Stillings takes mound again after no-hitter

Josh Johnston

Junior pitcher leads Flashes in wins, strikeouts and innings

Junior catcher Cory Hindel just hoped for a popup. A quick, easy out to end the game. Instead, his battery mate, Brad Stillings, did one better.

The junior righty struck the batter out, finishing off his historic no-hitter bid last Friday at Toledo. Hindel then rushed the mound.

“Him getting a strikeout to end the game was just awesome,” Hindel said. “Brad doesn’t show his feelings like most on the team, so I made sure that I was running out there just as fast as I could to make sure he’d show a little bit of emotion.”


No. 24 Kent State (26-7, 9-2 Mid-American Conference) vs. Bowling Green (16-14, 7-4)

Where: Schoonover Stadium

When: 3 p.m. today

On the mound:

Kent State: Brad Stillings (5-0, 2.89 ERA)

Bowling Green: Brennan Smith (5-3, 2.59 ERA)

That scene happened exactly a week ago. This afternoon, Stillings (5-0, 2.89 ERA) will return to the mound for the first time since the 1-0 victory in Toledo to battle Bowling Green.

Kent State pitching coach Mike Birkbeck said Stillings has stepped up his game to become the Flashes’ ace since the beginning of the season.

“We knew he had the capabilities,” Birkbeck said. “He had all the characteristics of being a front-line guy. He’s worked very hard, and things are coming together.”

A little over halfway into the season, Stillings leads Kent State’s pitching staff in wins, strikeouts (48), innings pitched (43.2) and batting average against (.188). His no-hitter last week was Kent State’s 10th all-time and the first in more than a decade. He’s not one to brag about it though, said Hindel, who is also Stillings’ roommate.

“Brad’s not the type of person to go around and be talking about it and everything,” Hindel said. “He’s been acting the past few days just like he was before (the no-hitter). Once he threw it, I think it hit him more towards the end of the night, but … he’s just looking forward to the next outing. The no-hitter’s gone now.”

The shutout put the national spotlight on Stillings. In the past week, he’s been named the national pitcher of the week and one of five national players of the week.

“He’s taken it very well,” Birkbeck said. “We encouraged him to enjoy it for a while, but then we got back to trying to get better.”

Starting out as a reliever his freshman year, Stillings showed promise by striking out 17 batters in 21 innings and finishing with a 2.57 ERA.

Last year he pitched a team-high 79 innings in 13 starts. His breakout came in the Mid-American Conference semifinal game against Northern Illinois, where he struck out eight batters in eight innings in the Flashes’ 10-3 win.

“He obviously throws very, very hard, but to continue to improve as a pitcher, you’ve got to expand your entire game,” Birkbeck said. “He’s done that. In his case, his command has gotten better.”

This afternoon at Schoonover Stadium, Stillings will try to lead Kent State (26-7) to its fourth consecutive win. On Wednesday, the Flashes’ topped Ohio State 8-7 in Columbus.

“(Stillings) just wants to compete from pitch-to-pitch, command both sides of the plate with his fastball, change speeds … and keep the ball in play,” Birkbeck said. “This is going to be a challenging weekend for us. Bowling Green’s an outstanding team and (us) coming off an emotional win, it’s going to be an exciting weekend.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].