Baseball manufactures success

Josh Johnston

Flashes have won six straight with small ball

The Kent State baseball team will travel to Toledo this weekend and look to extend one of the program’s best starts in school history.

The Flashes (22-6, 7-1 Mid-American Conference) are riding a six-game winning streak heading into a three-game series with the Rockets. Since Kent State’s March 17 home opener, the team has won 14 of its last 16 games, including 12 of 13 at Schoonover Stadium.


KENT STATE (22-6, 7-1 MAC) at TOLEDO (13-15, 6-3 MAC)

Where: Scott Park, Toledo

When: 3 p.m. today, 1 p.m. tomorrow, 1 p.m. Sunday

“We’re trying to win every game we can,” said freshman pitcher Ryan Mace, who got the win in the Flashes’ 13-2 victory against Marshall on Wednesday. “We’re trying to get to regionals, and every game is important.”

Kent State’s ability to score runs has helped the team in its winning streak, Kent State manager Scott Stricklin said.

While the Flashes have proven power hitters in senior infielder Greg Rohan (41 career home runs) and junior outfielder Anthony Gallas (.542 career slugging percentage), much of Kent State’s run support this season hasn’t come from the long ball.

“I think we’ve got a lot of power as a team, up and down our lineup,” Stricklin said. “We haven’t really displayed it so much, but we’re still scoring a lot of runs. That’s encouraging to see that we can manufacture runs. We did that a couple times (Wednesday against Marshall).”

Against the Thundering Herd, Kent State scored 13 runs behind 14 hits, only four of which were for extra bases and none of which were home runs. The Flashes are first in the MAC in sacrifice flies (21) and third in sacrifice bunts (18) this season.

Kent State will need to continue to find ways to score this afternoon when it faces Toledo at Scott Park. Toledo starting pitcher Justin Collop (2-3, 4.73 ERA) has surrendered only one home run in 32 1/3 innings this season. Overall, the Rockets’ pitching staff has allowed 22 homers, third best in the MAC.

Toledo (13-15, 6-3 MAC) will enter today’s game coming off a 24-4 win against Oakland on Wednesday. Last season, Kent State swept the Rockets at Schoonover Stadium, outscoring them 27-11.

On the mound today, the Flashes will counter with junior righthander Brad Stillings (4-0, 3.63). In his last start on April 3, Stillings struck out seven batters and gave up three runs in six innings of work in Kent State’s 9-3 win.

“It’s going to be a challenge going there on the road and playing at (Toledo’s) field,” Stricklin said. “We need to come in there ready to play. Hopefully, (we’ll) go over there and win the weekend.”

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].