Baseball hits road for midweek games


Shane Flanigan

Bowling Green’s T.J. Losby is thrown out at home plate by Tommy Monnot during Kent State’s 3-1 victory on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Schoonover Stadium. Photo by Shane Flanigan.

Kevin Battaglia

Kent State will have an opportunity to not only tie their longest winning streak of the season at five games, but also increase it with two mid-week games on the road.

Kent State (23-20, 12-6 Mid-American Conference) will square off against conference foe Eastern Michigan (20-20, 9-9 MAC) in a game that will not affect the conference standings at 5 p.m. Tuesday at All-Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio.

All-Pro Freight Stadium is the venue that will host the MAC Tournament beginning May 22. The Flashes see this as an opportunity to get accustomed to the field, which should provide an advantage come tournament time.

“[Eastern Michigan] coach Jay Alexander and I put this [game] together so we can get up to Avon and get used to the surroundings,” said Scott Stricklin, Flashes head coach. “I thought it really helped us last year to get on that field and get accustomed to our surroundings. We went into the MAC Tournament with a little bit of an advantage.”

Flashes second baseman Derek Toadvine said the field turf at All-Pro Freight Stadium is similar to the turf installed at Schoonover Stadium, but is “bouncier.”

“I think it’s nice that we have a game scheduled there,” Toadvine said. “Just to have a chance to play there before the MAC tournament is really beneficial to our team.”

Despite the game not counting in the MAC standings, the Flashes will have a challenge with the Eagles.

Kent State sits in second place in the MAC East Division, trailing Buffalo (13-4 MAC) and third place overall in the conference standings behind Northern Illinois (13-5 MAC), over whom the Flashes own the tiebreaker. Eastern Michigan is in second place in the MAC West Division behind NIU and fourth place in the overall conference standings, trailing Miami (10-8 MAC).

The Eagles come into the series after an 11-9 loss Sunday at Central Michigan. The Flashes are entering the game off of a 10-7 win Sunday that resulted in a three-game sweep of Bowling Green over the weekend. Last season, Kent State defeated Eastern Michigan 8-7.

“I’m pretty sure [Eastern Michigan] is in line to make the tournament,” Flashes left fielder Alex Miklos said. “It’s good to see them before the tournament and see where they’re standing [in talent].”

Following Tuesday’s game, Kent State will head to Youngstown State (13-31, 7-8 Horizon League) for the third and final matchup of the season beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Youngstown.

The Flashes and Penguins split a doubleheader last Tuesday at Schoonover Stadium. Despite Kent State winning the nightcap 5-2, the Flashes watched as their offense struggled and their pitching disappeared en route to a 10-4 Youngstown State victory.

“I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit of a disappointment to split the doubleheader,” Miklos said. “Our bats for whatever reason in the first game just went silent and we were able to bounce back the second game. Just being aggressive at the plate and trying to put some good swings on the ball [will play a key in winning Wednesday].”

Youngstown State has dropped its previous two games since the Penguins’ last win at Kent State, but Stricklin said Penguins head coach Steve Gillispie has his team improving.

“Bottom line, we have to win the series with them,” Stricklin said. “This is the third game of the series and [we] have to win two out of three. That’s what [the coaches’] message with our kids is once we get done with Eastern [Michigan] is focusing on Youngstown [State] and winning that series. We have to go in there and be ready to play.”

Contact Kevin Battaglia at [email protected].