Series even with Buffalo heading into Easter Sunday finale

Richie Mulhall

In the first game of the Kent State baseball team’s weekend home series against Buffalo, the Bulls picked up right where they left off after sweeping the Flashes last season, shutting out Kent State 6-0.

It was just one of those days for the Kent State baseball team (23-13, 9-4 Mid-American Conference) Friday night at Schoonover Stadium.

The Flashes’ pitchers did not have command of the strike zone and their bats could muster no more than two hits against Buffalo.

The ironic thing about Friday’s game was that Duncan said before the game that good defense was going to be the key to victory. He felt 100 percent comfortable and confident in the team’s pitching and hitting abilities going into the series.

However, the defense Friday night was spotless, and it was the hitting and pitching that struggled and left a lot to be desired.

“Defensively, we played well; we just didn’t pitch it and hit it like we’d liked to,” Kent State head coach Jeff Duncan said.

Freshman starting pitcher Eric Lauer, who has not had a bad outing all season with a 7-2 record and 2.04 ERA, proved that he is human after all.

In his last couple of outings, Lauer went at least six innings, but Friday night he only saw 3.2 innings of action in just his second losing effort this season. He gave up three runs on five hits and walked four and struck out three.

The Bulls did not shell Lauer by any means, but his lack of command of the strike zone was what really stifled his performance and prevented him from settling in. He labored through a little more than three innings, and Duncan took him out midway through the third after Buffalo took control of an early 3-0 lead.

“Eric Lauer didn’t have his best stuff, but he’s human, and he’s gonna learn from that and continue to get better,” Duncan said.

Offensively, the Flashes could not get anything going Friday night against Buffalo starter Kevin Hughes, who kept the bats at bay all nine innings of the ball game.

Duncan described Hughes’ performance as “lights out” and said Kent State’s bats just couldn’t hurt him. Hughes was not doing anything special or anything the Flashes haven’t seen before. He just continued to throw strikes and change speeds, and Kent State’s bats did not have an answer for it. 

As Hughes mowed batters down, Buffalo’s offense tacked on three more runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, respectively, and continued to cruise through the game.

“[Hughes] pitched an unbelievable game; he pitched really well,” Duncan said. “We hit 12 balls right on the numbers at some guys and really couldn’t get anything going offensively.” 

The Flashes had a bit of an offensive resurgence in Saturday’s second game, amassing 13 hits en route to an 8-4 victory.

“I thought we bounced back really well today,” Duncan said in an interview with “It was good to see and fun to watch.”

Alex Miklos and Zarley Zalewski led the way, both going three-for-four. Miklos had a double and a triple, and Zalewski lead the team with two RBIs.

Starter Nick Jensen-Clagg went six and one-third innings in his fourth winning effort of the season. The sophomore gave up three runs on five hits and tallied six strikeouts before redshirt-junior John Fasola came on in relief. Eric Dorsch came on with two outs in the eighth to shut the door, earning his seventh save of the season. 

Sunday’s series conclusion is set to start at 1 p.m. at Schoonover Stadium.   

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].