The brooms had been kept in cold storage at Gene Michael Field long enough in '99.
The Kent State baseball team finally earned the right to break 'em out Sunday afternoon, after a pair of brilliant pitching performances by juniors Matt Guerrier and Doug Straight helped the Golden Flashes defeat arch-rival Akron 2-1 and 6-0 to earn their first home sweep of the season.
"This was our first sweep here? Wow, no wonder we're (just over) .500," said Kent coach Rick Rembielak, shaking his head. "We needed these wins, and our top two pitchers came through with great performances. They threw strikes and set the tempo."
Actually senior Kory Hartman set the tempo when he came within one strike of tossing a perfect game against the Zips in game two on Saturday. Guerrier picked up where he left off by allowing just two hits in six innings in Sunday's opener, and Straight tossed a three-hit shutout to give Kent (25-20, 13-10 Mid-American Conference) its third win in the four-game weekend series against Akron (20-28, 10-14).
"Yeah, I was thinking perfect after what Hartman did," said Guerrier. "But if that can't happen, you just want to do the best you can."
Guerrier wasn't perfect but he was impressive, fanning seven batters while improving to 5-3 on the season.
Meanwhile, the Flashes' offense wasn't impressive, but was good enough. Senior leadoff hitter Cary Zamilski went 3-for-3 with a double and two singles and scored both Kent runs, one on an RBI single by junior Jess Bechard in the third inning and another on a run-scoring ground out by junior Alex Marconi in the fifth.
Akron's Mike Doerbecker hit his school-record 13th home run off Guerrier in the sixth to bring his team within a run, but Flashes' closer Dan Adams retired the side in order in the seventh to earn his school-record 10th save.
Rembielak, who has previously watched his squad split four and lose one MAC doubleheader at home in '99, made sure his team wasn't content following the game-one victory.
"I told them anything less than a win in game two would be unacceptable," said Rembielak. "We're trying to hold on to third place (in the MAC East Division) at least to earn a MAC Tournament berth. We need to open up some room between us and the rest of the field."
They did just that thanks mostly to Straight, who mowed down the Zips with relative ease.
The Flashes' right-hander was in trouble just once: in the second, when a single and walk put Akron runners on first and second with two outs. But Bechard, Kent's second baseman, made a tough over-the-shoulder catch on a flare hit to shallow right-centerfield by Jason Winkler to end the inning.
Straight (5-5) allowed just three singles and one walk while striking out three. He retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced, including the final two by strikeout.
"I really didn't have my best stuff," said Straight. "But sometimes your worst stuff produces the best results."
Kent caught a break when Zips' ace John Wilkinson was forced to leave game two in the first inning with the bases loaded after aggravating a pulled muscle in his rib cage.
Freshman Dan Gutschmidt greeted Akron reliever Craig Antolik with a two-run single, and the Flashes added single runs in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings to pull away.
Zamilski stayed hot, adding two singles, two runs scored and an RBI to his totals, while Bechard drove in two runs with a double and single.