It wasn't pretty, but for the second day in a row Kent State University managed a doubleheader split with visiting Bowling Green Sunday afternoon to remain in first place in the Mid-American Conference Eastern Division.
The Golden Flashes offense looked like two different teams, managing just four hits in losing the opener 3-0, then returning to win the nightcap 8-7 on the strength of 13 hits and a five-run second inning.
Kent's inability to find offensive punch in game one was due more to the performance of Bowling Green ace Jeff Hundley.
The Falcons' lefty lowered his ERA from an already impressive 0.97 to an even more remarkable 0.84 with a masterful complete game shutout that improved his record to 5-1 on the season.
"Hundley was very good," said Kent State coach Rick Rembielak. "He has good control. He has a very good changeup and he keeps the ball down in the zone. He made quality pitches early in the count and had good sequences of pitches that kept our guys off balance."
Kent State starter Doug Straight wasn't far behind Hundley, striking out six and allowing just six hits in the complete-game loss (3-2).
Straight was a victim of poor defense as all three Bowling Green runs were unearned due to a pair of errors by Kent State (16-16, 10-4 MAC).
The Falcons (17-13, 7-7) scored the only run they would need in the second after an error by Straight on a pickoff attempt at first base allowed Bowling Green's Bob Niemet, who had walked, to advance to second. He then came home on a bloop double by Jay Harrington.
Bowling Green added two insurance runs in the sixth when Kent State centerfielder Sam Crea raced down a deep fly ball to right-center by Harrington, only to have the ball pop out of his glove for a three-base error that allowed Niemet and third basemen Brian Cannon to score for a 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Falcons' defense made the plays it needed to keep the pressure off Hundley, turning key double plays in the sixth and seventh innings to keep Kent State from mounting a rally.
"They made all the plays, and we didn't," said Rembielak. "Bottom line. They made all the big plays they had too."
Kent State's offense also failed to make the big play it needed in the only opportunity the Flashes had to get to Hundley when they managed to get runners to second and third with no outs in the third inning, but failed to score.
Shortstop Chris Holick led off the third with a walk, then advanced to third base on a double to left-center by Crea.
Hundley then uncorked a wild pitch that caromed off the backstop right into the waiting hands of Bowling Green catcher Brad Simon, who threw back to Hundley at home to easily tag out Holick trying to score.
A strike out and a ground out ended the inning with no damage done.
"That really hurt, because we were looking for a big inning there," said Rembielak. "You have to take advantage of opportunities like that, especially against a quality pitcher like Hundley. You have to capitalize on chances like that because we just didn't have that many people in scoring position. That was crucial for them right there to get out of that inning."
The Flashes' offense came back to take advantage of its opportunities in the second game, however.
After falling behind 3-0 in the top of the first, Kent State answered with a run on an RBI single by Brian Smith in the bottom of the first, then took the lead with five runs in the second on RBI singles by Cary Zamilski, Jess Bechard and Ty Carpenter.
Zamilski led Kent State in game two, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Bechard, Carpenter and Alex Marconi each had two hits in the game.
Kent State freshman Dustin Sampson earned the win (3-2), pitching six innings before giving way to Scott Boozer, who picked up his fourth save of the season.
Bowling Green starter Rick Blanc was charged with the loss, dropping him to 3-5 on the year.
The Flashes host Cleveland State today at 3 p.m.