Baseball drops three straight after opening Toledo series with a win against Toledo


Matthew Brown

Kent State Junior Justin Miknis bats during the game against PITT on April 12, 2022.

Jacob Hansen, Reporter

The Kent State men’s baseball team won the first game of the weekend, but lost the last three after several comebacks from Toledo in the later innings.

The Flashes are now 13-18 on the year and 8-10 in the Mid-American Conference.

Kent State fell out of fourth place into a tie for sixth place in the MAC which would put them out of the conference tournament.

KSU tallied 40 hits in the series despite losing three out of the four games.

The Flashes hit five home runs in a comeback victory over Toledo in game one. 

Kent State won 10-6 in the series opener after falling behind 1-0 early in the bottom of the first from a Toledo single.

KSU tied it up in the second inning with the first home run of the day from sophomore first baseman Aidan Longwell, his sixth home run of the year.

Toledo answered in the bottom half of the inning with a two-run jack to take a 3-1 lead.

The second home run of the day for the Flashes came from junior third baseman Jake Reifsnyder in the top of the third, a two-run shot to tie up the game.

Toledo responded with a big inning in the bottom of the third, hitting a solo home run and a two-run single to take a 6-3 lead.

The Flashes cut into the lead in the top of the fourth off an RBI single from junior second baseman Mack Timbrook, slicing the lead to just 6-4.

Freshman infielder, playing at DH, Jacob Casey, chose the right time to hit his first collegiate home run, blasting a two-run shot to tie up the game at six in the top of the seventh.

Kent State sealed the game in the eighth inning with a pair of home runs, a solo home run from sophomore infielder Michael McNamara, and a two-run homer from senior center fielder Collin Mathews. Casey picked up an RBI double as well to take a 10-6 lead.

The Flashes had yet another double-digit hit game, recording 14 hits. The pitching struggled, giving up 13 hits.

Junior pitcher Richie Dell struggled, giving up all six of the runs on 10 hits and three walks in just 3.2 innings of work.

Kent State controlled the majority of game two until Toledo’s late offensive surge led to the first loss of the series.

Kent State started off game two hot early on with senior right fielder Justin Kirby drawing a walk and then stealing second. He advanced on a ground ball and then scored on a wild pitch to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

The Flashes drew two more walks and Timbrook hit an RBI double to right center to give Kent State an early 2-0 lead.

Casey started off the second with a single and then moved over on a sacrifice bunt. Kirby doubled him home to take a 3-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Mathews hit a solo home run, his second-straight game with a homer, to increase the lead to 4-0.

Redshirt junior pitcher Benjamin Cruikshank was dominant in the game all the way up to the sixth inning. He struck out six batters in the game and only allowed two hits. He only surrendered two runs, which came in the sixth inning, before being taken out.

Toledo couldn’t score all game until a two-run home run in the sixth inning, which removed Cruikshank out of the game. It didn’t stop there as the Rockets picked up an RBI single and a two-RBI single to take a 5-4 lead.

Kent State wasn’t giving up that easy, as junior catcher Justin Miknis launched a two-run blast to right center, giving the Flashes a 6-5 lead.

Later, Timbrook doubled to right and a RBI double from junior left fielder Josh Johnson increased KSU’s lead to 7-5.

Toledo continued to fight, drawing a base on balls and a hit by pitch. Toledo then hit an RBI double, bringing the game within one. An intentional walk loaded the bases where Toledo hit a two-run single to walk it off in a wild finish.

The Flashes yet again finished with double-digit hits, having 12 hits. However, the starting pitching in this game went better until Toledo’s late offensive surge against the bullpen.

Toledo yet again steals a victory in the late innings. 

Kent State fell 5-4 after a walk-off victory from Toledo in the 10th inning in the third game of the series.

Toledo took an early lead, carrying over the offense from the late innings in the previous game, scoring two runs on three hits in the first inning.

From then on it was all freshman pitcher Eric Chalus, until the sixth inning where Toledo hit a solo homer. Chalus finished with seven innings pitched striking out 10 batters and allowing three earned runs and six hits.

Kent State stayed in the fight after getting a walk and a fielding error, allowing Johnson to hit a three-run home run, tying the game at three. Then a pinch hit home run from Casey allowed the Flashes to take the lead.

Toledo led the bottom of the ninth with a walk, followed by a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to second. A groundout allowed the runner to move to third where Toledo would tie the game up due to a wild pitch, sending the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the tenth, with one out, a Toledo double to right center followed by a single to left center allowed the Rockets to pick up back-to-back walk off victories.

Kent State tallied seven hits with three errors on the day.

Kent State suffers another close loss to drop third straight. 

Mathews kicked off the second inning by reaching on a catcher’s interference. He then stole his 10th stolen base of the season to put a runner in scoring position. Mathews then advanced after tagging on a fly out to third. Timbrook then brought him home on an RBI groundout to take an early 1-0 lead.

McNamara then brought home Casey, who reached on a walk, on a two-run home run to bring the lead up to 3-0 in the top of the third inning. Toledo answered in the bottom half of the inning after a single and then doubling home the run.

Toledo then drew a walk, reached on an error and hit an infield single to load the bases. Kent State turned a double play allowing a run to score in the fifth.

Kent State reached on two singles in the top of the sixth inning and a bunt put runners in scoring position. Timbrook then scored a run on a sacrifice fly in foul territory to take a 4-2 lead.

Toledo answered in the bottom half of the inning with a double. The Rockets singled home the run down 4-3. The batter stole second and scored on an RBI single to tie the game at four.

An inning later, Toledo got another run on an RBI single. The batter that scored reached on a single and was advanced over to second on a groundout to take the lead 5-4.

Kent State had seven hits while giving up 11 hits.

This marked another late inning comeback for the Rocket, as Kent State dropped its third straight game.

Kent State will look to climb back up the MAC standings when Miami University (10-13 MAC, 14-21 overall), which is in eighth place, comes to Kent for a four game series.

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