Last season, the Kent State baseball team won four games in the Mid-American Conference Tournament to win the MAC championship.
The Flashes are looking to defend the title come tournament time (May 26), but the team still has four pivotal series to play.
Kent State currently sits atop the MAC East Division as the Flashes’ hitting and pitching have hit stride during the team’s latest five-game winning streak. For Kent State to finish the season with the top seed in the tournament, they must take care of four division rivals.
Ohio (12-27, 6-9 MAC):
The Bobcats have lost four of their last five games, and most recently lost to Duquesne 12-7. Ohio has struggled all season at the plate and on the mound, as the Bobcats sit at the bottom half of the conference in hitting and pitching. Two bright spots for Ohio are junior outfielders Robert Maddox III and Gauntlett Eldemire. Maddox is fourth in the conference with a .383 batting average with 11 home runs and 49 RBIs, while Eldemire’s .376 average is fifth in the MAC.
Miami (20-20, 7-8 MAC):
Like Ohio, Miami is struggling offensively and defensively. The RedHawks are ninth in the conference with a .293 batting average and seventh with a 6.08 ERA. MAC Freshman of the Year candidate, pitcher Mac Thoreson, is the anchor of the Miami pitching staff with a 3.77 ERA and a 3-3 record. At the plate, junior outfielder Adam Eaton is the leader of the RedHawks’ offense. Eaton is hitting .363 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs.
Bowling Green (19-18, 9-6 MAC):
The Falcons are the one team that could challenge the Flashes for the MAC East title. Bowling Green possesses the top offense in the MAC with a team batting average of .324, led by sophomore infielder Jon Berti, who leads the conference with a .412 average. The Falcons, who have only hit 30 home runs this season, rely on key hits from Berti and senior outfielder T.J. Blanton. Bowling Green’s team ERA of 6.19 ranks eighth in the conference, but Kevin Leady is the staff ace. Leady has a 3.77 ERA with a team-best 6-1 record.
Akron (16-22, 2-13 MAC):
Kent State will travel to Akron to face its arch-rival May 20. Although the Zips are in the basement of the division, this matchup will be pivotal since it is the last series of the season. Akron has a better team batting average than the Flashes at .309, but the Zips have had trouble closing out opponents. Akron’s two best relievers have ERAs of 6.65 and 7.45, which continues to cause problems for the team this season. On offense, Drew Turocy leads the team in both batting average and RBIs. His .370 average and 47 RBIs could cause matchup problems for the Flashes.
Contact sports reporter Lance Lysowski at [email protected]