Baseball team wins 11th straight against YSU

A.J. Atkinson

Even playing what Kent State coach Scott Stricklin calls “uninspired baseball” was enough for the Flashes to win their 11-straight game.

Shutting down a late inning threat, the Flashes defeated Youngstown 5-2 Wednesday evening in Youngstown to improve to 22-10.

Trailing 5-2 in the eighth, the Penguins had runners on first and second with the tying run at the plate after an error by freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine and walk given up by junior relief pitcher Kyle McMillen. McMillen stranded both runners by forcing Youngtown’s Armani Johnson to fly out to right field to end the inning.

The error was one of Kent State’s three errors.

“We played poorly on defense,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “We should have had four errors. We’re fortunate enough to get the win.”

Stricklin was not much happier with the offense either.

“We had poor at bats and gave a lot of at bats away,” Stricklin said. “Our pitching bailed us out. Mace gave us a great start, but we didn’t play particularly well, but sometimes you have to win ugly.”

The Flashes scored their runs early with three runs in the first inning and two in third.

Junior Joe Koch led off the game reaching first on an error by Youngstown’s shortstop David Leon. Koch got to second on another error, this one on the pitcher after a wild pickoff throw by Blake Aquadro.

The leftfielder then reached third on his third steal of the season. Junior third baseman Travis Shaw followed with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Leon.

Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski and junior catcher David Lyon both reached base on singles.

Sophomore Jason Bagoly then hit both in with a two-RBI triple down the right field line.

Senior starting pitcher Ryan Mace earned his third win, pitching five shutout innings, striking out seven, walking two and allowing two hits.

Sophomore relief pitcher Christian Lockett gave up the first run in the sixth inning. The right-hander gave up two hits and struck out one in his one inning. Brennan Glass relieved Lockett for the seventh. Glass struck out two, allowed two hits, and allowed one unearned run.

Wilson then pitched two-thirds of an inning before being lifted for McMillen, who picked up his ninth save.

Klafczynski led the Flashes at the plate. The left-handed batter went three-for-four with two runs scored. Sophomores Bagoly and Evan Campbell had another solid game at the plate. Bagoly hit one-for-four at the plate with two runs batted in, while Campbell went two-for-four with two runs batted in.

Youngstown was Kent State’s seventh series won. The Flashes have lost two series, the last March 22 against Louisville.

Stricklin said he is hoping the momentum of an 11-game win streak will carry into this weekend and not the style of play they displayed against Youngstown.

“I’m happy to get through the week with two wins, but if we play like this this weekend, we won’t win many games,” Stricklin said. “They’re playing with confidence. You feel like you’re invincible. That’s how we’re playing and hopefully we can continue that into this weekend.”

The Flashes return to conference play this weekend at Central Michigan. Friday’s first pitch is scheduled for 3:05 with Saturday’s at 2:05 and Sunday’s at 1:05.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected]