Flashes’ baseball offense sputters, losing two of three

Freshman+outfielder+T.J.+Sutton+makes+contact+with+the+ball+during+Wednesdays+game+against+Pittsburgh+at+Schoonover+Stadium.+Kent+State+defeated+Pittsburgh+by+a+score+of+9-5+to+earn+their+sixth+win+in+a+row.+Photo+by+Anthony+Vence.

Freshman outfielder T.J. Sutton makes contact with the ball during Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh at Schoonover Stadium. Kent State defeated Pittsburgh by a score of 9-5 to earn their sixth win in a row. Photo by Anthony Vence.

John Dvozenja

After rain that caused the postponement of Friday’s game, the Flashes played a double header Saturday in Western Kentucky’s 50-degree weather.

Kent State ace David Starn was on the hill for Friday’s matchup, not knowing how short his day would be. Starn only threw five innings. He gave up six hits, including a solo homerun, with three walks and two surprising strikeouts.

“David wasn’t as sharp as he normally is,” coach Scott Stricklin said. “He just didn’t have his command of his off-speed pitches. It happens from time to time. It’s really easy to get spoiled with David because when he’s on, he is so good.”

Though Starn’s statistics weren’t up to par in this matchup, he only allowed two runs on five innings of work.

“He gave us every chance to win, kept us right in the game, and he really battled and competed,” Stricklin said. “He didn’t have his best game, but it certainly wasn’t on his shoulders. On his bad days, he is still pretty darn good. David pitched well enough to win.”

The fourth inning was the roughest inning for Starn. He gave up three hits, including a solo homerun to left field, making the score 2-1 Hilltoppers. Starn then gave up back-to-back singles and a walk. Starn was relieved by sophomore pitcher Dan Slavik in the 6th, after giving up a leadoff single and then a throwing error.

With a runner on first and third, Slavik retired the first batter. Senior catcher David Lyon then threw out a Western Kentucky steal attempt and Slavik retired the third batter.

“We want him to be in the late-inning, tight situation games,” Stricklin said. “He got us out of the inning with momentum for the start of the seventh inning. He did his job to get us out of the inning.”

Slavik entered the seventh with Kent State still trailing 2-1 and couldn’t seem to find what he had in the sixth inning. Slavik gave up a 3-run homerun to catcher Ryan Huck. The Flashes couldn’t seem to find enough offensive production for the rest of the game, losing 5-2.

“The most frustrating part is that we had our chances,” Stricklin said. “We had our opportunities; we just didn’t take advantage of them.”

Saturday Game 2 of 2

The Flashes found their offense in the second game, beating Western Kentucky 13-3 after losing 5-2 earlier.

Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider went 4-for-4 with three runs scored, two runs batted in, and one stolen base. Redshirt junior third basemen Nick Hamilton went 4-for-5 with five runs batted in and one run scored. Junior centerfielder Evan Campbell, who has made himself comfortable in the leadoff spot, went 3-for-5 with one run scored and one walk.

Junior Ryan Bores threw another phenomenal ballgame, throwing a four-hitter in his six innings. Bores gave up two earned runs and finishing his performance with four strikeouts.

“It was his best performance yet,” Stricklin said. “His pitch count was down; he threw the ball very well. He threw a lot of strikes and had command of the game.”

Sunday

After an explosive game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, Kent State would have liked to see even more offensive power for Sunday afternoon’s matchup—though that would not be the case.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Tyler Skulina was the most effective performer for the Flashes in the final game between Kent State and Western Kentucky. Skulina threw an impressive two-hit, six inning game. Though he walked five Hilltoppers, he made up for it by striking out a career-high nine.

Throughout the pitchers’ duel, offensive squads couldn’t find any to do until the seventh inning. Skulina was pulled in the beginning of the seventh inning, relieved by Michael Clark. Clark battled each batter, but couldn’t seem to find an out.

After a couple of timely hits and a rare error by Rider, the Hilltoppers claimed the lead, scoring two runs.

Kent State came right back at the Hilltoppers with a leadoff double from sophomore right fielder Troy Summers, who then quickly stealing third base. Senior left fielder Joe Koch grounded out to Western Kentucky’s shortstop Steve Hodgins, scoring Summers to put Kent State within one run.

In the ninth inning with freshman outfielder Alex Miklos on third with two outs, sophomore T.J. Sutton pinch-hit for freshman catcher Tommy Monnot, looking to tie the game up at two.

Sutton failed to come through by flying out to center to end the game, losing 2-1.

The Flashes lost the series against Western Kentucky 1-2, making their overall record 5-4.

Kent State will begin a four-game series Friday against the New Mexico State Aggies, who are currently 9-6.

Contact John Dvozenja at [email protected]