Flashes return home winless after tough opening weekend

Sophmore+pitcher+Michael+Clark+pitches+to+a+Toldeo+Rocket+player+during+the+game+on+Tuesday.+The+Flashes+lost+to+the+Rockets+in+extra+innings+4-3.+Photo+by+Coty+Giannelli+.

Sophmore pitcher Michael Clark pitches to a Toldeo Rocket player during the game on Tuesday. The Flashes lost to the Rockets in extra innings 4-3. Photo by Coty Giannelli .

Kevin Battaglia

The Kent State baseball team will return home still looking to find that elusive first win that they have avoided during the beginning of the 2013 season.

Kent State (0-4) dropped its fourth straight game 13-8 to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington Sunday afternoon at Brooks Field in Wilmington, N.C., finishing the opening weekend without a victory.

The Flashes sent pitcher Nick Jensen-Clagg (0-1) to the mound to try to end their three game skid. Unfortunately, the Seahawks welcomed the freshman making his first college start by scoring seven runs in four innings, resulting in Jensen-Clagg’s early exit from the game.

UNC-Wilmington started the game by scoring three runs in the first inning. Kent State would eventually come back to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the fourth inning, only to watch the Seahawks counter with four runs in the bottom half of the inning.

The Flashes finished the game scoring eight runs on 11 hits while recording three errors. The Seahawks scored 13 runs on 15 hits, but committed four errors. Both teams each left 10 runners on base.

Jensen-Clagg tossed three innings, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits while giving up two walks and was saddled with the loss.

His counterpart Christian MacDonald threw 2 2/3 innings for the Seahawks, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits while striking out three and walking one. MacDonald did not qualify for the win.

The win belonged to reliever Ryan Foster (1-0), while Ricky Holden (1) earned his first save of the season.

The Flashes’ offense came from two players who had multi-hit games.

Designated hitter Jason Bagoly, catcher Tommy Monnot and second baseman Sawyer Polen combined to hit .538 (7-13), score three runs and drive in three runs. Right fielder T.J. Sutton also provided two RBI.

Ninth-year head coach Scott Stricklin voiced his displeasure after Sunday’s game.

“This is as poorly as we have played for an opening weekend since I’ve been here,” Stricklin said.

The Flashes’ defense committed 14 errors in four games.

“We played very good teams and we didn’t play very good defense,” Stricklin said. “Bottom line when that happens, you’re not going to win very many games.”

Despite the pitching and defensive struggles, Stricklin said it was encouraging to watch the bats come alive and score runs. The team will just need to fix up the pitching and defense, which he said has been very important to past success.

“We feel like our pitching and defense is going to be pretty good — that’s where we’ve won our championships, off pitching and defense,” Stricklin said. “We just need to work hard and stay focused.”

Stricklin said the team is heading home with its confidence a little shaken, but he believes it is a good thing for his players in the long run. He hopes the four games during the weekend provided a wake-up call for the Flashes who came into the season with high expectations due to last season’s success.

“I think we got a good dose of reality,” Stricklin said. “You can’t just walk on the field and use your resume to win games; you have to earn wins, so we got to get back to work.”

The Flashes will now be home for the next few days before leaving for a four-game weekend series against nationally-ranked San Diego. The first game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Friday in San Diego, Calif.

Contact Kevin Battaglia at [email protected]