Baseball keeps conference lead with wins over Ohio

Chris Gates

Timely late inning hits lead the Flashes to victory, team remains in first place

Flashes senior infielder Doug Sanders tags out an Ohio Bobcat in the Flashes 7-2 loss at Schoonover stadium Friday. Brian Marks | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Weekend Results

Friday

Ohio 7 – Kent State 2

Saturday

Kent State 6 – Ohio 5

Sunday

Kent State 6 – Ohio 5

*Greg Rohan hit a combined four homeruns in the series against Ohio. Kent State goes to 24-17 overall and 9-6 in the MAC East. The Flashes stayed atop the conference with the wins.

With two wins over Ohio this weekend, the Kent State baseball team (24-17, 9-6 Mid-American Conference) gave itself a bit of breathing room and remained in first place in the MAC’s East Division.

An opening loss Friday, 7-2, dropped Kent State to second, but Saturday and Sunday wins gave the Flashes the series win and sole possession of first place. Coach Scott Stricklin said that the resiliency of his team was the major factor in beating Ohio.

“We were losing in two games, on Saturday and Sunday, (but) were able to come back and get big wins,” Stricklin said. “I think it says a lot about our team. They didn’t quit.

“Our team, right now, has turned into a resilient team,” he added. “A month ago, we wouldn’t have won today.”

Sunday’s win was due to a combination of solid relief efforts from the bullpen, and a clutch opposite field base hit.

Sophomore Jon Pokorny came to the mound in the seventh inning and pitched four straight innings of scoreless baseball for the Flashes. Pokorny struck out three and allowed only three hits in his four innings of work.

“He was just outstanding,” Stricklin said. “To have him come in, in a tough situation like that and to keep them at bay, he really had a great day. He has really worked hard and turned himself into a guy that can go longer stints.”

In the 11th, freshman Justin Gill entered the game and pitched another scoreless inning, setting up the Flashes for the game winning play.

Freshman Brett Weibly was the first Kent State batter to hit safely with a single. Junior Jason Patton was then substituted as a pinch hitter, and rocketed a ball to third base. The Ohio third baseman, Zach Hartle, was unable to grab the ball and runners were at the corners.

Junior Chris Tremblay entered, and hit an opposite field shot to right field. The hit gave Kent State a 6-5 win, Gill the victory. Gill is now 4-0 on the season as a relief pitcher.

In both Saturday and Sunday’s wins, junior Greg Rohan had the hot bat. Rohan hit a total of four homeruns over the two games, leading all Kent State bats. With sophomore Anthony Gallas hitting before him, and sophomore Jared Bartholomew hitting after him, Rohan is getting good pitches to swing at and is taking advantage of the situation.

“He’s really swinging the bat well, he’s seeing it well,” Stricklin said. “He’s going to get pitches to hit. That makes it pretty tough on a pitcher.”

While Rohan was knocking them out of the park Saturday, Tremblay and sophomore Jared Humphreys were doing the same. Tremblay hit a solo homerun and Humphreys hit a two-run shot to help Kent State to a 6-5 win.

Junior Chris Carpenter went seven innings strong as the starter, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits. Senior Reid Lamport pitched the eighth and ninth, earning the win.

By winning two of three against Ohio, Kent State also moved to within two games of Eastern Michigan for the overall MAC lead. The cushion in their division, however, is not a distraction for Stricklin or the team.

“To go in to next weekend with a little bit of a cushion, yeah sure it feels good our guys deserve it,” Stricklin said. “But we’re still not done. We’ve still got nine games to go.”

Kent State will face Pittsburgh and Youngstown State during the week, and then return to MAC action over the weekend against Buffalo. All five games are at home.

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected]