Baseball finishes weekend with two wins

A.J. Atkinson

The Kent State baseball team’s pitching staff led the Flashes in their two out of three wins this weekend in the Caravelle Resort Classic.

“All three of the starting pitchers pitched spectacular,” said Scott Stricklin, Kent State coach. “You really couldn’t pitch much better.”

Junior left-handed pitcher David Starn nearly sealed the Flashes’ dominant weekend of pitching with a no-hitter Sunday. The junior had a perfect game going through five innings until he walked Notre Dame’s Herman Petzhold. Petzhold got Starn again by scoring the first hit of the afternoon for Notre Dame in the eighth inning. Petzhold stole second to get in scoring position, but Starn stranded him by retiring the following batter. The following batter was his last, as Starn had reached his total pitch count.

Flashes replaced him with junior Kyle McMillen for the ninth. The late inning reliever gave up a leadoff single to Frank DeSico to begin the final frame. The Fighting Irish tried to bunt DeSico over, but fouled out. The following batter, Eric Jagielo, crushed a two-homerun to break the scoreless tie.

Notre Dame retired the Flashes in order in the bottom of the ninth, giving Kent State its first loss of the weekend, 2-0.

“It felt good to be in control of the game from the start,” Starn said. “I was able to keep them off balance for most of the game, and my defense was there to back me up.”

As for the near no-hitter, Starn said he has not been that close since little league.

“My only thoughts while I was pitching was to try and throw strikes early and find a way to get them out,” Starn said. “I wasn’t focused on the scoreboard. I was just focused on the next pitch.”

Stricklin said it was unfortunate the team could not offensively support Starn’s pitching performance. Instead of earning a win, Starn took a no decision.

“It’s frustrating to lose, especially with how Starn pitched,” Stricklin said. “We had some chances to score today and left some guys on base. We all played well, pitched great, played good defense. If we got a hit or two in Sunday’s game, it’s a near perfect weekend.”

Sophomore pitcher Andrew Chafin (2-0) won his dual Friday against No. 24 Coastal Carolina’s Anthony Meo, going seven innings, striking out six and giving up just four hits in the Flashes 2-0 victory. The Flashes knocked Meo out of the game in the sixth inning after scoring two runs on seven hits.

Kent State scored all two runs in the first inning. Senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski scored the first by hitting a solo homerun. The homerun was the right fielder’s third on the season. The Flashes second and final run came on back-to-back doubles from juniors Travis Shaw and David Lyon.

The Flashes were led by senior Kyle Hallock on Saturday. Hallock (2-2) pitched seven innings, gave up seven hits, allowed one run, and struck out eight and earned his second win of the season in Kent State’s 7-1 win.

Junior shortstop Jimmy Rider led the team on offense this weekend, getting at least a hit in each game to extend his hit streak to 13 games. Friday’s lone hit came late in the seventh inning. The rest of the weekend, Rider reached base on hits early. Saturday, he hit safely two of his four plate appearances, scored two runs, recorded a run batted in and was walked once. Rider went two for four again Sunday against Notre Dame.

“(Rider) swung the bat well all weekend,” Stricklin said. “He’s been swinging the bat real well. He’s been solid for us all year and his entire career.”

Stricklin said he was happy with his team’s performance in the tournament.

“You go on the road, you win two out of three, you beat a ranked opponent (Coastal Carolina), you did well winning two out of three,” Stricklin said. “But losing on Sunday is never fun.”

The Flashes have a short practice week, as their first game is at 3 p.m. in Pittsburgh against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Kent State will then fly to Houston, Texas, for its three game series against the University of Houston.

Contact A.J. Atkinson at [email protected].