By Allen Moff | Staff writer
Kent State baseball coach Scott Stricklin takes a look back at games played last weekend.
Friday's Result: Louisville 14, Kent State 2
Saturday's Result: Louisville 10, Kent State 3
Sunday's Result: Kent State 3, Louisville 2
Stricklin's Assessment of the Weekend: "It's always disappointing when you lose a series. That being said Louisville is one of the top 10 teams in the country, and we're still trying to find our way this year. We're still not playing particularly well. To come away with a win on Sunday was a positive, and I think can give us some momentum going into next week and the rest of the season."
Starters: Juniors Tyler Skulina (2 innings, 11 earned runs) and Taylor Williams (6 innings, 3 earned runs) each suffered their first loss of the season, but converted reliever Casey Wilson earned his first win on Sunday after a pair of rough outings to start the year.
"Tyler didn't have his best stuff, and Louisville just did a great job of finding ways to get on base. They hit a lot of ground balls that found ways into the outfield, they hit a couple bloops that found green in the outfield. It was one of those things where the ball would come off the bat and you'd think it would be an out, then you see your infielders dive and they can't get it. So a little bit of bad luck, but Tyler didn't have his best stuff either. Louisville's a really good team and they deserve a lot of credit for doing what they did on Tyler. It was unfortunate, but nothing really to worry about. Sometimes you don't get the bounces, and we didn't get the bounces on Friday. We feel really good about Tyler Skulina and Taylor Williams. Those guys we know are really talented, they're gonna be high draft picks. We feel very confident that those guys are gonna be dominant forces not only in our conference, but as we move on.
"Wilson's start was a big confidence boost for him and also for our team. Casey's first two starts were a little shaky; making that transition from the bullpen to the starting role can be tough sometimes. To see him come out and pitch like that was very encouraging. Him being a senior and being a leader on our team, that was a big boost for our team morale."
Bullpen: On Friday (freshman) Nick Jensen-Clagg came in and did a really nice job of just keeping the game where it was. The game was a little bit out of hand when he got in there, but he threw four scoreless innings. Nick's a guy we project as a starter somewhere down the road, maybe even as early as this year. For him to pitch that well against that good of a team was very encouraging. Then on Sunday (sophomores) Brian Clark and Eric Dorsch did their jobs. We went into Sunday with a fresh bullpen. It's really the only advantage you get by getting in early deficits in games one and two, you don't burn your top bullpen guys, so we had some guys waiting. Brian was able to come in and throw 3 1/3 great innings, and Eric Dorsch was able to close the door and get the save in the ninth."
"Even in Friday's loss I thought was swung the bats pretty well. We had 10 hits, but we hit a lot of line drives. We didn't get many breaks offensively. On Saturday their starter shut us down. Jeff Thompson is really good, he's gonna be an All-American this year, and we struggled off him. But on Sunday I thought we swung the bats really well again. I wish we could get some more runs up on the board to show for that. I thought we hit a lot of balls hard, and that's the encouraging thing that our guys are making consistent contact. We're hitting (.266) as a team, and early on against the pitching we've seen that's a pretty good job offensively. We just need to score more runs. We need to do a better job with runners in scoring position and just actually put more runs on the board. (Senior) Evan Campbell swung the bat a little bit better, (junior) T.J. Sutton swung the bat a little bit better. (Sophomore) Tommy Monnot got a big two-RBI double on Sunday. I wouldn't say we have anyone that's really hot, but our guys have been fairly consistent."
"It's still a work in progress. We got a little bit better this weekend, but we're still not where we need to be. In order for us to be the kind of team that we want to be we need to get better defensively. We made some mistakes in Sunday's game when the game was tight down the stretch that almost gave the game away. We just can't have that. Just routine plays that we have to be able to make, and we haven't done a great job of that. I do see some improvement from week to week, and I expect that to get better as we move along."
Key Stats: The Flashes are batting .266 as a team with a .934 team fielding percentage (28 errors) and a team ERA of 7.87 through nine games.
Next: Kent State will play a three-game set at Charlotte (7-2) from Friday through Sunday.