Flashes’ baseball steals victory in 9th inning

Brad Tansey

The Kent State baseball team scored three runs in the ninth inning to beat the Youngstown Penguins 6-5 at Schoonover Stadium yesterday.

Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said the team’s morale going into the final inning was low.

“I thought our guys were tentative,” Stricklin said. “It’s one of those times where guys are waiting for something bad to happen.”

Freshman second baseman Evan Campbell led Kent State’s offense on the day, going 3-for-5 including a pair of doubles. Campbell hit the game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth for the Flashes.

“(Evan) has been a spark plug for the last five games,” Stricklin said. “He’s a guy that’s going to be really hard to get out of the lineup. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to.”

Freshman pitcher Casey Wilson (2-1) recorded the win for the Flashes, closing out the Penguins in the final inning.

After going scoreless in the first, Youngstown State took a 1-0 lead after a sacrifice fly by first baseman Greg Dissinger that scored freshman third baseman Zac McFarland who tripled in the previous at-bat.

In the top of the third, the Penguins (8-8) scored two more runs; increasing their lead to 3-0 after senior Jacke Healey bombed a two-run home run over the left field fence.

In the top of the fifth, Jacke Healey hit another home run, which was his ninth this season.

Kent State (9-12) scored its first run in the bottom of the fifth after sophomore shortstop Jimmy Rider led the inning off with a double. Rider advanced to third after a fly out by senior Anthony Gallas. Sophomore third baseman Travis Shaw struck out, but advanced to first after a passed ball on the strikeout. Rider scored on the wild pitch, cutting the deficit to 5-1.

The Flashes weren’t able to figure out Youngstown State’s pitching early. The Penguins used a “bullpen by committee,” changing pitchers eight times in the game.

“You don’t get a good look at a guy,” Stricklin said. “You have to have good at-bats. Every at-bat is a new at-bat, and we didn’t do a very good job at that until the ninth inning.”

Kent State wasn’t able to capitalize on hits in the early innings. The Flashes left 11 men on base in the first six innings.

“We’re letting some pitches get by that we should be hitting,” Kent State senior centerfielder Jared Humphreys said. “It’s getting into the middle of the season and we’re starting to coming around on that.”

The Flashes scored again in the bottom of the sixth after a two-out double by Humphreys, which scored junior right fielder Ben Klafczynski, making the score 5-2.

After scoring again in the seventh, the Flashes brought the score to 5-3.

In the bottom of the ninth, trailing 5-3, Kent State was down to its final outs. With one out and the bases loaded, Campbell hit a double down the right field line, scoring sophomore designated hitter David Lyon and Shaw. After an intentional walk to senior catcher Cory Hindel and a fielder’s choice by Klafczynski, Humphreys singled to right field to plate the winning run.

“As a leadoff guy and fifth-year senior, (Humphreys) needs to be a leader for us,” Stricklin said. “There is really no different guy we would rather have at the plate for us.”

Kent State travels to Toledo this weekend to take on the Rockets in a three-game series starting at 3 p.m. Friday.

Contact sports correspondent Brad Tansey at [email protected].