The Kent State baseball team dropped its series opener with Bowling Green Friday afternoon at Schoonover Stadium, losing 9-2.
The Flashes (26-8, 9-3 Mid-American Conference) got eight hits off Bowling Green starter Brennan Smith but were unable to bring baserunners home. Kent State managed to put two men on base in both the first and second innings but only came away with one run.
“If we could have put a couple runs on the board right there, that would have been big,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “We didn’t get it done.”
Starting pitcher junior Brad Stillings struggled with control early on in the first inning, allowing Falcons left fielder Patrick Martin to walk and then score on a double by catcher Tyler Elkins. First baseman Brian Hangbers gave Bowling Green a 4-0 lead with a home run drilled straight to center field.
All told, Stillings threw 37 pitches in the four-run first inning. For the game, he allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Stricklin said questionable calls by the umpire contributed to Stillings’ performance.
“I thought (Stillings) got squeezed in the first inning to be honest,” Stricklin said. “I thought he threw some good pitches, and then he made some bad pitches after he got squeezed.
“(He was) throwing the ball where we teach pitchers to throw. It’s unfortunate, but it’s baseball. It happens, and we didn’t recover from it.”
While the calls at the plate may have cost the Flashes a few runs, Stricklin pointed out that Kent State’s offense wasn’t competitive enough to win the game. For the Falcons, Smith kept the Flashes’ batters out of rhythm in the first complete game of his career.
Smith allowed baserunners on in each of the first four innings, but worked out of jams each time. After junior left fielder Anthony Gallas’s home run in the fifth inning, Smith held the Flashes hitless.
“He did a great job,” Stricklin said. “You always have to give credit to the guy who’s on the mound. Our hitters, we had a lot of poor at-bats. You could say the pitcher caused that, and rightly so.”
Saturday, Kent State and Bowling Green will meet again at 1 p.m. for game two of the three-game series.
Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected]