Weather shortens opening weekend

Joe Murphy

Pitcher Jason Seelman throws the ball to first baseman Andy Hargrove, retiring an Ohio University hitter Friday at Schoonover Stadium. The Flashes lost 6-2.

Credit: Joe Murphy

Mother Nature played a delayed April Fool’s joke on the Flashes.

She made them think they were going to open up Schoonover Stadium with a three-game series against Ohio.

Ha ha.

The two teams managed to get one game in on Friday afternoon, a 6-2 loss against Ohio, before a winter blast left Schoonover Stadium covered in a blanket of snow. Road trips to South Carolina and Florida all of a sudden became more of a dream than a drag for the team.

After Friday’s loss to the Bobcats, (7-12, 2-2 Mid-American Conference) the Flashes (13-10, 2-2 MAC) were hoping for another opportunity in the weekend to snap their three-game losing skid. The Flashes will have to wait until at least tomorrow for another try, when they head back on the road to battle Duquesne.

The Flashes may have preferred to have the whole weekend washed out, as they struggled with the bats and with the glove in Friday’s game. As the temperatures dropped from the 50s at game time to lower 40s by the end, so did the hopes of a Flashes’ rally.

Despite a shaky first inning, the Flashes’ defense was solid behind pitcher Jason Brunke. But two fielding errors and a throwing error paved the way to two first-inning runs for the Bobcats. Brunke was in control the rest of the game, giving up just two runs in his next six innings of work. The Bobcats played small ball on offense, tallying all 10 of their hits with singles.

Brunke finished the game giving up two earned runs and striking out three in seven innings of work. But he took the loss, dropping his record to 2-2 on the year.

“Jason threw the ball very well today,” coach Scott Stricklin said.

“We didn’t give him a lot of help. I told the guys Jason deserved a lot better than what we gave him today.”

As well as Brunke pitched, Ohio’s Derek Witt was just a few pitches better. Witt finished one out short of a complete game, going 8.2 strong innings, giving up two runs and striking out five.

The Flashes’ bats got to Witt in both the second and ninth innings. In the bottom half of the second inning, Kent State plated one run and threatened more. With one out, first baseman Andy Hargrove singled to right center. Hargrove moved up to third after left fielder Chuck Moore doubled to left. Right fielder Eric Holick then earned his first RBI of the day on a groundout to second. Moore was able to move up to third on the play. But he was unable to move up another 90 feet after shortstop Emmanuel Burriss ended the inning with a groundout to Witt, ending any threat.

Holick was also responsible for the other RBI of the afternoon in the bottom of the ninth. With two outs and pinch runner Gregg Hiller on first, Holick doubled to right center, scoring Hiller all the way from first. The earned run chased Witt from the game and spoiled his bid at a complete game.

But outside of the runs in the second and ninth, the Flashes failed to get many baserunners across the plate for the third straight game. Kent State has only scored five runs combined in the last three contests.

“We had the jitters,” Stricklin said. “I’m not sure why. This was our third time on the field. It was their first. Guys have to step it up. We’re a little bit tight at the plate right now.”

The Flashes travel to Pittsburgh on tomorrow and will spend the weekend in Huntington, W.Va. before returning home April 5 against Wright State. Tomorrow’s game against Duquesne is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Contact baseball reporter Joe Murphy at [email protected].