Kent State splits weekend series against Bowling Green


Sydney Pike

Golden Flashes Baseball play Central Michigan University’s Chippewas on March 11, 2022. Sophomore Aidan Longwell is up to bat.

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

Kent State’s baseball team shifts the momentum with back-to-back walk-off victories in the final two games to split the series with Bowling Green.

Kent State is now 12-14 on the year and 7-7 in the Mid-American Conference. It is in fourth place in the MAC.

The Falcons (9-20 overall, 6-12 MAC) are in 10th.

The Flashes tallied 40 hits in the series, only having a single-digit hits game in the finale of the series.

“We didn’t come out like we wanted to,” head coach Jeff Duncan said. “But we hung in there, made some adjustments and played in two really good ball games and came out on the winning side.”

Game One: Kent State falls 9-5 to Bowling Green. 

The Flashes gave up eight runs through the first six innings before Kent State could get its first run of the game after senior center fielder Collin Mathews hit a solo home run, his fifth home run of the year and his 20th RBI of the year, in the bottom of the seventh.

Bowling Green responded in the top of the eighth with a solo home run.

The Flashes attempted to make a late comeback, scoring two runs in the eighth inning with a two-run homer from senior right fielder Justin Kirby, his sixth home run of the year.

Kent State scored two more runs in the ninth off an RBI single from sophomore third baseman Kyle Jackson and an RBI sacrifice fly from Kirby. However, it was too little too late for KSU.

The southpaw redshirt senior Collin Romel was given the loss, giving him a 2-4 record on the year. Romel didn’t have his best stuff, giving up eight runs on 13 hits in five innings of work.

Despite the loss, KSU had 10 hits in the game. The Flashes gave up 15 hits.

“I think coach Serrato, our hitting coach, has done a great job with all these guys,” Duncan said. “From the recruiting to the development right now, we want to be balanced and athletic and we are and we can create runs in a lot of different ways.”

Game Two: Kent State takes an early lead but falls 6-4 after a fourth inning surge by Bowling Green

The Flashes carried the late run surge from game one over into the early innings of the second game. Kirby continued his offensive hot streak with a solo shot, homering in each of the past three games. Sophomore shortstop Michael McNamara doubled home a run to put Kent State up 2-0 in the first inning.

In the second inning, Mathews took advantage of a wild throw on a pick-off attempt, after being walked, to advance to third. Junior left fielder Josh Johnson brought home Mathews with an RBI sacrifice fly to go up 3-0.

Junior pitcher Richie Dell struggled in the third inning, giving up six hits and a walk and allowing four runs. Bowling Green answered in the top of the third with a solo home run. Bowling Green continued with two RBI singles and an RBI double to take a 4-3 lead.

After a Bowling Green walk and single, the Falcons extended its lead to 5-3 after a scoring on a fielder’s choice in the top of the fifth. Kent State answered in the bottom of the fifth inning after Kirby doubled home a run, but he was called out trying to stretch the play into a triple.

Bowling Green picked up a run in the seventh inning after an infield single to make it 6-4. A single followed by a steal and a wild pitch allowed Bowling Green to have the runner on third.

Ritchie received the loss and is now 3-2 this season.. He surrendered four runs on eight hits and two walks in 3.2 innings.

“We know anytime anybody walks over that bridge the other team tends to play better and we’ve got to realize that,” Duncan said. “So we’ve got to be ready from the first pitch on Friday and we’re learning that we’re a little bit younger, so I think they are realizing that.”

Kent State gave up 12 hits in the game, while only having five of their own.

The Flashes got back on the win column in game three after a 5-4 walk-off victory. 

Kent State put up four runs in the bottom of the third, starting with junior second baseman Mack Timbrook’s RBI single. KSU picked up another single and then Johnson went opposite field for a three-run homer. Johnson has been having an incredible year, batting .339 on the year.

However, Bowling Green wasn’t done yet. The team capitalized on two walks with the bases loaded to score two runs.

Then in the top of the ninth, a two-run single allowed Bowling Green to tie the game at four.

Sophomore first baseman Aidan Longwell said enough was enough and ended the game with a walk-off double in the bottom of the tenth.

Redshirt junior pitcher Benjamin Cruikshank was on top of his game, striking out six batters and only allowing two runs on two hits in 5.1 innings of work.

“We got a great start from Cruikshank,” Duncan said. “They had a lot of momentum on their side, and he kind of nailed that a little bit, which was huge for us.”

The Flashes had 10 hits in the game and drew nine walks. Kent State’s pitching struck out 12 batters total in the game.

“We want to have a relentless mentality, but also need to be disciplined,” Duncan said. “I feel like we have a really good strike zone awareness, I thought earlier in the year we didn’t and I think we’ve really improved on that.”

Kent State gets second straight walk-off victory in 4-3 win

Bowling Green took the lead early with a two-run home run in the first inning. The first runner reached base on an error.

However, freshman pitcher Eric Chalus recovered in dominating fashion. He pitched 6.2 innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks. He only allowed four hits and had just one earned run.

“They lead off the game with an error and that’s not how we wanna start that game,” Duncan said. “But it is amazing how composed [Chalus] is for a freshman and how relentless and competitive he is.”

Kent State answered in the bottom of the second, loading the bases after two walks and a single. Johnson picked up yet another RBI on a ground out.

Jackson singled home a run in the bottom of the fifth after two flashes reached on a pair of singles to tie the game at two.

After a Mathews walk, Timbrook doubled home Mathews with an RBI to right center taking the lead 3-2.

Bowling Green tied game in the ninth for the second game in a row after an RBI single in the top of the inning.

Jackson doubled to open up the bottom of the ninth and was followed by a Kirby single. Longwell was intentionally walked to load the bases where McNamara was crowned the hero in this one with an RBI sacrifice fly.

The Flashes had eight hits, drawing six base on balls. KSU did not surrender a single base on balls in this game.

“Building momentum going into next weekend against Toledo,” Duncan said. “There are only four teams that make it to our tournament, and we’re right where we need to be.”

Kent State will play the first of a four game series on Friday against Toledo (15-16, 9-10), which is in fifth place.

Jacob Hansen is a reporter. Contact him at [email protected]