Kent State falls in extra innings

Jody Michael

Kent State falls in extra innings

The Kent State baseball team returned home yesterday but was unable to survive extra innings with Cleveland State losing the game 7-5.

The Kent State baseball team returned home yesterday but was unable to survive extra innings with Cleveland State losing the game 7-5.

Junior right fielder Ben Klafczynski’s error in the 11th-inning led to the two go-ahead Viking runs.

Alex Johnson hit a line drive to short right field that skipped past Klafczynski and back to the wall, allowing Alex Gnezda to score the go-ahead run all the way from first base. Johnson later scored on a Dylan Schwegler single.

“The ball just got past Ben Klafczynski in right field. That can’t happen,” head coach Scott Stricklin said. “He’s got to knock the ball down, and he knows it. But

somehow it got by him, and that ended up being the winning run.”

The Flashes (8-12) put runners on first and second base to begin the bottom of the inning, but then recorded three consecutive outs, ending with Klafczynski striking out swinging to end the game.

Sophomore Cory Martin was the losing pitcher for Kent State after allowing the two 11th-inning runs. He pitched 3 2/3 innings and allowed no other runs.

Stricklin said he felt his pitchers gave a quality performance and should have earned a victory for it.

“It’s frustrating when your pitchers are going out there on a Tuesday and giving the kind of outing that those guys did,” Stricklin said. “The pitching staff deserved to win that game. It’s frustrating that we couldn’t execute when we needed to to win that game.”

The Flashes’ offense began the game hot as senior Jared Humphreys led off the game with a home run on the second pitch. Sophomore Jimmy Rider also scored in the inning on a ground out.

Junior Brennen Glass pitched five innings as the Flashes’ starting pitcher before he was relieved before recording an out in the sixth. He struck out ten of the 20 batters he faced and allowed three runs on four hits.

Glass kept the Vikings in check until the fourth inning when Tyler Winn hit a two-run home run that soared above the foul pole in right field.

“I felt good. I just roughed the ball up in the inning with the home run,” he said.

The Vikings scored another run in the fifth on a suicide squeeze play. Tom Carter stole home as Gnezda produced a sacrifice bunt to second base.

“The little squeeze that they had hurts a little bit, but I felt like I did all right,” Glass said.

After freshman Christian Lockett allowed two more Cleveland State runs in the eighth inning on four hits, the Flashes finally brought runs across home plate in the bottom half of the frame.

Rider doubled to score Humphreys and then scored himself on a Klafczynski double. Sophomore David Lyon’s sacrifice fly brought Klafczynski home to tie the game.

Both teams left runners on base in the ninth and tenth innings before the Vikings scored a pair in the 11th.

Stricklin said he was unhappy with the team’s two errors and the ten runners the offense left on base.

“We had crucial letdowns in crucial moments,” he said. “Great teams don’t do those things. We’re far from a great team right now, and I think we have a chance to be a good team. We didn’t play like a good team today.”

Humphreys, Rider and Gallas all led the Flashes with two hits each.

While Cleveland State improved to 3-12 this season, the Kent State fell to 8-12, a mark Stricklin said doesn’t please him.

“The guys have got to step up and do their jobs,” he said. “When we asked guys to get bunts down, we went 0-for-2 getting sacrifice bunts down in crucial situations. The guys have just got to get their jobs done.”

Stricklin said the team should have better performances than this, and that players need to improve in order for the team to achieve more victories.

“When we ask them to do a job, they’ve got to be able to do it,” he said. “That’s what good teams do. Good teams step up when they need to step up, and we didn’t step up today and execute when we needed to.”

Glass said the loss was especially rough after the team won the Coca-Cola Classic over the weekend with a three-game winning streak.

“We’re a great team. It’s just that we can’t put some stuff together, or we’d be pretty good,” he said. Last weekend, we put things together and we won. We just need to get on the same page and we’ll be good.”

The Flashes end their brief homestand today when they welcome the 8-7 Youngstown State Penguins to a 3 p.m. game at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact sports reporter Jody Michael at [email protected].