Pitchers lose control in 12-5 loss to Zips

Josh Johnston

Flashes’ pitching staff gives up 11 walks in ‘Diamond Classic’

The Kent State baseball team’s pitching staff struggled with control all last night in the Flashes’ 12-5 loss to Akron.

Five pitchers combined for 11 walks and four home runs in Kent State’s third loss in four games. With the defeat, the Flashes (35-12) finished their 11-game road trip at 7-4.

“I hope we’re road-weary,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “We’ve played 11 straight games on the road, and that’s tough to do.”

Last night’s game was the Flashes’ pitching staff’s fourth straight rough outing. Against Buffalo over the weekend, Kent State’s hurlers allowed 28 earned runs in three games. Stricklin said his pitchers lack leadership.

“(Junior) Jon Pokorny showed some leadership on Sunday. He’s been the only guy who has stepped up,” Stricklin said. “We need somebody (to step up).”

The Flashes walked at least one batter in every inning except for the first as Akron managed to put a baserunner on in every frame last night.

“They didn’t have command, they didn’t work ahead in the count and they didn’t do anything that pitchers need to do to be successful,” Stricklin said. “It was really disheartening to watch.”

Offensively, Kent State showed impatience in its at bats. The Flashes’ hitters drew four walks on the night.

Junior center fielder Jared Humphreys led the team for the second straight game, hitting a home run and stealing two bases. Sunday at Buffalo, Humphreys drove in eight runs on four hits.

“I’m seeing the ball well and trying to put a good swing on it,” Humphreys said.

Freshman second baseman Jimmy Rider led off the game with a home run to left field. Humphreys followed with a single and then stole second and third base. Senior right fielder Jason Patton drove him in on a fielder’s choice, giving Kent State an early 2-0 advantage.

From then on, the Zips controlled the game, scoring four runs over the first three innings. Senior pitcher Steve Ross surrendered all four runs, including two solo homers, in his 2 1/3 innings of work.

Humphreys leveled the game for the Flashes with a two-run shot in the fifth inning, his third home run in two games. Akron responded at the bottom of the inning with a grand slam by right fielder Brett Savage.

The Zips tacked on three more runs in the seventh inning with their fourth home run of the night, a two-run shot to left field, and an RBI single.

Last night’s game marked the third annual Diamond Classic for Kids. The game, held at Canal Park in Akron, raises money for the Akron Children’s Hospital.

The Flashes face the Zips again in Mid-American Conference play this weekend. Game one of the three-game series begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].