Kent State baseball team takes three out of four over break


Kent State sophomore infielder Justin Wagler tags out a Toledo opponent at Saturday’s game, March 22, 2014, ending in a 6-2 victory for the Flashes.

Richie Mulhall

While most Kent State students were relaxing over spring break, the Kent State baseball team was on the road, hard at work.

Over the break, the 14-10 Flashes traveled to Dayton to face Wright State (14-11) in a one-game matchup and then headed to Ypsilanti, Michigan for a three-game series against longtime MAC rival Eastern Michigan (10-13, 1-5 MAC).

Kent State 9 vs Wright State 7

In the Flashes’ first game over break Tuesday, Kent State trailed Wright State 7-5 and rallied back to tie the game in the eighth inning, then came back yet again in extra innings to secure a definitive 9-7 road victory over the Raiders.

In the 12th, sophomore infielder Justin Wagler opened up the inning with a single, and sophomore designated hitter Zarley Zalewski was hit by a pitch. With two on, redshirt senior and veteran first baseman Cody Koch singled through the left side to give Kent State an 8-7 advantage.

The Flashes added one more run in the same inning when Zalewski came home on a TJ Sutton sac fly. It was a close play at the plate for Zalewski, but he was able to avoid Wright’s State’s catcher’s touch to light up the scoreboard one last time before taking home the win.

 “It was a resilient win for us because we had to come from behind to win,” Kent State head coach Jeff Duncan said. “We had to battle back from a 5-2 deficit, and we did a really good job doing that. We swung it well, we were consistent all the way throughout the game, we had very good at-bats all the way through, and that’s what we did pretty much all of spring break.”

Kent State 10 vs Eastern Michigan 2

In the Flashes’ series opener against Eastern Michigan last Friday, Kent State racked up 10 runs on 16 hits and routed the Eagles 10-2.

Junior outfielder Alex Miklos led the way in hitting for the Flashes with 3 hits and one RBI, but he was just one of many Flashes to contribute on offense.

Wilson, Koch, junior catcher Jeff Revesz and redshirt freshman Curtis Olvey all pitched in with two hits each.

On the mound, redshirt freshman starting pitcher Eric Lauer (6-1, 1.96 ERA) — fresh off his previous victory against Toledo in which he recorded seven strikeouts and gave up no runs in 5.1 innings of work — pitched another great game, going six innings while allowing only one hit and one run.

Now with the best record and ERA on the team, Lauer has quickly emerged as the Flashes’ ace, or top pitcher, on the roster so far this season.

“He solidified himself [as an ace],” Duncan said. “I think he’s a competitor and he’s got a lot of poise for a freshman.”

Kent State 6 vs Eastern Michigan 1

In the second game, the Flashes clinched the series with a 6-1 win over the Eagles.

Kent State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first when Wagler scored Wilson with an RBI single to center field.

The Flashes’ stirring offense tacked on more runs in the fourth, eighth and ninth innings. Wilson, Miklos and Koch’s bats were all hot in game two, as they had three hits apiece.

Kent State’s top to middle of the batting order, consisting of Wilson, Miklos, Wagler, Zalewski and Koch, contributed to most of the team’s hits and runs in the four games over break.

“In the front of our order, if Jonny Wilson gets on and Alex Miklos gets on, our offense really clicks because our middle order is really good,” Duncan said. “I’ll put that middle of the order up with anybody right now as far as the way they’re swinging.”

Sophomore starting pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg (1-1, 4.50 ERA) had a strong showing on the mound, pitching through seven strong innings allowing five hits, one run and one walk. He also fanned six in his fifth starting appearance on the hill this season.

Duncan said Clagg only utilizes three types of pitches (fastball, slider, changeup), but it is the deadly combination of his fastball and changeup that make him so effective and successful.

“Clagg pitched the best outing he’s had all year,” Duncan said. “He was really good this weekend, and we’re looking for him to continue that.”

Kent State 1 vs Eastern Michigan 2

In the series finale Sunday, Kent State was unable to get the job done and complete the three-game sweep of Eastern Michigan and fell to the Eagles 1-2.

Duncan said his team came out in the first inning hitting “like gangbusters,” but then went into a “scoring lull” it just couldn’t get out of.

He said the Flashes hit the ball hard but couldn’t get those hard hits to translate into runs in the score column.

“You kinda gotta tip your hat to their starter,” Duncan said. “It’s not like we were just swinging and missing; We only struck out one time off of him.”

“We barreled some baseballs right at guys and I think [we] got a little bit frustrated and we just couldn’t come up with a big hit,” Duncan said.

Kent State will return home to Schoonover Stadium this Tuesday to host a doubleheader against Oakland to make up for the Flashes’ canceled game Tuesday, March 25. Both games Tuesday will only be seven innings long.

The first pitch will be thrown at 2 p.m.

Contact Richie Mulhall at [email protected].