Rival Zips, Flashes face off in three-game series

Joshua Hudson

Sophomore Emmanuel Burriss hits a groundball during an earlier game this season. Kent State will host Akron this weekend.

Credit: Andrew popik

The Boston Red Sox honored their World Series championship by handing out their rings against the rival New York Yankees.

Kent State will use a similar approach when it honors last season’s Mid-American Conference Championship with a ring ceremony tomorrow against Akron.

The MAC rivals begin a three-game series today at Schoonover Stadium with first pitch scheduled for 3 p.m. The weekend games are set for 1 p.m.

This marks the first time Kent State coach Scott Stricklin gets to face the Zips as the head coach. Stricklin last played against Akron in 1993 as a catcher for Kent State. He said coaching against a rival is probably easier than playing.

“It’s easier because you don’t have to motivate the guys as much,” he said. “The guys know what they have to do and pretty much motivate themselves when it comes to playing a rival.”

The Flashes (19-12, 3-4) look to carry the momentum of a three-game winning streak into this weekend’s series. During the winning streak, Kent State has showed they can beat teams in a variety of ways.

An offensive explosion led to a 20-6 win over Marshall; small ball and good base running led to the victory over Wright State; clutch pitching and solid defense earned the Flashes a victory over Cleveland State.

Sophomore shortstop Emmanuel Burriss said it is good to see the team win in a variety of ways.

“It shows people that we can win without hitting the long ball,” he said after the victory over Wright State. “Teams can’t just key on one part of our game.”

Junior Joe Tucker and Burriss will hope to continue to set up the rest of the offense with their aggressive base running. They have a combined 32 stolen bases for the year. That sets-up RBI chances for juniors Drew Saylor (31) and Kurt Eichorn (35).

The Zips (11-19, 2-2 MAC) are led on offense by senior Doug Kruthaupt, who enters the series with a .348 batting average. Junior Bill McKinney is next with a .330 batting average and leads the team with 32 RBIs. Junior Ross Liersemann leads the pitching staff with a 4.35 earned-run average in 49 2/3 innings, but enters the game with a 1-4 record.

“Both sides are going to be prepared and ready to play,” Stricklin said. “This game has been a good rivalry in all sports and baseball is no different.”

Fraternity home run derby

After tomorrow’s game with Akron, the Kent State baseball team is hosting a fraternity home run derby contest at Schoonover Stadium. All fraternities can elect one player to represent them in the contest.

“It might end up being a longest ball hit contest,” Stricklin said. “It takes a pretty good hit to get it out of here.”

Contact baseball reporter Joshua Hudson at [email protected].