Davis, Davis lead Flashes to 7-1 victory over Malone

Matt Gottfried

Andrew Davis, junior infielder, is caught in a rundown between first and second base during Kent State’s 7-1 win over Malone yesterday at Schoonover Stadium. SEAN DAUGHERTY | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Freshman pitcher Steven Davis made the most of his first career start against the Malone Pioneers (32-10) yesterday, as he tossed four-plus innings of three-hit ball in the Kent State baseball team’s 7-1 victory.

In the win, Davis surpassed his entire season total of innings pitched. He threw four and a third innings, giving up just one earned run while lowering his ERA to 4.44.

“Steven did a great job for us,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “That’s his first start and you expect to see some nerves, but he was really calm and composed. He did a real good job for us and helped to set the tone for the game.”

The outing marks the second-straight solid performance from Kent State starting pitchers, as junior J.J. Pacella’s performances last week earned him Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Week honors Monday. Against Ball State, he surrendered just three hits in seven innings to improve to 3-0 this season with a 2.84 ERA.

But the starters weren’t the only ones on the pitching staff performing well.

With two runners on and just one out in the fifth, sophomore Reid Lamport entered looking to preserve the Flashes’ 2-1 lead. After recording a strikeout against the first batter, he proceeded to walk the next hitter before getting out of the jam with another strikeout.

“Well, we put Reid in that situation because those are the kind of jams he’s going to have to get us out of during the week,” Stricklin said. “We wanted to see him do that and that’s exactly what he did today.”

The Flashes (21-12) were the first to get on the board in the third inning, after senior center fielder Joe Tucker lined an RBI single and later scored on junior Andrew Davis’ base hit. Davis had a number of clutch hits in the non-conference affair, leading all hitters with his 4-for-5 performance at the plate.

“Davis was voted captain for a reason,” Stricklin said. “He’s such a hard worker and plays hard. He has gotten a lot of big hits for us and he’s the one we want up in clutch situations.

“He’s batting behind Kurt (Eichorn) for a reason. If they want to throw around Kurt, then they have to face him and he’s second on the team in hitting.”

Davis is hitting .378 this season, falling behind only senior Emmanuel Burriss and his .386 average. Typically a third baseman for the team, Davis made his second start of the season as the designated hitter, a position that was rarely friendly to him.

“It’s weird because I’d rather play infield, where it feels like I’m more in the game,” Davis said. “Last summer I DH’ed a lot, but I was hitting horrible. The only other time I batted there this year I was like 0-for-4 or something. I was real pumped about being able to finally hit in the DH spot and help the team out.”

Malone kept within striking distance through much of the game, scoring one run in the top of the fifth to cut its deficit to 2-1. But the Flashes quickly answered the run with four of their own to blow the game over.

Saylor led off bottom frame with a single and was followed by Eichorn who reached base on an error. The Flashes then proceeded to shell out four consecutive singles as the first seven batters of the inning successfully reached base.

Kent State finished with 14 hits on the night compared to Malone, who managed to hit only four of its own.

“We’re competitive everyday in practice and we got a lot of guys who can play,” Stricklin said. “We have a lot of good athletes on this team, and it’s nice that we don’t have a set lineup yet. A lot of guys are battling for playing time.”

The Flashes will next be in action at 3 p.m. today, when they head to Wright State for non-conference action.

Contact baseball reporter Matt Gottfried at [email protected]