Flashes baseball focused on mid-week games


Rachael Le Goubin

Freshman pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg pitches in the baseball game against Penn state on Wednesday Apr. 3. The flashes won 10-0. Photo by Rachael Le Goubin.

Kevin Battaglia

The Flashes baseball team is taking strides in the right direction but is still not where many of the coaches and players want to be this far into the season.

Kent State (14-15, 6-3 Mid-American Conference) will try to improve its record when the team plays back-to-back games starting at Penn State (6-21, 0-6 Big Ten Conference) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in State College, Pa.

The two teams met Wednesday, with the Flashes playing one of their most complete games of the season to earn a 10-0 victory over the Nittany Lions. Kent State pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg took a perfect game into the seventh inning before recording his second win of the season. He was aided by an offense that scored 10 runs on 12 hits and a defense that did not commit an error.

Both teams are coming off home victories since the two teams last met. The Flashes won their fifth straight series with a 10-3 victory over Ohio Sunday. The Nittany Lions also won Sunday beating Wright State 11-3. Tuesday’s game can be seen on the Big Ten Network.

“We played really well against them, so we know they’re going to come out ready to play,” left fielder Alex Miklos said. “We’re going to be on their home field and on the Big Ten Network so I know they’re going to be excited to play.”

Flashes third baseman George Roberts said he is excited about the chance to play on TV and in Penn State’s stadium.

“It’s always fun when we go to Penn State because their stadium is really, really nice,” Roberts said.

Roberts was solid at the plate, hitting two for four with two RBI, one run scored and a walk against Penn State last week.

Head coach Scott Stricklin said he sees the upcoming games as an opportunity for the Flashes to take some strides.

“We have high expectations here,” Stricklin said when referring to if he expects his team to play closer to the complete game they played last week against Penn State.

The Flashes and the Nittany Lions have played each other a total of nine times, and Kent State holds a 5-4 advantage.

The Nittany Lions are a young team still trying to establish some winning success after the graduation of key players from last season’s team. Catcher J.C. Coban leads them on offense, batting .299 with nine runs scored, 14 RBI and two home runs. In the last meeting, he recorded Penn State’s only hit.

The Nittany Lions are batting .250 as a team, a statistic the Flashes’ bullpen, allowing opponents to hit .254, will try to exploit.

Kent State will head home after playing Penn State for a game against Toledo (11-18, 4-6 MAC) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Schoonover Stadium.

Kent State leads the all-time series record over Toledo with 85 wins to 61 losses and one tie. The two teams last met April 2 in a back-and-forth game with the Flashes winning 7-5 in the late innings.

“Toledo is always a good team as well,” Roberts said. “When we played down there [last week], they played us tough so it should be a good game.”

The Rockets are coming off a 6-0 win over Buffalo Sunday.

Stricklin said Toledo takes pride in pitching. The Rockets bullpen in 248 innings is holding opponents to a .277 average with 171 strikeouts to 112 walks. They have allowed 160 runs (141 earned) equaling a 5.12 ERA.

Despite the strong bullpen numbers, the Flashes should have the advantage at the plate. Kent State is hitting .273, driving in 139 RBI, drawing 115 walks and scoring 161 runs. If the Flashes can get on base, they are 46 for 54 on stolen base attempts this season, which will add pressure to the Rockets’ pitching staff.

For fans who cannot make it to Schoonover Stadium on Wednesday, the game will be broadcasted on Kent State’s TV2-KSU.

Stricklin is looking forward to the week ahead for the Flashes.

“It’s exciting to go to Penn State,” Stricklin said. “We’re excited about being on TV back-to-back nights. We’re excited about the week, we have five games ahead of us, so it should be a fun week.”

Contact Kevin Battaglia at [email protected].