An Easter split with the Huskies

Doug Gulasy

Flashes end five-game losing streak with 7-2 win in second game

Pitcher Jon Porkorny throws to first baseman Brad Winter in an attempt to pick off Northern Illinois outfielder Pat Minogue. Minogue made it back to the base safely and came around to score in the sixth inning of Sunday afternoon’s first game. The Huskies

Credit: Jason Hall

The cold air was occasionally filled with snow flurries, and the stands at Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium were nearly empty.

Yet, on the field, the unmistakable sound of a bat striking a ball could be heard as the Kent State baseball team split a doubleheader with Northern Illinois.

The Flashes lost the first game, 11-8, but defeated Northern Illinois, 7-2, in game two Sunday afternoon, avoiding a sweep and ending a five-game losing streak on a day when the weather was more suitable for football than baseball.

“We played good defense, we pitched well and we got some timely hitting,” said coach Scott Stricklin after the game.

Senior Jason Seelman picked up his first victory of the season for the Flashes (12-19, 4-5 Mid-American Conference). Seelman came on in relief of senior starting pitcher John Pacella and pitched five scoreless innings.

“Jason was the key to our victory today,” Stricklin said. “We needed someone to come in out of the bullpen and give us some good innings, and he did that.”

It didn’t take long for the team to take the lead in this game. After Pacella pitched a scoreless first inning, sophomore shortstop Chris Tremblay led off the bottom of the inning with a single. After consecutive strikeouts, sophomore Brad Winter knocked his third home run of the season over the wall in left to give the Flashes a 2-0 lead.

However, Northern Illinois cut the lead in half in the top of the second and would have tied it up were it not for Kent State freshman left fielder Anthony Gallas, who threw a Huskies baserunner out at the plate.

But the Huskies would not be denied in the top of the third, scoring a two-out, unearned run to knot the game at 2.

That would be the end of Northern Illinois’s scoring in the game. Seelman entered the game in the fourth and only gave up three hits in his five innings, twice setting the Huskies down in order. He also received some defensive help, as two double plays were turned behind him.

The Flashes regained the lead in the fourth. With one out, sophomore designated hitter Ryan Mitchell reached second on a two-base error. The next batter, senior catcher Will Vazquez, stroked what would be the game-winning single up the middle, scoring Mitchell. Redshirt freshman center fielder Conor Egan widened the lead with a run-scoring double. Then Tremblay brought him around with a triple to give the team a 5-2 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Flashes picked up some insurance runs. With two outs, Tremblay scored from third on a passed ball, and senior third baseman Andrew Davis followed with a double as junior second baseman Doug Sanders scored, providing the final margin.

Junior pitcher Reid Lamport closed the game with a scoreless ninth, walking two but getting a double play.

The team lost, 2-0, to the Huskies on Friday. Saturday’s game was delayed in the second inning because of snow and resumed play early Sunday afternoon.

In that game, the Flashes rebounded from an early 4-1 deficit with five runs in the second. They led, 8-6, after three innings before things began to slip away.

Northern Illinois tied it up in the sixth inning, then took a 9-8 lead in the seventh. The final score was 11-8 Huskies, with junior pitcher Dominique Rodgers (1-4) taking the loss for the Flashes.

“I really commend our kids for coming out after the way the first game ended and winning this game,” Stricklin said.

Next up for the Flashes is a 4 p.m. Wednesday game against Wooster at Schoonover Stadium.

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].