate for the score.

Sophomore infielder Zarley Zalewski then singled through the right side to score Wagler, making it a 2-0 ball game, and the Flashes weren’t done there.

They loaded the bases for junior catcher Jeff Revesz, who blasted a grand slam that got out of Schoonover Stadium and over the wall in a hurry.

Revesz’s four-run shot was also his first homerun of his college career, too, making the homer all the more memorable for him.

“It felt great,” Revesz said about his homerun. “I was trying to put a barrel on it with the bases loaded, trying to get a run in,” Revesz said.

Before Kent State fans even knew what hit them, the Flashes were up 6-0 after one. And the only thing better for the home team than one grand slam is two.

Kent State handed Oakland another big blow in the bottom of the third inning as Miklos crushed a grand slam to right center field, scoring Sutton, freshman infielder Zach Beckner and Wilson.

After Sutton reached on a single, Polen scored on a Beckner bloop single and Wilson walked, Miklos smashed Kent State’s second grand slam of the ball game to right center field, boosting Kent State’s lead to a whopping 12-1 advantage.

 “I think the last two and a half weeks we’ve been really swinging the bat well,” Duncan said about his team’s hot bats as of late.

Kent State added four more runs before the end of the game to score 16 points again and route the Grizzlies by a final score of 16-1.

On the mound for Kent State, starting pitcher Michael Clark helped out the team’s blistering bats by pitching four solid innings, giving up only one run with five strikeouts, two walks and no hits.

The only run Clark gave up, which was also the only run the Flashes gave up in the second game, was unearned and came on an error by Beckner at second base.

“He’s been sharp for us and he’s been good all year and very efficient,” Duncan said of Clark.

A three-game road series with Ohio is up next for the Flashes this weekend.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].