Flashes lose first MAC series of season to Bowling Green

Richie Mulhall

Saturday’s Box Score | Sunday’s Box Score

The Kent State baseball team just couldn’t catch a break this weekend.

The team squeaked by Bowling 7-5 on the road Friday night, but it couldn’t provide an answer for them Saturday and Sunday. The Flashes (28-15, 11-6 MAC) fell to the Falcons 8-6 Saturday and then fell victim to a 12-5 drubbing at the hands of Bowling Green Sunday.

The last time Kent State lost by seven or more runs was Saturday, March 15, against Appalachian State, a rough early season game in which the Flashes got pounded 8-0.

Much like Friday’s game, Saturday’s game saw a lot of back-and-forth action between the two MAC opponents.

It seemed like whatever the Flashes did Saturday, it was one step forward and two steps back for them. Every time the Flashes generated an offensive push, Bowling Green answered right back with an even bigger push.

Redshirt-senior first baseman Cody Koch, who led the team in homeruns with four going into Saturday’s game, put the Flashes ahead and on the board first with a solo homerun to right field in the second inning, but the Falcons fired back with two unearned runs in their home half of the inning.

Keeping his batting average just under a steady .400, sophomore designated hitter Zarley Zalewski joined Koch in the homerun column of the stat sheet and belted one out of the ball park in the fourth and senior outfielder T.J. Sutton helped the Flashes make even more headway in the fifth with a two-run triple to right centerfield that scored Koch and sophomore third baseman Justin Wagler.

The Flashes had a commanding 5-2 advantage going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Falcons would not stay quiet for long.

They took control of the game in their half of the fifth with a big five-run inning that shattered Kent State’s three-run lead and put a damper on the Flashes’ success earlier on in the game.

The Flashes tried to whittle away at the lead by scoring once in the seventh on a Koch groundout and had two men on in the ninth, but the deficit proved too much for them to overcome.

Nick Jensen-Clagg (4-2, 4.67 ERA) struggled from the mound and got absolutely shelled Saturday afternoon— plain and simple. The Falcons made short and quick work of Jensen-Clagg Saturday, as he was only in the game for 4.2 innings and allowed five earned runs, three unearned runs, 10 hits and two walks. By the end of his short stint, he had thrown 91 pitches, a pitch count way too high for a just a little over four innings of work.  

The sophomore starting pitcher won his last four starts in a row the past four Saturdays, but he could not get a good handle on Saturday’s game.

Redshirt-senior Michael Clark (2-1, 1.54 ERA) and redshirt-junior John Fasola (1-1, 4.12 ERA) came on in relief for Jensen-Clagg and subdued the Falcons’ bats for the remainder of the game. The damage had already been done, but at the very least, Clark and Fasola were able to stop the bleeding for at least a few innings.

On a more positive note, Koch once again had the biggest boom in his bat Friday, going three-for-four on the day with a double, homerun, three runs and two RBIs. His big fly in the second that left the yard like a streak of lightening across the sky marked his fifth homerun of the season and his second of just this past weekend.

Kent State sought redemption Sunday afternoon in the rubber match, but sometimes you seek and you shall not find.

The Flashes found the exact opposite of redemption Sunday as the Falcons pummeled them 12-5 in a game Kent State will hope to forget.

The team had 5-2 lead after six and a half innings and were home free until the game reached the seventh inning and Bowling unleashed a full-blown offensive onslaught.

The Falcons came on strong in the seventh and eighth and scored five runs in each inning to win the game and capture the series 2-1 on their home field.

Kent State junior starting pitcher Brian Clark (4-6, 4.38 ERA), who has a rough time on the hill at times on Sundays, pitched a decent game through six innings and gave up four earned runs on five hits and four walks. He also recorded seven strikeouts.

Clark surrendered a hit and a walk to start the seventh inning, and he was replaced by Fasola immediately following those two batters.

It was when Clark left the game after six innings and Fasola came out of the bullpen that the game took a turn for the worst for Kent State.

Fasola, who only faced one batter at the end of the previous game against the Falcons, had a shaky, short-lived outing Sunday afternoon to say the least. He hit the first batter he faced, gave up an RBI single and walked in a run. He was accredited with the loss and replaced by junior reliever John Birkbeck (3-0, 3.86 ERA), who finally got an out in the inning on a pop-up.

After Birkbeck, three more Kent State pitchers came on in relief. Birkbeck and redshirt sophomore Tim Faix (0-0, 4.02 ERA) only faced one batter and did not give up any runs, and redshirt juniors Eric Dorsch (1-1, 2.13 ERA) and Josh Pierce (0-1, 4.73 ERA) each gave up two earned runs en route to the 12-5 loss.

From strictly an offensive perspective, Koch once again led his team in hits and had three of the team’s eight total hits on the evening. He had nine hits on 13 at-bats total in this three game series this past weekend, and his imposing presence at the plate now ranks third on the team with a .344 batting average.

After two straight losses to Bowling Green on the road, the Flashes will look to bounce back Tuesday night as they travel to University Park to play a rematch against Penn State. Tuesday evening’s first pitch will be thrown at 6:00 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].