Jensen-Clagg near perfect as baseball beats Penn State

Kevin Battaglia

The Kent State baseball team has started to turn the season around to show winning results similar to last year’s season.

Since starting the season 1-9, the Flashes have reeled off 11 wins in their last 16 games.

Kent State (12-14, 5-2 Mid-American Conference) used a combination of pitching, defense and offense to hand Penn State (5-19, 0-6 Big Ten Conference) a 10-0 loss Wednesday at Schoonover Stadium.

Despite scoring 10 runs, the offense was overshadowed by pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg (2-2), who took a perfect game into the seventh inning. The freshman threw out batter after batter and was seven outs away from Flashes’ history before designated hitter J.C. Coban hit a single to the left side of the infield that was just out of the reach of diving third baseman George Roberts.

“To get the win was my main priority,” Jensen-Clagg said. “I was just going out there and throwing. It was really [disappointing] how it [ended], but [the defense] was making good plays for me all day, I can’t say anything less of that.”

The defense behind Jensen-Clagg made plenty of big plays, recording its second straight errorless game of the season. In the sixth inning, right fielder T.J. Sutton kept the perfect game intact by making back-to-back diving catches.

“It’s really cool to be a part of,” Sutton said. “You can’t be mad about a winning shutout either way. It could have been a little bit better, but he pitched great.”

“[The perfect game] wasn’t meant to be,” head coach Scott Stricklin said. “I’ve never seen a perfect game in person. They’re very rare. It would have been great, but one-hit shutouts we’ll take.”

Jensen-Clagg tossed seven innings, allowing one hit, striking out three batters and walking one. Dan Kopcak and Eric Dorsch each came in for relief of Jensen-Clagg and held Penn State scoreless.

The Flashes jumped on the Nittany Lions in the first inning. Shortstop Sawyer Polen hit a triple to center field and would score on a wild pitch to Roberts, giving Kent State a 1-0 lead.

Kent State added to the lead by scoring three runs in the fourth inning.

Center fielder Evan Campbell reached on a bunt to lead off the inning. A walk to Roberts put Kent State runners on second and first base with no one out for designated hitter Jason Bagoly. Bagoly sent a liner to right-center field for a double, sending Roberts to third base and scoring Campbell. Roberts would later score on Sutton’s sacrifice fly to center field. The Flashes would add the last run of the inning when left fielder Alex Miklos singled in Bagoly to push the Kent State lead to 4-0.

Sutton singled to lead off the sixth inning, and first baseman Zarley Zalewski was hit by a pitch. Miklos attempted a bunt that was caught by catcher Alex Farkes. After the catch, Farkes threw down to second base to try for a double play but instead overthrew second baseman Luis Montesinos and allowed Sutton to score. Catcher Jeff Revesz would follow up with a sacrifice fly to right field that scored Zalewski giving the Flashes a 6-0 lead.

Kent State also scored four runs in the eighth inning. Second baseman Derek Toadvine singled in two runs while Roberts doubled in two runs, pushing the Flashes’ lead to a final 10-0 score.

Roberts had another solid game at the plate batting 2 for 4 with two RBI, one run scored and a walk. Sutton finished 2 for 3 at the plate with one RBI and one run scored. The Flashes had eight of nine starters record at least one hit.

“Today, to come out and just be aggressive on the bases and be aggressive at the plate, it was really good for us,” Sutton said. “If we can do that every game, we’re going to be really dangerous.”

Kent State finished the game scoring 10 runs on 12 hits. Penn State did not score a run and managed only one hit off three Flashes’ pitchers while committing three errors.

The Flashes handed Penn State their 11th straight loss.

“I don’t think you could play much better than how we played today,” Stricklin said. “It was a complete game for us today.”

The Flashes will get back to conference play when they host Ohio for a three-game series starting at 5 p.m. Friday at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact Kevin Battaglia at [email protected].