Baseball team drops three in South Carolina

Chris Gates

Kent State baseball learned more about itself as a team this weekend at the Coca-Cola Classic at Winthrop Ballpark in Rock Hill, S.C.

After losing to nationally ranked St. John’s Thursday, the Flashes faced another power in North Carolina Friday, followed by two games against Winthrop Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s still early, and we’ve played all good teams,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “Every team we’ve played so far will have a chance to be in the postseason. We have to learn from our mistakes and try to get better.”

The Tar Heels’ starting pitcher, Alex White, dominated the Flashes in six innings pitched, walking one and striking out six. White allowed one run in the game on fielding mistake by North Carolina’s sophomore right fielder, Tim Fedroff.

The Tar Heels needed no such luck at the plate as junior Chris Carpenter had another rough start in his second outing this season. Carpenter aided the Tar Heel bats with control problems in the early stages of the game.

Carpenter allowed four runs in the first inning, as well as three more in the second. He lasted four innings, allowing eight runs (seven earned), seven hits, two walks and three hit batters.

“He struggled with his command early,” Stricklin said. “Once he settled in, his third and fourth innings were pretty good. But his pitch count got way too high; he just didn’t have the command on his pitches that he normally does.”

That was all the Flashes would allow though as the bullpen took over in the fifth and pitched a shutout for the five remaining innings.

Freshman Kyle Hallock pitched five innings of scoreless baseball. Hallock allowed two hits while striking out five.

Hallock’s impressive performance may have set a fire under the pitching staff, as Saturday featured a stellar starting pitching performance.

Freshman Kyle Smith got the start for Kent State and made the most of it. Smith pitched six and two-thirds innings allowing three runs (two earned) and eight hits while striking out three en route to a 5-3 Kent State victory over Winthrop.

The Flashes led 2-1 after a crazy series of events in the fourth inning.

Sanders drove in a run on a single to tie the game at 1-1. Sophomore Anthony Gallas then singled to put runners at the corner bases.

The next batter was junior Brad Winter, who hit a hard-line drive to right field. Winthrop right fielder, senior Billy Froehlich, made a diving catch, and doubled up Gallas who had already rounded second. In the process, Sanders tagged and scored before the out was made, and the Flashes were ahead 2-1.

Winthrop would answer and tie the game at two, but in the seventh inning Winter put Kent State ahead for good. Winter knocked a two-run home run off of the scoreboard in left-center field putting the Flashes ahead 4-2.

The Flashes and Eagles traded runs until the ninth inning when senior closer Reid Lamport came in the game. Lamport made thing interesting, allowing two Winthrop baserunners, but eventually got the save in a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.

As a result of tournament placement, Kent State and Winthrop met again Sunday. Kent State’s pitching continued to produce quality innings, but the Flashes were unable to get run support and lost 5-0.

“Their starting pitcher kept us off-balance all day,” Stricklin said. “And, offensively we just couldn’t get anything going.”

Sophomore Brad Stillings started for the Flashes, pitching six innings and allowing two earned runs.

Stricklin noted that Sundays are normally days when you are facing the opposing team’s third best pitcher. This normally opens the game up for scoring.

“You’ve got to be able to score some runs on Sunday,” Stricklin said. “That’s two Sundays in a row that we haven’t provided any run support.”

Stillings has pitched both Sundays for the Flashes this season, losing both games.

The Flashes travel to Washington State on Friday for a three game series. Currently, the Flashes are 2-5 on the season.

Contact sports reporter Chris Gates at [email protected].