10th Inning with KSU baseball coach Jeff Duncan: Trip to Tennessee ends with victory -- and ice storm

By Allen Moff | Record-Courier Published:

By Allen Moff | Record-Courier

Kent State baseball coach Jeff Duncan takes a look back at games played last weekend.

Friday: Middle Tennessee State 12, Kent State 4. Saturday: Kent State 5, Middle Tennessee State 4. Sunday: Kent State 6, Middle Tennessee State 5.

Record: 7-3.

Travel Trouble: The team left Tennessee after Sunday's game, but did not arrive home until early Monday evening due to an ice storm they nearly encountered Sunday night in Kentucky.

"We were on our way home from Nashville, drove about 80 miles and had to pull off in Bowling Green (Ky.). It was raining when we pulled off but we were going right into (an ice storm). It would have been about four or five hours of ice and snow. There were accidents reported all over, so we decided to let the storm pass. I'd rather be safe."

Duncan's Assessment of the Weekend: "We bounced back really well from Friday. (Junior lefty) Brian Clark (Stow) didn't give us the best start (51⁄3 innings, 6 earned runs). (Freshman lefty) Eric Laurer threw well on Saturday (5 IP, 1 ER). He's got a chance to be pretty dang good. He didn't have his good stuff but he pitched really well. On Sunday (junior right-hander John) Birkbeck didn't pitch great, too many free bases (4 walks, 1 ER in 31⁄3 innings), but our bullpen came in and did well. It was a tricky game. It was raining and sleeting and we scored early, but we couldn't put a zero up on the mound and defensively. (Freshman right-hander Andy) Ravel came out of the bullpen and was the difference in the game (32⁄3 innings, 1 earned run, 3 strikeouts). Middle Tennessee was a pretty good ball club. They're in the Conference USA. They play well at home -- it's kind of a little homer park, the wind blows out, and they're kind of free-swinging. But other that Friday night I felt we did a real good job with them. We just needed a better start out of Brian Clark on Friday."

PITCHING

Starters: Clark continues to struggle while transitioning from the bullpen to a starting role this year. He's now 1-2 with a 10.54 ERA.

"We're gonna give him another shot this weekend. He's gotta get used to the (starting) role. He's got really good stuff, he just gets into the third, fourth, or fifth innings and gets into trouble. He's had a big inning in each game he's pitched in. That's been the Achilles' heel."

Lauer (1.42 ERA) earned his third win in as many outings on Saturday, including a pair of starts.

"He's a potential Friday (starting pitcher) if he continues to do what he's doing. But we're keeping our fingers crossed hoping that Brian Clark shows up. The third (starter) you've got (sophomore RH) Nick Jensen-Clagg, Birkbeck, Ravel's interesting, (senior lefty) Michael Clark ... I think we will have (the rotation) solidified in two weeks heading into conference play."

Bullpen: Ravel (1-0, 3.68 ERA) earned his first collegiate win on Sunday.

"I think he's got some guts, and he's got good stuff -- 89-92 (mph) with a slider, curveball and a change-up, his change-up is good. He threw really well in relief and kind of stabilized that game on Sunday."

OFFENSE

"We swung it OK. (Sophomore) Zarley Zalewski continued his hot hitting (.467, 12 RBI), (junior Alex) Miklos swung it well (.350), (senior) Jon Wilson (.364) had a nice couple of games, (senior) Cody Koch (.341) continued to swing it well. We were pretty steady offensively, (scored) just enough."

DEFENSE

"We played OK. It probably looked a little bit worse on paper (1 error in each game) -- we just had some kind of weird errors. But when it came down to it and games were tight, we made some really good plays."

Coming Up: The Flashes are scheduled to play four games at Liberty (7-6) this weekend. Clark and Lauer will start two of the games, while the third and fourth starters are undecided.

Email: amoff@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9445

Twitter: @AllenMoff_RC

Facebook: Allen Moff, Record-Courier

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