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Kent State baseball coach Scott Stricklin takes a look back at games played last weekend.
Friday's Result: San Diego 2, Kent State 1.
Saturday's Results: San Diego 18, Kent State 11; Kent State 9, San Diego 5.
Sunday's Result: San Diego 14, Kent State 2.
Season Record: 1-7.
Stricklin's Assessement of the Weekend: "It was very disappointing. It's two weekends in a row that we haven't played very well defensively, and our bullpen has really struggled on the back end of the game. The positive is that (juniors) Tyler Skulina and Taylor Williams, who are gonna be our No. 1 and No. 2 (starting pitchers), were outstanding. We feel very good about what those guys are gonna be able to do for us all year long. We need to find some answers in the bullpen, guys to step up and do what they're capable of doing. We know we have the ability and talent there, we just need those guys to do their jobs and help us bring some wins home. Bullpen and defense, those are the two areas that we've been really frustrated in."
While Skulina and Williams have pitched well, No. 3 starter Casey Wilson -- who pitched out of KSU's bullpen for the past three years -- has struggled (0-2, 11.57 ERA).
"Casey's a guy who has always been really good one time through the order, but when you have to get people out multiple times, it becomes a challenge. I think that's what he's adjusting to right now. So we'll see as the year goes on (whether he will remain a starter). If he continues to be in that three hole, great. He's a competitor, a guy with a lot of experience. But he's also been really good for us in the bullpen. That's a decision we'll make as we go further on in the year. But one and two are set. Tyler and Taylor, those guys are as good as anybody in the country."
"The only guy on the back end of the bullpen who has been really good is (sophomore) Dan Kopcak (Streetsboro). Dan pitched two innings on Saturday night to help preserve the win and was dominant."
"We need him to continue to do that, but we need the other guys to step up as well. We need Eric Dorsch, we need Brian Clark, we need Josh Pierce, we need all of those guys to step up and do the things that they're capable of doing."
"I think overall we're swinging the bat pretty well, especially considering our preseason All-American George Roberts (senior first baseman) is out (due to an injury). But we haven't executed very well with runners in scoring position. A great example is on Sunday, we opened up the game with bases loaded and nobody out and we didn't score. And we loaded the bases in the second inning and only scored one run. Then we loaded the bases in the third and didn't score. When you leave nine runners on base in the first three innings you're not gonna win too many games.
"Freshmen Justin Wagler (.286, 1 HR) and Zarley Zalewski (.333, 1 HR) have both swung the bat well. We've been very pleased with what they've been able to do, stepping in there as freshmen."
"We have not played well at all. We've made errors at just about every position, and they've been routine plays. That's the frustrating thing about it, we're not fielding routine ground balls cleanly, we're not catching balls when they go in the air. We're just playing bad baseball defensively. When our pitchers are struggling a little bit you've got to have some help defensively behind them, and we haven't done that."
Roberts Injury Update
Roberts was injured while batting for just the third time on the season in the opener. He broke the hamate bone in his left wrist, had surgery last Friday and is expected to miss three-to-four weeks.
"As soon as he swung the bat and kind of winced and shook his hand, my first thought was that he broke his hamate bone. It's a fairly common injury among hitters. That was my fear. The original X-ray came back negative, but the hamate bone is such a small and slight bone that it sometimes doesn't show up in an X-ray. When we got back and did a CT scan we saw the break. That bone is really a useless bone in the wrist, in the bottom of the hand, so they are able just to take that out and you don't need it. We're hoping to have him back when we start the Mid-American Conference season (March 22)."
Stricklin has been forced to alter his lineup without Roberts. Zalewski has been moved from third base to first base to fill in for Roberts, and has been batting third in the lineup.
"If you would have told me when the season started that Zarley would be hitting in the three hole for us, I wouldn't have believed you. It's a credit to him, he's swinging the bat well, but it also gives you an idea what having George out of the lineup does to us. Getting George back is going to be a very positive thing for our team, but in the meantime it's gonna give some other guys opportunities and get those guys at-bats that they need so when we get into May and June they're gonna be ready to compete."
Key Stats: The Flashes have made 23 errors in the first eight games (.927 fielding percentage).
Next: The Flashes will play a three-game series at No. 4 Louisville (6-1) beginning Friday at 4 p.m.