Record-Courier staff report
The early season struggles rolled into week No. 3 for the Golden Flashes, when the team was handed a 14-2 road loss at Louisville on Friday.
The Cardinals, who are ranked No. 4 in the nation, improved to 8-1 on the season, while Kent State now sits at 1-8.
"Louisville came out and put a lot of pressure on us early," Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin said. "They were able to put some runs on the board early to put us behind, and they did a great job executing offensively."
Louisville jumped to an early start, plating five runs on six hits, two of which were back-to-back RBI doubles. They had another big inning in the bottom of the third, scoring seven runs. The Cardinals had two triples and a double in that inning. The Flashes gave up 17 hits, five for extra bases, in the game. All 14 of the Cardinals' runs were earned.
Kent State scored its first run in the fourth inning as Zarley Zalewski walked and then came around to score on a single by Sawyer Polen. Polen also picked up the Flashes' only other RBI of the night as he singled again in the eighth. Kent State had 10 hits of its own, but stranded 11 batters in the defeat.
"I thought we swung the bats pretty well," said Stricklin. "We made a lot of loud outs, too. We hit a lot of line drives right at them, and they made the plays. But we're still not executing with runners in scoring position. We had some early chances to put some runs on the board and make the game interesting, and we just couldn't do that. Against a team like Louisville, when you get opportunities you have to take advantage of it."
Tyler Skulina (0-1) had a rough start, lasting just two innings while allowing 11 runs on nine hits and three walks. Nick Jensen-Clagg was impressive in relief, throwing four shutout innings while not allowing a walk and striking out three batters.
"That was really good," Stricklin said of Jensen-Clagg's performance. "That was really encouraging to see him do that as a freshman against a really good team. We're going to need him as we go on this season, and he's a guy that's a potential future starter for us. So it was encouraging to see Nick throw the ball that well."