Flashes pull off late victory


Infielder Derek Toadvine is ready at the diamond at Scott Park in Toledo on April 2, 2013. Kent State won the game against the Toledo Rockets, 7-5. Photo by Bob Taylor.

Kevin Battaglia

The Kent State baseball team is beginning to find a way to win close games in late innings.

Kent State (11-14, 4-2 Mid-American Conference) overcame a one-run deficit by scoring four runs in the eighth inning and one in the ninth inning Tuesday in Toledo, Ohio, to defeat the Rockets (10-15, 3-4 MAC) 7-5.

After coming off a disappointing 4-3 loss to Ball State Saturday, the Flashes wasted no time getting on the scoreboard against the Rockets.

Right fielder T.J. Sutton singled and catcher Tommy Monnot doubled to set up teammate Justin Wagler with one out in the second inning. Sutton would score on a wild pitch before Wagler doubled down the right field line to score Monnot, giving the Flashes an early 2-0 lead.

The Rockets would answer back in the third inning when Ben Hammer and James Miglin each singled in a run to tie the game 2-2. The game remained tied until Miglin flied out to right field to score Nate Langhals in the seventh inning giving the Rockets a 3-2 advantage.

With pinch-runner Jacob Neuschaefer on second base after a Monnot single and pinch-hitter Zarley Zalewski on first base as a result of a walk, Sawyer Polen came to the plate with two outs. Polen doubled to right-center field scoring both runners to give the Flashes a 4-3 lead. After an Evan Campbell walk, George Roberts pushed the lead to 6-3 on a double to left-center, scoring Polen and Campbell.

Kent State added an insurance run when Sutton scored in the ninth inning off a Derek Toadvine RBI fielder’s choice.

Toledo managed to add two runs in the bottom half of the ninth inning to narrow the Flashes’ lead before pitcher Brian Clark got Zack Michael to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

Roberts had a solid day, going 2-3 from the plate with two RBI, two walks and a stolen base. Polen complemented Roberts by adding one hit, one run, two RBI and two walks.

Josh Pierce (1-1) earned his first win of the season in two innings of work allowing one hit, with one strikeout and a walk. Pierce was one of five relief pitchers Kent State used in the game after starter John Birkbeck was taken out after the second inning. The Rockets’ Adam Tyson (1-2) received the loss. Tyson tossed two innings allowing five runs on four hits while walking four batters.

“I thought Josh Pierce battled at the end, and Brian Clark found a way to get us out of the ninth. It wasn’t the prettiest thing offensively or on the mound today,” head coach Scott Stricklin said.

The Flashes strung together seven runs on nine hits. The Rockets finished the game scoring five runs on 11 hits with both teams playing an errorless game in the field.

“We’re going to see [Toledo] next week at our place, and they’re going to be ready to play,” Stricklin said. “They are going to be right in the race, just like they are every year, for the Mid-American Conference title, and at some point we’re going to run into them again, probably down the road in the [MAC tournament].”

Kent State will return home to face Penn State (5-18, 0-6 Big Ten Conference) at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact Kevin Battagliaat [email protected].