Kent State baseball to square off with rival Akron for MAC tourney title

Published:

Record-Courier staff report

AVON -- Two rivals will meet for the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship today at noon.

With victories on Saturday, Kent State and Akron will meet for the tourney title just one week removed from a weekend series that ended with the Golden Flashes pounding the Zips 19-0 on Senior Night at Schoonover Stadium in Kent.

Akron defeated Buffalo 5-4 in 12 innings to advance to today's championship game, while Kent State (35-21) cruised past Western Michigan 12-2.

"It's a rivalry and what better than to get to a championship game against Akron," Kent State head coach Jeff Duncan said.

KSU's victory was highlighed by left-hander Eric Lauer's 72⁄3 innings of near flawless pitching.

Working in front of his hometown, Lauer scattered six hits and allowed just one earned runs, while walking four and striking out five.

"He was outstanding. It was good to see, because I think in his last four or five starts, he hit a wall," Duncan said. "But he was outstanding today."

"His fastball command for the most part was really good and that's what got him through," Duncan said.

Western Michigan (24-31) actually took the game's initial lead at 1-0 in the fourth inning, but Kent State quickly went to work to eliminate that advantage.

The Golden Flashes scored three runs in the fifth inning, with Justin Wagler opening up the opportunity by reaching safely on an error. Curtis Olvey then walked before both Wagler and Olvey came home on a triple ripped into deep right field by Zach Beckner.

Beckner then scored on a RBI single by Cody Koch.

The Golden Flashes did the most damage on the Broncos' relief pitchers with a three-run seventh inning, two-run eighth and four-run ninth.

In the seventh inning, the first run came home on an RBI single, which was followed by a two-out, two RBI double by T.J. Sutton.

In the eighth, base hits and walks accounted for the damage. The final four Kent State runs in the ninth came much the same way, on a two-RBI single by Jon Wilson, a RBI single by Koch and a Conner Simonetti pinch-hit single for the 12th run of the game.

Eric Dorsch threw the final 11⁄3 innings out of Kent State's bullpen. He gave up two hits and struck out one.

Wilson and Koch both had three-hit days for the Flashes, while Zarley Zalewski and Olvey both had two.

The championship game will be aired on Time Warner Cable Sports and ESPN3.

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