Flashes suffer loss to Ball State in MAC championship game

Dan Stroble

The Kent State baseball team contemplates its defeat at the hands of Ball State Saturday at the MAC championship game, 7-4.

Credit: Steve Schirra

     The Kent State baseball team lost its final chance at winning the MAC Championship with a 7-4 defeat by the Ball State Cardinals Saturday at Kent State’s Schoonover Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Wins over Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan in the preliminary rounds of the tournament sent the team into an extra-inning loss against the Cardinals on Friday. The loss sent the Flashes into a battle with the Miami RedHawks earlier on Saturday.

After an 11-1 win over Miami, the team made it into the championship game, giving them a chance at clinching their sixth MAC title since 1992.

Kent State scored in the bottom of the second as Todd Balduf’s grounder sent firstbaseman Kurt Eichorn home. This was the last time first-ranked Kent State (38-19) would lead the championship game. Third-ranked Ball State (37-20) tied the contest in the top of the third inning when center fielder Mike Sullivan doubled.

The Cardinals took the lead in the top of the fourth with a Kyle Dygert two-run home run. With two outs, Kent State pitcher Jason Seelman was brought in for starting pitcher Steve Ross.

In the bottom of the fourth, Eichorn was hit by a pitch and advanced to second base on a passed ball. Eichorn scored off of Balduf’s single to make the score 3-2.

The Cardinals scored two runs off of four hits in the top of the fifth. Third baseman C.J. Webb hit a single to left field. Earnhart and Sullivan came in for the score.

Kent State narrowed the score to 5-4 in a busy fifth inning. A single by MAC Player of the Year, Emmanuel Burriss, drove in designated hitter Brad Winter. Burriss crossed home on a throwing error off of a Joe Tucker ground ball.

Opportunities for the Flashes to take the lead heightened as neither team scored in the sixth through eighth innings. But they were silenced when Ball State scored a run each off a fly out and a ground out.

“We just weren’t swinging the bats the way we needed to. I tip my cap to their pitching staff,” said Kent State Head Coach Scott Stricklin in a press release. “Ball State played better than anyone down the stretch, and they deserved to win this tournament.”

With its win, Ball State received an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Kent State must wait until Monday to find out if it will get an at-large bid into the tournament.

Awards were given to both teams in a post-game ceremony. Five Cardinals, including MVP Kyle Dygert, were named to the MAC All-Tournament Team list. Davis, Eichorn and starting pitcher Chad Wagler were Kent State players named on the list.

Contact general assignment Dan Stroble at [email protected]