Record-Courier staff report
Kent State salvaged a split in the first-ever day-night doubleheader in Schoonover Stadium history on Friday when Jon Wilson singled home the winning run in the ninth inning of the nightcap, giving the Golden Flashes a 5-4 victory over rival Akron.
Earlier in the day a late rally by Kent State (31-21, 15-11 Mid-American Conference) fell short, as Akron (25-27, 12-14) closed out an 8-7 triumph by turning a double play in the ninth with the potential tying and winning runs on base.
"These guys have been going through a lot, but we create our own luck," KSU first-year coach Jeff Duncan said. "We didn't play great baseball today, but overall I'm happy, especially with some of the guys that have really stepped up."
Game one appeared to be a pitcher's duel from the onset until Akron opened a three-run lead in the third, thanks in part to two unearned runs. Kent State tallied its first run in the bottom of the same inning on an RBI triple by Wilson.
The Zips got the run back on a solo home run in the fourth before the Flashes had another response with a three-run inning to tie the game. T.J. Sutton had an RBI double, then freshman Curtis Olvey made it 4-4 with his first home run of his career.
Akron responded immediately with a three-run fifth, and added an unearned run in the seventh to take an 8-4 lead. Kent State countered with two in the seventh, and came within a run in the ninth on a Justin Wagler RBI single before the rally fizzled.
Freshman Eric Lauer (7-4) took the loss, allowing five earned runs on six hits in 4.1 innings with two walks and three strikeouts.
Kent State's bottom three hitters in the lineup -- Olvey, Zach Beckner and Troy Summers -- had two hits each along with Wilson.
Game two was also a wild one.
Cody Koch ripped a three-run homer in the third to give Kent State a 3-0 lead, but Akron answered with three runs in the fourth. Zarley Zalewski's RBI single in the fifth gave the Flashes a 4-3 edge, which stood up until the Zips tied the contest with an unearned run in the ninth that set up Wilson's heroics. He singled after the bases were loaded on a walk and two hits batsmen.
Kent State starter Nick Jensen-Clagg allowed three runs on eight hits in six innings, walking none while striking out five. Freshman Andy Ravel allowed one unearned run in 2.2 innings of relief, then struggling closer Eric Dorsch (2-4) retired the final Akron batter in the ninth and wound up getting the win.
"I'm really happy for Eric Dorsch," Duncan said. "He's had a really tough time here these last few weeks, and he really got a big out for us when we needed it."
Zalewski was the only Kent State hitter to come up with two hits in game two, a double and single.
The Flashes' seven seniors will be honored on the field before tonight's regular season finale at 6 p.m.