Seniors ready to say goodbye to Schoonover Stadium in final home series


Shane Flanigan

Junior Tyler Skulina delivers the pitch during a 3-1 home win over Bowling Green on Saturday, April 27, 2013. 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

When the final out of the Kent State-Central Michigan game is made on Sunday, it will mark the final time that four Flashes will walk off Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.

Kent State seniors Jason Bagoly, Evan Campbell, George Roberts and Casey Wilson hold memories that many can only dream of. In three seasons, the quartet has compiled a 131-62 win-loss record (70-20 Mid-American Conference), two MAC regular season titles, three MAC Tournament championships and Kent State’s first College World Series appearance in 2012.

“They’re the most successful class in the history of Kent State baseball,” Flashes head coach Scott Stricklin said. “This is the most successful group we’ve ever had, and this is their home finale, so I hope people come out to support them.”

Senior George Roberts knows emotions will play a part in the final home series.

“It’s going to be a tough weekend [being] the last one at home,” Roberts said. “[The seniors] are going to take it like it’s a dream. It’s the last time we’ll ever get to play there, so we’re going to go give it our best and hopefully go out with a bang. It’s definitely going to be an emotional day, but it’s not going to be too much different than any other game.”

The Flashes (25-20, 12-6 MAC) are in the race to claim their third straight MAC regular season title and will try to continue their six-game winning streak versus Central Michigan (19-23, 8-10 MAC) beginning at 3 p.m. Friday at Schoonover Stadium.

The winning streak, which began April 23, has given the Flashes momentum heading forward.

Kent State sits in second place in the MAC East Division standings, trailing Buffalo by 1.5 games. The Flashes should have an advantage over the Bulls as their remaining MAC schedule is against three teams all below .500 in the conference.

“It definitely plays a big role,” Campbell said. “It was about this time last year when we started rolling and got the big [21-game] winning streak started. We definitely need to get it going during these last three conference matchups to clinch and hopefully win a [Mid-American Conference] title again.”

The weekend series with Central Michigan is crucial for Kent State with the MAC tournament set to begin May 22.

The Chippewas come into the series in fourth place in the MAC West Standings, trailing leader Northern Illinois by five games. They are coming off a 7-3 loss versus Notre Dame Tuesday, but won two-of-three versus Eastern Michigan Sunday.

Stricklin said the matchup with Central Michigan should be a good one. The Chippewas rely on strong pitching from both their starters and bullpen, but what has plagued them this season has been their defense.

“We have to put pressure on them defensively,” Stricklin said. “We have to make them make plays. We have to put the ball in play and put pressure on them. If we can do that, we should have a successful weekend.”

Campbell agreed with his coach and said the success of the team will come from just being competitive.

“We just have to be ready to battle for all 27 innings this weekend, just have to be ready to be [a] scrappy [team] and tough outs [at the plate],” Campbell said.

As the wins continue to pile up for Kent State, so does the weekly Mid-American Conference Awards.

Flashes All-Americans George Roberts and Tyler Skulina were named Mid-American Conference East Division Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week respectively on Monday. Roberts hit .750 with seven RBI and two walks during the weekend series against Bowling Green. Skulina tossed 7 2/3 innings and allowed five hits and one run with two walks and nine strikeouts during a 3-1 win over the Falcons Saturday.

It was the second time this season that each player was honored, as they became the eighth and ninth Kent State players to earn a MAC award this season, joining teammates Taylor Williams (3), T.J. Sutton, Sawyer Polen.

Contact Kevin Battaglia at [email protected].