Baseball sweeps its way to the top of the MAC standings


Yasmeen Matthews

Outfielder Josh Johnson, a then-senior, swings at the ball during a game against Akron on April 15, 2023.

Jacob Shondel, Reporter

Kent State’s baseball outscored Akron in their weekend series, 35-9, en route to a three-game sweep. 

The Flashes, who now sit at the top of the Mid-American Conference at 12-3, have an overall record of 25-10. 

Kent State extended its winning streak to seven games and has a 14-1 record at Olga Mural Field in Schoonover Stadium.

“This was a great weekend for us,” coach Jeff Duncan said. “We’re able to build momentum Friday and carry that through the weekend. I’m proud of the way we played. I thought we played fundamentally sound baseball.”

The Zips fall to 13-22 on the season and are 6-12 in the conference – tied for last with Eastern Michigan. 

KSU’s .303 team batting average and 3.79 ERA are the best in the MAC.

Junior first baseman Aiden Longwell leads the conference with a .426 batting average; redshirt senior pitcher Ben Cruikshank has a conference-best 2.96 ERA. 

“A big thing this offseason was just gaining some confidence after a pretty good start to last year, but kind of slowed down towards the end,” Longwell said. “So, I think it was just about getting stronger, staying healthy and putting some good swings on balls.”


In front of a sold-out crowd at Schoonover Stadium, the Flashes scored 16 unanswered runs, defeating TSDTR 23-3.

KSU recorded 18 hits, six going for extra bases – six players recorded a multi-hit game, while seven Flashes had two or more RBIs. 

Kent State pulled away with its seven-run third inning, as Longwell had a bases-clearing single, driving in three of his four runs.

Longwell led the team, going 3-for-3, and this is the sixth time he has totaled three or more RBIs in a game. 

Cruikshank (5-0) went a season-long seven innings, recording six strikeouts and allowing one run to score. 

Freshman pitcher Ciaran Caughey logged the final two innings for KSU, striking out a season-high four batters.


After battling weather delays for nearly three hours, the Flashes used three pitchers shutting out the Zips 3-0. 

Junior pitcher Joe Whitman (5-1) started his ninth game, going five innings, giving up four hits and striking out six batters.

Pitcher Joe Whitman in the game against the University of Akron on April 15, 2023. (Yasmeen Mathews)

During Friday’s contest, nine Flashes were hit by a pitch, and the first run of Saturday’s matchup came on a bases-loaded hit by pitch. 

In the sixth inning, senior infielder Mack Timbrook drove in the game’s second run on a double to right field. The score was now 2-0. 

The game’s final run came from Longwell off a sacrifice fly, driving in junior infielder Kyle Jackson. 

Senior pitcher Jack Kartsonas threw two innings, not allowing a Zip to reach base while striking out two batters. 

Graduate Student pitcher Mitchell Scott earned his seventh save of the season and recorded the final six outs of the game, striking out four batters. 

Scott is in his first year with the Flashes after spending the previous four years in the PAC-12 with California. 

“It’s been a pretty easy transition. There are a lot of welcoming guys in the clubhouse here,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys you can trust out there, and it’s a really good locker room … we’re setting ourselves up for success.”


The Zips recorded their first lead of the series after a run scored on a groundout to take a 1-0 lead. 

In the bottom of the first inning, Longwell tied the game 1-1 with his first of two RBIs on the day. 

An inning later, Jackson singled to left field, driving in two runs. The score was now 3-1. 

 A pair of singles by the Zips offense lead to a four-run third inning, retaking the lead 5-3. 

In the fifth inning, Longwell led the inning off with a triple; the next batter, junior infielder Michael McNamara drove a ball to left-center, clearing the wall to tie the game 5-5.

Kent State Golden Flash Michael McNamara celebrating the end of an inning in the second game against Akron on April 15, 2023. (Yasmeen Mathews)

This was his fifth home run of the season. 

Two innings later, Akron hit their only homer of the series, making the score 6-5. 

The lead, however, did not last long as Longwell stepped to the plate and launched a ball over the right field wall for his seventh home run of the year, tying the game 6-6. 

“I was just sitting fastball after getting ahead in the count (1-0),” Longwell said. “Was able to see that it was a fastball, and I just tried to put a pretty good swing on it.”

After two consecutive outs to start the bottom of the eight, the next two batters reached base as graduate student outfielder Collin Mathews stepped up to the plate. 

With two strikes in the at-bat, Mathews connected on a single to left field, driving in two runs and giving his team an 8-6 lead. 

The next batter, senior catcher Justin Miknis, extended the KSU lead with an RBI single. The score was now 9-6. 

Scott entered the game in the ninth inning, retiring the first three batters as he recorded his eighth save of the season. 

“Mitchell has certainly made a huge impact in our program by shutting games down,” Duncan said. “That was something we needed to do this year after being unable to do it last season.” 

He is currently on a scoreless streak of 19 innings and has only given up two runs this season. 

“It’s just a comforting feeling knowing that we got a lot of really good guys out there, and we’re going to play good defense,” Scott said. “Everybody on the bench is behind me, and that just speaks to our locker room culture.”

Junior pitcher Benny Roebuck earned his fourth win in relief after recording the final out of the eighth inning. 

Four Flashes totaled two or more hits; Longwell led all players going 4-for-5.

He brought his MAC-leading RBI total to 52. 

Duncan complemented the work ethic for Longwell’s success this season. 

“He is a guy that is very routine-based. He’s the first guy at the field and ultra-consistent,” he said. “He has just been putting in work since the off-season, and it’s paying off for him.”

Up Next

Kent State will remain home on Wednesday, taking on Tiffin (11-25). 

The Dragons have lost 15 of their last 17 games. 

First pitch is at 3 p.m.

“I just want to see us continue playing consistent baseball over the final 19 games,” Duncan said. “We’ve had success up to this point, so just being able to continue what we’ve created.”

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