Flashes’ Fridays have been freakish

Joe Murphy

Baseball team looks to improve 1-3 MAC record on Friday with series at Buffalo

Fridays have become almost too casual for the Kent State baseball team.

Since Mid-American Conference play began March 25 against Toledo, Kent State (23-14, 4-6 MAC) is 1-3 on Fridays. The Flashes have dropped the last three weekend openers after a 3-1 win over the Rockets.

Kent State coach Scott Stricklin and the Flashes hope to reverse their fortunes at 3 p.m. today at Buffalo (12-21-1, 1-6-1 MAC). The series will continue with games at 1 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday.

The last four weekends have been depressing at best for Stricklin’s team. Stricklin has explained the poor weekend play through a lackluster effort to begin the weekend.

After taking two of three from the Rockets in March, Kent State opened up Schoonover Stadium with a 6-2 loss to Ohio. The next two games of the series were canceled after heavy rain and snow.

The next weekend, the Flashes were back on the road against Marshall. The Flashes blew a 5-4 lead in the eighth inning of Friday’s game. They lost the game and the series after another loss Saturday.

Following the weekend in Marshall, Stricklin emphasized the importance of a game one win.

“We need to come out and set the tone on Friday,” he said before a weekend series with Akron.

However, Akron’s pitchers silenced the Flashes’ bats in a dominating 4-2 win over the Flashes. Zips’ pitchers did the job again Saturday, and Kent State had lost its third consecutive series.

A positive start last weekend ended up going for naught. The Flashes held a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning against Bowling Green. The game was halted after rain showers. The game and the series were eventually canceled after rain turned to snow.

The Flashes now jump into MAC play after an almost two-week leave of absence. The Flashes hope they do not have to cancel another weekend because of rain, as the forecast is calling for rain tomorrow and Sunday in Buffalo.

“The weather is a concern because the forecast is iffy,” Stricklin said. “But there’s really nothing we can do about it.

“This is a huge series for us. I’m looking forward to it. I hope we can keep swinging the bats well.”

The bats have been popping, as the Flashes have averaged 10 runs a game during the four-game win streak. Junior center fielder Joe Tucker has paved the way with eight hits and nine RBI in the last three games.

Last year, the Flashes found themselves in a similar situation while playing against Buffalo. The Flashes were struggling at 21-21 overall and 7-8 in the MAC. The three-game series against the Bulls helped to jump-start Kent State’s offense toward its MAC Title run. Kent State outscored Buffalo 33-8 in the three games.

After the four straight wins and six wins out of eight, the Flashes have earned themselves a solid overall record. But with five of the six wins coming against non-conference opponents, the Flashes still sit at ninth place in the MAC with a 4-6 record. The top six teams make the MAC Tournament.

On a positive note, the Flashes have three conference games this weekend against the MAC’s second-worst team. Kent State still has plenty of opportunities to move up as well, as nine of its last 14 games of the regular season are conference games.

Contact baseball reporter Joe Murphy at [email protected]. Joshua Hudson contributed to this story.