Baseball’s offense outscores Bulls 41-17 in series sweep

Joe Murphy

Nothing seems to help a struggling team better than a weekend trip to upstate New York.

For the second consecutive year, the Kent State baseball team used its three-game series against Buffalo to jump start its offense. The Flashes swept the series, outscoring the Bulls 41-17 during the weekend after outscoring the Bulls 33-8 in last year’s series.

Kent State coach Scott Stricklin went into the series against Buffalo (12-24-1, 1-9-1 Mid-American Conference) emphasizing the importance of setting the tone on Friday.

The Flashes (26-14, 7-6 MAC) responded in a big way, scoring five runs in the first two innings of their 9-2 win on Friday.

Despite rain pushing Saturday’s game back until yesterday, the Flashes continued to roll in a doubleheader, winning 7-3 in the first game. Kent State then exploded in game two, pounding the Bulls 25-12.

The offense enjoyed success from top to bottom on Friday, as each starter recorded at least one hit. Second baseman Drew Saylor was one of four Flashes to finish the day with two or more hits, as the junior went 3-for-4 on the afternoon. Saylor drove home the first run of the game in the top of the first with a two-out double to right center. Saylor would later score on designated hitter Kurt Eichorn’s single up the middle. After stealing second, Eichorn scored on a base hit by catcher Todd Balduf.

Kent State would add two more in the second when sophomore Andrew Davis plated two on a base hit to right field. Buffalo’s Matt Johnson would go no further than the second inning, surrendering five runs and seven hits.

Kent State’s Jason Brunke (3-3), who in past games has been let down by his team’s offense, received more support than he needed as the senior took a shutout into the sixth inning. Brunke finished the afternoon giving up only one run and three hits in eight innings of work. Brunke’s control occasionally got him into trouble as he walked five and hit two batters. But the Flashes’ ace bailed himself out with five strikeouts, leaving eight Bulls stranded on the bases.

“Jason Brunke threw very well today,” coach Stricklin said on “If he walked a guy, he came right back and made the pitches he needed to get out of it.”

With the three wins over the weekend, Kent State has won seven in a row and has outscored its opponents 81-32 during the streak. The 7-6 conference record is also the first time the defending champs have been above .500 in the conference since an April 1 loss to Ohio dropped the Flashes to 2-2.

Contact baseball reporter Joe Murphy at [email protected].