Kent State baseball set to take on arch-rival Akron in crucial MAC series

By ALLEN MOFF | STAFF WRITER Published:

By ALLEN MOFF | STAFF WRITER

If the weather cooperates, Kent State baseball fans will be in for several treats as they watch their team chase its sixth straight Mid-American Conference East Division crown over the next three days.

The Golden Flashes close the regular season with a three-game set against arch-rival Akron beginning with tonight's 8th annual Diamond Classic for Kids charity contest, set for 6:35 p.m. at Canal Park in downtown Akron. All proceeds from the game benefit Akron Children's Hospital.

Last year's charity battle went 17 innings before the Flashes prevailed 5-4. Kent State went on to sweep the series, and now owns six straight victories over the Zips.

The series moves to Schoonover Stadium in Kent on Friday, where the Flashes will celebrate 100 years of baseball. There will be numerous throwback features in a nod to the first KSU baseball team, the Normal Nine, that began play in 1914.

The festivities will begin with the rededication of Rollins Way at 4:50 p.m. Members of the 1964 team that won the Flashes' first MAC Championship will be on hand and honored pregame, and a card set of the All-Time Kent State Team that was selected by public voting will be given away to the first 300 fans in attendance.

A large crowd is expected for Friday's game, which will begin at 6 p.m. Construction issues have made it difficult for fans to walk from the Allerton Parking Lot to Schoonover Stadium, so shuttle busses will run throughout the game transporting fans from the Allerton and South parking lots to the stadium.

On Saturday the Flashes' seniors will be honored before playing their final home game, which is also set for 6 p.m.

Kent State (30-20, 14-10) enters the last series of the regular season trailing Miami (26-25, 15-9) by one game in the East after losing three in a row and five of its last seven overall. Akron (23-26, 11-13) is among several teams battling for the final bids to the eight-team MAC Tournament, which will begin next Wednesday at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon.

"It's a big series for this university," said first-year KSU coach Jeff Duncan. "I look at it as an important series for us to get ready for the MAC Tournament. At this point we want to have a good series against Akron and take that momentum into the tournament."

Freshman Eric Lauer (7-3, 3.04 ERA) will start on the mound for Kent State tonight, followed by sophomore Nick Jensen-Clagg (4-2, 4.78) on Friday. The starter for Saturday's finale has not been announced.

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