Humphreys powers KSU to MAC win

Josh Johnston

Baseball avoids sweep with a 16-8 victory

Junior Jared Humphreys made all the difference yesterday afternoon in Kent State’s 16-8 win over Buffalo.

The Flashes’ center fielder knocked in eight runs to help Kent State (35-11, 14-6 Mid-American Conference) avoid a sweep by the Bulls. In the series’ first two games on Friday and Saturday, Buffalo beat the Flashes 15-14 and 10-6.

“I told the team in the third inning … someone needs to step up and put this team on their shoulders,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “Jared did that. He was unbelievable.”

Humphreys batted 4-for-6 with two home runs, the second of which drove in the go-ahead run for Kent State in the sixth inning. Freshman second baseman Jimmy Rider led off the inning with a single before Humphreys connected on a curveball.

“I was seeing the ball well,” said Humphreys, who has seven home runs on the year. (Buffalo pitcher Chris Ciesla) hung a curveball in there. I put a good swing on it, and it happened to go out.”

With a 10-8 Kent State advantage after the top of the sixth inning, junior pitcher Jon Pokorny worked a scoreless final four frames to seal the win. Pokorny scattered four hits and walked one batter while blanking the Bulls in his 4 1/3 innings of work.

“He pitched as well as he’s pitched all year long,” Stricklin said.

With Pokorny holding down Buffalo’s batters, the Flashes increased their lead in every inning. Humphreys drove in three runs over the seventh and eighth innings, and senior rightfielder Jason Patton capped off the scoring with a solo home run in the final frame.

Over the three-game series, the Flashes hit 10 home runs, including three by senior first baseman Greg Rohan. Humphreys said the wind blew out of Amherst Audubon Field all weekend.

“We just tried to see the pitches off of the mound and put a good swing on them,” Humphreys said. “We hit all right, but we didn’t play as well as we’d like to play.”

In Saturday’s game, Kent State jumped out to an early 3-0 lead before surrendering four unanswered runs and going on to lose.

The Flashes suffered a similar situation in the series’ opener Friday. Up 5-0 in the fourth inning, Kent State allowed the Bulls to score 11 runs over the next two frames.

A seven-run seventh brought the Flashes back up 14-11, but freshman pitcher Andrew Chafin faced his first setback of the season by allowing four runs, two earned, in the eighth inning.

It was a disappointing weekend, no question about it,” Stricklin said. “In the first two games, we got outplayed in every facet of the game. We got outpitched, we got outhit, we got outfielded. We got outworked.

“I think our guys felt like they were going to roll in here and Buffalo was going to give us three wins. That certainly wasn’t the case.”

Kent State will finish its 11-game road trip at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Canal Park against Akron.

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].