Baseball requires extras in win over

Josh Johnston

WATCH highlights from yesterday’s game.

Behind some late-inning heroics on the mound by Andrew Chafin, the Kent State baseball team outlasted Malone 3-2 in 10 innings yesterday afternoon at Schoonover Stadium.

The freshman lefty worked out of two situations with runners on third at the top of the 10th to keep the Flashes’ hopes alive. With one out, Chafin shoveled a bunt back to freshman catcher David Lyon on a suicide squeeze play at home.

A stolen base and throwing error later, Chafin found himself in a similar jam. This time, he forced Malone third baseman Alex Schmid to pop out to center field and end the threat.

“Andrew Chafin was the reason why we won,” Kent State manager Scott Stricklin said. “He was as good as you possibly could be. He saved the game for us, no question.”

After walking his first batter on four straight balls, Chafin retired five straight Pioneers between the eighth and ninth innings, registering four strikeouts in the process. In three total innings of work, Chafin punched out six, allowed one hit and picked up his third win on the season.

“I just relaxed, caught my breath, slowed things down and went with it,” Chafin said. “I went out there and threw like I could. It just worked out.”

The Flashes (17-6) relied heavily on Chafin’s relief performance after failing to come up with key hits at the plate. Kent State stranded eight runners in scoring position, leaving the bases loaded in the sixth inning.

“Our offense was nonexistent today,” Stricklin said. “It was really tough to watch today. Our approach offensively, we looked tentative and confused. We’re very, very fortunate to come away with a win.”

Freshman third baseman Travis Shaw gave the Flashes just enough offense to beat Malone. With the team down by a run in the third inning, Shaw ripped a double through the gap in right field to score junior center fielder Jared Humphreys.

Shaw wasn’t finished yet. With the bases loaded in the 10th, he connected for a walk-off infield single to give Kent State the win. Shaw said he wasn’t sure the grounder sent straight to second would be a hit.

“I thought he was going to be able to get to it and step on second,” he said. “It got through, thank goodness.”

Before the 10th inning, the game was mostly a pitchers’ duel. Four Malone pitchers combined to limit the Flashes to six hits in the first six innings. Losing pitcher senior Ryan Hartong held Kent State to just one hit in the three innings prior to the 10th.

Kent State’s hurlers were not to be outdone. Led by Chafin, five pitchers scattered six hits for two runs. Freshman lefty David Starn needed only six pitches to retire Malone in order in the seventh inning.

“David Starn was outstanding,” Stricklin said, “(and) without Andrew Chafin, I don’t know if we win that game.”

The Flashes will travel to State College, Pa., to take on Penn State at 5:35 p.m. today. Last week, the Nittany Lions beat Kent State 9-2.

Contact sports reporter Josh Johnston at [email protected].