Young pitcher helps baseball extend streak

Chris Gates

Freshman wins debut, team takes 12th straight

Freshman Justin Gill pitches in the fourth inning of the game against Marshall yesterday at Schoonover Stadium. The Flashes beat the Thundering Herd 4-1. Sam Twarek | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Freshman starter Justin Gill earned his first win in his first ever start, pitching five innings to lead the Kent State baseball team to a 4-1 win over Marshall yesterday.

The win extends the winning streak to 12 for the Flashes. Each win provides the team with growing confidence.

“We feel really good,” junior Greg Rohan said. “We feel like every day we come out we’ve got a good chance to win.”

The Flashes did so in a different fashion Tuesday, winning only their second game of the season when scoring less than five runs. The previous weekend, Kent State compiled a total of 32 runs at Bowling Green.




Winning pitcher:

Justin Gill – 5.0 IP, 3 BB, 3 SO

* The appearance for Gill was the first of his collegiate career

“We played good defense and we pitched,” coach Scott Stricklin said. “In the middle of the week, sometimes it’s tough to get guys going. Yeah, we won the game, I’m happy with that, but I always feel like we can do better. That’s what I’m challenging these guys with right now: don’t be satisfied and keep playing hard.”

Gill impressed his coaches and teammates, pitching longer than any expected. In five innings, he walked three and struck out three allowing four hits. Only one run was scored while Gill was on the mound.

“Actually, we were hoping for about three innings from him,” Stricklin said. “He gave us five against a very good offensive team. (I’m) very happy with what Justin did.”

Gill was provided with early run support in the second inning. With junior Brad Winter at third base, freshman John Lydic doubled to the gap in right center to make the score 1-0.

Senior Ryan Tokarz then singled, driving in Lydic. To finish the scoring in the second, senior Doug Sanders singled and drove in Tokarz, who stole second during the at-bat.

After a run by Marshall in the top of the fifth, Greg Rohan answered with a run of his own, and the score was 4-1. Rohan grabbed a hold of a pitch and sent it high over the left field wall to increase the lead back to three. Rohan now leads the team in home runs with nine, and RBIs with 33.

“It was 1-0, he threw me a fastball, and then he shook off a couple of times,” Rohan said. “Then (he) threw another fastball, I just got in to it. Lucky day, the wind’s blowing out a little bit.”

Though the middle of the lineup gets much of the attention for offensive output, Rohan noted that everyone pitched in for the win Tuesday.

“It’s pretty much one through nine,” Rohan said. “Three of our four runs came from the last three guys. It’s pretty much the whole team.”

Freshman Brett Weibly, who normally plays as an infielder, made his second appearance of the season on the pitching mound. This time, Weibly went two scoreless innings, compared to the one scoreless inning he had April 8 against Wooster.

Reid Lamport then came on in the eighth and added two scoreless innings of his own, earning the save and securing a Kent State victory.

Kent State is focusing it’s attention on strong pitching and defense. Both have done the job lately, resulting in the current win streak. Stricklin said that, when starters can pitch strong during the week, it helps keep the team on track.

“It just helps trying to keep our momentum in the middle of the week,” Stricklin said. “When you’re playing well during the weekend, you want to continue to play well during the mid-week.”

The Flashes have another mid-week test tonight, traveling to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne. Stricklin said that the approach will be the same, strong defense and pitching, but hopes his team can score a few more runs.

The Flashes return home Friday for a weekend series against Ohio, currently second in the Mid-American Conference East behind Kent State.

Contact sports reporter Chris Gate at [email protected].