Kent State baseball team gets first victory, can't sustain momentum

By ALLEN MOFF | Staff writer Published:

Kent State's baseball team picked up its elusive first win of the season late Saturday night, defeating host San Diego 9-5 in game two of a doubleheader, but couldn't sustain the momentum in Sunday's series finale while suffering a 14-2 loss.

"It's very disappointing how we competed today," said Golden Flashes coach Scott Stricklin. "For us to lose a game 14-2 is unacceptable. Our coaching staff doesn't feel very good about where we are right now. We've got to get better as a team, and it needs to start now."

The Flashes (1-7) had the bases loaded in the first three innings, but were only able to muster run one in that span, stranding nine. Evan Campbell had a RBI singles in the second and fourth innings to plate Kent State's only runs.

"If you leave nine runners on base in the first three innings, you're not going to beat anybody," said Stricklin.

San Diego (3-4) posted eight runs in the second inning on seven hits, a wild pitch, a walk and a hit batter, then added three more in the sixth to seal the victory.

Kent State struggled at the plate and on the mound in the game. The Flashes left 11 runners on base and only one player had a multi-hit game, while three of their five pitchers struggled.

Campbell went 3-for-5 with two RBI and Derek Toadvine had the only extra-base hit for the Flashes, a triple.

Michael Clark took the loss as the starter, lasting 1.2 innings while allowing seven runs, five hits, and two walks. Relievers John Birkbeck (3 earned runs allowed, only 2 batters retired) and Nick Jensen-Clagg (2.2 innings, 3 earned runs) also struggled before Eli Martin (1 unearned run in 2 innings) and Eric Dorsch (1 scoreless inning) were able to calm the Toreros hitters.

"Our bullpen has been very poor, and it's been extremely disappointing," said Stricklin. "That's probably the most disappointed group of players we have right now is our bullpen. Guys have not stepped up, they've not pitched to their capability."

Kent State overcame three errors to earn its first win of the year on Saturday.

The Flashes got on the board early with two runs in the first. Toadvine reached on a wild pitch and stole second. After Zarley Zalewski and T.J. Sutton walked, Jason Bagoly singled home a pair of runs.

Justin Wagler then hit a solo homer to start the second inning to make it 3-0.

The Flashes plated three runs later in the fifth. Zalewski led off with a home run of his own and Bagoly came up later to pick up another RBI with a ground out. The Flashes' third run of the inning came when Sutton scored on an error.

San Diego scored three of its own in the sixth inning, but Kent State answered back with two more in the seventh to secure the win.

Five Flashes had two hits led by Zalewski (2-for-4, 3 RBI, 2 runs) and Bagoly (2-for-5, 3 RBI).

Reigning MAC East Pitcher of the Week Taylor Williams (1-0) looked solid again in his second start at Kent State. He picked up the win after throwing seven innings, allowing three earned runs (5 total) on eight hits. He struck out eight batters while not allowing a walk.

Dan Kopcak (Streetsboro) finished the game on the mound, throwing two innings of shutout, one-hit baseball. He walked two and struck out one.

The early-season schedule remains tough for the Flashes, as they head to a nationally ranked Louisville for three games beginning Friday.

ROBERTS UNDERGOES SURGERY

Senior first baseman George Roberts, a preseason All-American and reigning MAC Player of the Year, suffered a wrist injury in the first game of the season. He underwent successful surgery on Friday, but his return date is not yet known.

FLASHES ANNOUNCE NEW TICKET POLICY

A ticket policy will now be in place for Kent State baseball. Single-game tickets can be purchased on the day of the game for $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Students, faculty and staff of Kent State University receive free admission when showing their Kent State ID. Youth in uniform or in a Kent State baseball camp t-shirts get into home games free of charge.

A season ticket option is also available. Adults may purchase a season pass for $72, and students/seniors for $36 (a $1 per game discount).

Schoonover Stadium will also have an updated look this year as lights are in the process of being installed, allowing for the first night games to be played on Olga A. Mural Field. Future renovations in the works include indoor and outdoor hitting facilities and an improved parking area.

The Flashes' first home game in 2013 is scheduled for March 20 against Pittsburgh. The first home conference weekend is March 29-31 against Ball State.

For more information on season tickets, contact Steve Thompson at 330-672-8545 or sthomp8@kent.edu.

SOFTBALL

Kent State concluded its weekend at the Cardinal Classic with a 3-2 loss to No. 18 Louisville Sunday at Ulmer Stadium.

The Flashes' bats came to life on Sunday, matching their season-high with nine base hits. They struggled to produce runs, however, leaving seven runners on base.

After falling behind 2-0, the Golden Flashes rallied to tie the game with a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning. The Cardinals got a clutch two-out hit in the bottom of the sixth for the go-ahead run and retired the side in the top of the seventh for their seventh consecutive victory.

"I am proud of the way we battled back, being down two runs and tying it in the fifth with two outs," KSU head coach Karen Linder said. "We played very well in all phases of the game. Again, we were just missing a clutch hit that would have allowed us to go ahead."

Freshman Lauren Kesterson got the rally started by drawing a walk to lead off the fifth. Sophomore Kim Kirkpatrick then bunted her way aboard for her second hit of the day. Two batters later, junior Abbey Ledford reached on a fielder's choice to put runners on the corners.

The Flashes got a rare two-out hit from freshman Shelbi Tilton, whose single through the left side of the infield allowed Kesterson to score. A wild pitch allowed both runners to move into scoring position and prompted a pitching change for the Cardinals. Ledford, who advanced to third on Tilton's hit, scampered home on yet another wild pitch to tie the game.

Kent State's pitching staff kept Louisville's potent lineup off balance throughout the game, as junior Lauren McNeil and sophomore Emma Johnson limited the Cardinals to a season-low four hits.

McNeil started the game for the Flashes and allowed one hit and two runs in 1.2 innings of work. Johnson (1-4) pitched the final 4.1 innings, giving up one run while striking out a pair.

"Things are starting to come together," Linder said. "I look forward to playing next weekend to build on the growth that took place today."

Kent State travels to Tampa, Fla. next weekend for five games at the South Florida Under Armour Invitational.

WOMEN'S GOLF

Kent State moved up one spot on the final day to finish 11th at the Central District Invitational, held in Parrish, Fla. The Flashes passed Georgetown over the final 18 holes after shooting their lowest combined score of the tournament with a 301 to finish with a 54-hole score of 932.

SMU overtook Vanderbilt with a final-round 293 to capture the team title by two strokes.

Leading the Flashes was rookie Josee Doyon, who shot a final-round 72, and also tallied the lowest card with a 14-over 230 to tie for 31st place. Sophomore Jennifer Ha and junior Erin Hawe each shot final-round 75s.

Kent State will be back in action March 15-17 at the Gator Invitational in Gainesville, Fla.

FIELD HOCKEY

Coach Kathleen Wiler and staff recently welcomed six student-athletes into the Kent State field hockey family for the upcoming 2013 season.

Joining the Golden Flashes will be Giuliana Antignani (Garnet Valley, Pa.), Alison Harmatz (Yorktown, Va.), Krysti Lober (Wilmington, Del.), Andrea Rinehart (Yorktown, Va.), Julia Schoonover (Media, Pa.) and Madison Thompson (Ontario, Canada).

"We are excited to welcome these six student-athletes to our program," Wiler said. "They are a passionate group of young women who bring athleticism, speed and tenacity to our Golden Flash family."

Antignani was named to the All-Southeast Pennsylvania First Team, Central League First Team and All-Delco Second Team after her senior year on defense.

Harmatz was a two-time state champion at Tabb High School. The forward holds the school scoring record with 37 goals and 19 assists in her three-year varsity career. Harmatz made First Team All-State, First Team All-Region and First Team All-District her senior year.

Lober was a four-year letterwinner at Concord High School, finishing her career with 23 goals and 22 assists. After her senior season as a team captain, she was named First Team All-State, National Field Hockey Coaches Association First Team All-Mid-Atlantic and Third Team All-American.

At goalkeeper, Rinehart totaled 193 saves and 33 shutouts in three seasons at Grafton High School. She was awarded First Team All-District, First Team All-Region and First Team All-State honors after her senior year.

Schoonover, a forward/midfielder, was named MVP of her team after her sophomore season. She also played three seasons for the W.C Eagles Field Hockey Club that was rankled No. 1 in the country by the United States Field Hockey Association.

The lone international signee of 2013, Thompson was part of a Resurrection Catholic Secondary School team that won multiple Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association field hockey tournament championships. She has also represented Ontario at the Canadian field hockey championship and was named a tournament All-Star.

Kent State won a share of the MAC regular-season title, yet fell short in the MAC Tournament final a year ago.

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