Miklos knocks in two as Flashes take pitchers’ dual against Miami

Richie Mulhall

Box Score

Errors giveth, and errors taketh away.

Despite a costly error in the seventh inning that nearly cost the Flashes the game, the Kent State baseball team (21-11, 8-2 Mid-American Conference) came back in its half of the eighth inning to defeat Miami (13-19, 4-6 MAC) 4-2, ironically thanks to a costly Redhawks error.

What goes around comes around, and fortunately for the Flashes, their error came first and gave them time to recuperate and claim back the lead one inning later.

The errors in Friday night’s game all began with freshman starting pitcher Eric Lauer (7-1, 1.61 ERA) pitching a gem.

Lauer, who has had nothing less than a storybook start to his season, was on the mound for the Flashes in the Friday night MAC East matchup. He went 6.2 strong innings, throwing 80 pitches and recording five punch outs.

The phenom was dealing throughout the game, and there were only two situations when there was more than one runner on base when Lauer was on the hill.

“He’s been phenomenal all year,” Kent State Coach Jeff Duncan said. “Guys just have a really tough time getting the barrel behind his fastball, and then his slide was working as well. He was dominating.”

It was just too bad for Lauer that one of those situations ended up costing him the win.

The Flashes took an early 2-0 lead in the third inning. Freshman infielder Zach Beckner reached on a single and stole second to advance into scoring position. Junior catcher Jeff Revesz ripped a perfectly cued double that shot right off the third base bag and carried down the left field line, which allowed Beckner to score.

After redshirt senior outfielder Jon Wilson struck out, junior outfielder Alex Miklos stepped up to the dish and slapped a hit in the gap between center and left field. Revesz scored easily, and Miklos rounded the bases and slid into third for an RBI triple.

“I tried to slow down my bat and was kind of looking for an outside fastball, and he gave it to me, and I put a pretty good swing on it and got it into the gap,” Miklos said. 

Miklos, who went 2-4 on the day with 2 RBIs, has been the spark plug of this team alongside Wilson, Duncan said. The top-of-the-lineup pair makes for a lethal one-two punch, and whenever Wilson and Miklos can both make it on base in the same inning, it usually means trouble for the opposing team.

“Jonny’s just been doing a great job getting on base, and luckily enough that gets the pitcher uncomfortable pitching out of the stretch for me, and sometimes I have a tendency to leave the ball up, and Jonny’s got great wheels over there at first base and is always a threat to run, so I think that works to my advantage and they end up throwing a good amount of fastballs every time Jonny gets on base.”

After three scoreless innings on both sides, Lauer worked himself into a jam with two outs and bases loaded — his first stressful situation of the night. And just when Lauer thought he was out of the woods, the urgency of the circumstances crept up on his defense.

Miami’s next batter flared a routine ground ball to sophomore third baseman Justin Wagler, but Wagler botched the tailor-made out, allowing the Redhawks to get on the board.

The next batter extended the inning even further and made it a tie ball game with an RBI infield hit up the middle.

Wagler’s error was a simple mistake seen in baseball all the time, but — especially in a sport like baseball — one little mistake can turn the tables in an instant.

“You got to be fundamentally sound defensively,” Duncan said in regard to the error his team committed Friday night. “That error happened; it kind of ate Justin Wagler up a little bit in a tough situation. It happens in baseball.”

Wagler’s error might have proven costly at the time, but he did not let his mistake get the best of him. He bounced back in a big way in the bottom of the eighth inning.

After Wilson reached again on a single to right, Miklos worked his magic again and made it to third base for the third time in the game.

He bunted toward first and what looked like an easy out turned into a nightmare for the Redhawks. 

The pitcher retrieved the bunt and threw it past the glove of the first baseman, allowing Wilson to score and Miklos to advance all the way to third base. Kent State regained the lead, but the Flashes weren’t quite done yet. 

Wagler still had a score to settle. 

Wagler finally redeemed himself and singled to center field to score Miklos and make it a 4-2 ball game.

Miklos gave Wagler a lot of credit for looking past his mistake and pulling through for his team when they needed him most. 

 “[Errors] affect the scoreboard a little bit, but our guys do a really good job turning the page and focusing on the next one,” Miklos said. “Wags made that error, and he came up and hit me in, which is a really important run. He turned the page and moved on to the next event and got me in a big spot.”

Duncan also praised Wagler’s ability to move on and play in the moment. He said Wagler’s defining moment in the game was not his error, but how he responded to his error.

“Sometimes it’s tough to play this game, especially mentally, and sometimes you’re gonna [face] adversity through this game. It’s how you react to it and he reacts well to it, and I was proud to see him get that hit.”

After Lauer was taken out in the seventh, Tim Faix and John Fasola came in the game to relieve Lauer. Faix got out of Lauer’s jam in the seventh, and Fasola came in in the eighth, threw two-thirds of the inning and did not give up a hit.

He earned his first win of the season in relief.

“They both really looked good tonight, especially Johnny Fasola,” Duncan said of Faix and Fasola. “Johnny’s fastball was electric, and he had his slider working.”

Redshirt junior Eric Dorsch came out of the pen in the ninth and slammed the door shut on the game. 

He picked up his sixth save of the season and struck out two batters in one inning of work.

After turning in yet another dominating closing performance, Duncan said Dorsch has without a doubt solidified himself as Kent State’s definite closer.

“He’s been dynamite all year, and he’s got dominating stuff, and we’re just happy to have him,” Duncan said. “When you go the back end of the bullpen and have a guy like Eric Dorsch, you’re feeling pretty good.”

The Flashes and Redhawks will meet again Saturday at 6 p.m. at Schoonover Stadium. 

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected]