Flashes’ baseball winning streak reaches five with win over Eagles

Junior+Tyler+Skulina+delivers+the+pitch+during+a+3-1+home+win+over+Bowling+Green+on+Saturday%2C+April+27.+Skulina+allowed+five+hits+and+one+earned+run+while+striking+out+nine+in+the+game%2C+notching+his+third+victory+of+the+season.+Photo+by+Shane+Flanigan.

Junior Tyler Skulina delivers the pitch during a 3-1 home win over Bowling Green on Saturday, April 27. Skulina allowed five hits and one earned run while striking out nine in the game, notching his third victory of the season. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Kevin Battaglia

The Kent State University baseball team is beginning to win games at just the right time as they near the end of their regular season.

The Flashes (24-20, 12-6 Mid-American Conference) recorded their fifth straight win after defeating Eastern Michigan (20-21, 9-9 MAC) 7-5 Tuesday at All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.

Kent State jumped on the Eagles early in the game, scoring three runs in the second inning. Third baseman Zarley Zalewski hit a single through the right side of the field with the bases loaded to score Tommy Monnot, Alex Miklos and TJ Sutton.

Eastern Michigan answered with three runs of its own with two outs and nobody on base in the third inning. Eastern Michigan infielder Nick Rotola reached base safely after a throwing error and scored when teammate Daniel Russell tripled to right-center field. A single by John Rubino would score Russell before Sam Ott doubled down the right field line to score Rubino and tie the game at 3-3.

The game, then, remained tied at 4-4 heading into the seventh inning after Kent State scored a run in the fourth inning and Eastern Michigan added a run in the fifth inning.

The Flashes pulled away from the Eagles with a three-run seventh inning. Justin Wagler tripled to right-center field to score Sutton, who had doubled to score Miklos on the previous play. Derek Toadvine singled a few batters later and scored Wagler to give the Flashes a 7-4 lead.

The Eagles also scored in the seventh inning when Mitchell McGeein crossed home plate on a Rubino groundout to second base that cut the Flashes’ lead to 7-5.

Kent State pitcher John Birkbeck (3-0) earned his third win to remain undefeated, while Eric Dorsch recorded his second save of the season. Eagles’ pitcher Taylor Dimmerling (2-1) received his first loss.

“Our pitching was outstanding,” Flashes head coach Scott Stricklin said. “Nick Jensen-Clagg, John Birkbeck and Eric Dorsch were as good as they’ve been since they’ve been here at Kent State. That was really encouraging. If we can continue to pitch [well] then we have a chance to be very good.”

Kent State received production from all over their lineup, but Stricklin is likely pleased with the emergence of freshmen Jensen-Clagg, Wagler and Zalewski this season. Wagler and Zalewski had a day to remember, combining to hit 3 for 4 at the plate with three RBI and two runs scored. Jensen-Clagg tossed 4 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run while walking one batter and striking out two.

“Guys got on base and worked [pitch] counts; overall, it was encouraging,” Stricklin said of his underclassmen players. “The one thing that was frustrating was that we made two bad defensive plays that led to four of their runs. We have to eliminate that. We have to make sure we stay focused and make every routine play; if we can do that, we can be a great team.”

The Flashes will try for a season-high sixth straight win when they travel to Youngstown State for a game at 3 p.m. Wednesday. The contest will be the third and final meeting of the season between the Flashes and the Penguins.

Contact Kevin Battaglia at [email protected].