Baseball team welcomes Penn State Wednesday

A.J. Atkinson

The Kent State baseball team’s pitching staff will be put to the test on Wednesday against Penn State’s lineup.

Kent State pitcher Ryan Mace, 2-1 with a 2.08 earned run average in 21.2 innings, has the task of controlling the fastball-hitting Nittany Lion batters. Except for the No. 5 batter, the lowest batting average of the first six Penn State batters is .322. As a team, they have a combined .296 batting average (Kent State has a combined .278 batting average).

Mike Birkbeck, Kent State pitching coach, said his pitchers’ goal is to get ahead in the count in order to avoid fastball counts, which are when there are more balls than strikes and must rely on a fastball to get a strike.

“We’re going to try and get ahead in the count, and if we aren’t ahead in the count, we’re going to try and pitch a little bit backwards with breaking balls and changeups in fastball counts,” Birkbeck said. “Mace is going to start, and he can throw multiple ways. He can pitch backwards if we need him to.”

Penn State comes in winning three of its four games this past weekend. The Nittany Lions won two out of their three game series against Le Moyne and defeated Albany 6-4 Sunday.

The Flashes (12-10) look to carry on their strong performance from Sunday’s game against Toledo into today. The Flashes committed no errors, scored eight runs on 13 hits and the three Kent State pitchers used in Sunday’s game held Toledo to just two runs.

Penn State’s pitchers have more than just senior Ben Klafczynski to fear (.430 batting average, six home runs, 22 runs batted in and 25 runs scored). Catcher David Lyon led the offense this past series, reaching base on seven base hits in nine at bats with two doubles, one homerun, six runs batted in and one run scored.

He enters the Penn State matchup with a .317 batting average and 21 runs batted in, one behind team leader Klafczynski.

Penn State has yet to announce its starting pitcher.

Wednesday’s first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected]