Baseball team hitting its offensive stride

Josh Johnston

Flashes face Marshall after scoring 42 runs in last three games

Kent State manager Scott Stricklin described the baseball team’s offense as “tough to watch” last Tuesday in the Flashes’ game against Malone.

But after the offense scored 42 runs in three games against Northern Illinois over the weekend, Stricklin has a different opinion.

The Flashes (21-6) will look to keep their offense rolling this afternoon when they host Marshall at Schoonover Stadium. Kent State topped Marshall 15-10 earlier this season.

THE GAME Kent State (21-6) vs. Marshall (13-7)

Where: Schoonover Stadium

When: 3 p.m. today

On the mound

Kent State: Freshman Ryan Mace (1-1, 2.93 ERA)

Marshall: Freshman Mike Mason (1-0, 5.56)

Stricklin said Kent State’s batters are being more selective with pitches, which has improved their plate appearances.

“Guys (are) getting better pitches to hit, being aggressive in aggressive counts (and) not getting themselves out as often,” he said. “Hitters usually get themselves out a lot more often than pitchers get them out. That was the case for a couple games, (with) guys just swinging at bad pitches.”

Despite earlier offensive inconsistencies, Kent State still has a formidable lineup. Led by senior infielder Greg Rohan with a .362 batting average, seven starters for the Flashes bat above .300. Rohan also leads the team in home runs (eight), runs batted in (33) and runs scored (32).

Stricklin said while Rohan’s numbers have been good, they could get even better.

“The exciting thing for all of us, and I think Greg too, (is) I think he can get better,” Stricklin said. “He hasn’t really gone on a tear yet like he did the last couple years. As the season goes on, I think Greg gets better.”

Kent State has also found offensive production from freshman infielders Jimmy Rider and Travis Shaw. Rider, a starter in 24 of the Flashes’ 27 games, is second on the team with a .351 batting average. In the series against Northern Illinois, Rider batted 5-for-10 and scored seven times.

Shaw is quickly becoming a clutch hitter for the Flashes. He followed his walk-off single last Tuesday against Malone with a walk-off grand slam Sunday against the Huskies.

“That’s more than you can ask for,” Rohan said. “It’s hard to expect (freshmen) to come in here and do as good as they’re doing. It’s a great help to our whole team, and those guys are big keys to our offense.”

While Shaw said the Flashes have improved offensively over the last week, he added they’re not finished yet.

“We can still be a lot better,” Shaw said. “We’re still giving a few at-bats away. We have a lot more room for improvement to make the team better.”

Contact principal sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].