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Brian Clark had perhaps his best start of the season Sunday afternoon, propelling the Kent State baseball team to an 8-2 win over Northern Illinois to clinch the weekend series.
Clark went 6.1 innings, allowing just one run on six hits with three walks and seven strikeouts. The former Stow High School star has now matched his career-high of seven strikeouts in his last four outings.
"Brian Clark set the tone," KSU coach Jeff Duncan said. "He had a great outing, one of his best if not the best of the season."
Kent State (30-17, 14-7 Mid-American Conference) earned its 30th win of the year, breaking the game open early on with a five-run second inning.
After two walks and a single, Sawyer Polen was hit by a pitch with bases loaded to score the game's first run. A Curtis Olvey fielder's choice was followed by consecutive singles from Jon Wilson, Jacob Neuschaefer and Cody Koch (2-for-4).
Northern Illinois (15-32, 9-12) got on the board with a run in the sixth, but Kent State responded in the bottom of the inning with two runs of its own on a Polen RBI double and an Olvey sacrifice fly.
John Birkbeck followed Clark out of the bullpen, allowing a run in 1.2 inning. John Fasola then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out a pair.
Kent State remains the Mid-American Conference East Division leader at 14-7, gaining a game on Buffalo over the weekend.
The Flashes are tied with Central Michigan (29-19, 14-7) in second place overall, 2.5 games back of MAC-best Ball State (32-15, 16-4).
Kent State travels to Ball State next weekend for a pivotal three-game conference series.