Flashes lose to Zips in charity game

Jonas Fortune

Left-hander Alan Morrison throws a strike during the fifth inning against the Zips last night at Canal Park.

Laura Torchia | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: Ron Soltys

Kent State coach Scott Stricklin summed up his baseball team’s 3-1 loss to rival Akron in the Inaugural Diamond Classic for Kids at Canal Park with two words: missed opportunities.

“That’s the bottom line,” Stricklin said. “When you don’t get a bunt down in a crucial situation, and we strike out looking four times — you can’t win a game when that happens.”

After the first inning, it looked as if the Flashes were ready to take control of the game. Akron freshmen left-hander Zach Yike struggled early with his command.

Kent State junior leadoff hitter Doug Sanders took a five-pitch walk from Yike to start the game. Sanders advanced to second when sophomore first baseman Brad Winter stroked an 0-2 pitch into left field for a single. A double steal set the table for freshman outfielder Anthony Gallas to continue his hot-hitting ways.

Gallas connected on a 2-2 pitch, sending the ball to Akron center fielder Charlie Lenhard and sending Sanders to the plate for the first run of the game.

Sophomore southpaw Alan Morrison then disposed of the first three Zip batters in the bottom of the inning with just nine pitches.

Akron catcher Kurt Davidson led off the bottom of the second with a single, and after moving to second on a fielder’s choice, he scored on Scott Gunn’s single, tying the game at 1.

The Zips would tack on another run in the bottom of the third on Lenhard’s two-out double. Lenhard, who finished the game 2-4, would also score the third and final run of the game in the sixth on another RBI single by Gunn.

Although the Flashes had two more hits than the Zips — Kent State finished with seven, the Zips had five — Akron came up with their hits in key situations.

“They got two-out hits and only struck out one time,” Stricklin said. “They put the ball in play. We struck out nine (times), and I think that says it all.”

Yike picked up his second win of the season, while Morrison was saddled with his second loss. Ryne Romick was able to pick up the save, his third of the season.

With the proceeds from yesterday’s game going to the Akron Children’s Hospital, Stricklin, although upset about the loss, was still excited to be playing the game for a good cause.

“We wanted to bring a lot of people out here,” he said. “We are a little disappointed in the attendance, but you got to start somewhere.”

Stricklin, who was a former assistant coach at Georgia Tech, noted that the turnout was low the first year his former school played their annual charity game at Turner Field in Atlanta, but the second time around, the game drew 27,000 — the second largest crowd ever to watch a college baseball game.

Although yesterday’s attendance was only 809, Stricklin hopes to eventually get it up to three or four thousand.

Contact assistant sports editor Jonas Fortune at [email protected].