Season-opening success: Baseball takes two of three against Jacksonville University

Jacob Hansen, Sports Editor

In 2022, Kent State’s baseball team had the third-most hits in the Mid-American Conference.

This weekend, the Flashes tallied 37 hits and won two out of their first three season-opening games against Jacksonville University.

Kent State totaled 33 runs over the weekend with three home runs. The team had a batting average of .276 with 12 doubles in the opening series.

KSU is now 2-1 to open the season.

Game one

The Flashes’ season opener ended in a 6-5 loss after they gave up four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Kent State scored its first run of the season early in the top of the second inning after senior second baseman Mack Timbrook reached first base on a fielder’s choice, pushing junior Michael McNamara home.

The game then went silent until the bottom of the fifth when Jacksonville hit a two-run homer to take a 2-1 lead.

KSU answered right back with the team’s first home run of the year in the top of the sixth inning. Junior first baseman Aidan Longwell hit a two-run blast to take a 3-2 lead.

Timbrook tacked on another run for the Flashes with a double to score McNamara, extending the lead 4-2. KSU added another after left fielder Josh Mrozek singled home sophomore right fielder Jake Casey, earning his team a 5-2 lead.

Then in the bottom of the eighth, the Dolphins scored four runs on two hits – sealing their victory.

Game two

Kent State’s first win of the season came in a 16-inning game. The Flashes won 10-6.

KSU took an early 1-0 lead off a double from Longwell, scoring senior left fielder Josh Johnson.

With the bases loaded in the top of the fourth inning, Mrozek drove in two runs, scoring senior catcher Justin Miknis and graduate student center fielder Collin Mathews. Kent State led 3-0.

Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Week junior pitcher Joe Whitman dominated, striking out 11 batters in five innings. He only allowed two hits on no earned runs.

Whitman has the second-most strikeouts in Division-1 on opening weekend.

JU tied the game up 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits.

Kent State responded, taking the lead in the top of the eighth.

Timbrook drove in two on a double and then junior third baseman Kyle Jackson drove in Timbrook to take a 6-3 lead. Jacksonville scored one in the bottom half of the inning of an error, making it a 6-4 game.

The Dolphins then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, scoring two.

The two teams went on to play nine more innings until the Flashes scored four runs on two hits in the top of the 16th inning to take the win.

Game three

The final game of the season was all Flashes – as they scored 18 runs on 16 hits.

Miknis kicked off the game with an RBI-single in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead.

Kent State added another run after Casey scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

Then in the top of the third inning, KSU scored seven runs on five hits to take a 9-0 lead.

Jacksonville attempted to cut into the lead, scoring five runs on five hits in the bottom of the third.

KSU extended the lead, tacking on three in the top of the sixth. Two runs came off of a Miknis’ home run. One inning later, the Flashes added four more runs in the top of the sixth – with two of the runs coming off a home run from Mathews. Kent State led 16-5.

JU added one in the bottom of the eight off a solo homer, but KSU scored two more in the top of the ninth and took the victory.

Miknis led the team in batting with a .467 average and tied for the team-high in hits with 11 over the series. Longwell and Timbrook led the team in RBIs with five. Casey led the team in runs scored with six.

Kent State will take on Wofford for a three-game series this weekend.

Game one of the series is 6 p.m. Friday in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Jacob Hansen is sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]