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Kent State Baseball: 10th Inning with Jeff Duncan (May 16)

By ALLEN MOFF Staff Writer Published: May 17, 2017 4:00 AM
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Kent State baseball coach Jeff Duncan takes a look back at last weekend's Mid-American Conference home series against Miami.

Friday: Kent State 2, Miami 1. Saturday: Kent State 5, Miami 1. Sunday: Miami 2, Kent State 1.

Record: 33-14, 17-4 MAC.

Assessing the weekend: "We're doing a lot of good things. We're pitching it and we're playing really good defense, which is winning baseball, and besides (Sunday) we got timely hits. We didn't swing it great, and we didn't get a whole lot of breaks either. We lined out seven or eight times -- just one of those things. We've just got to get back on it. I'd rather do it now than in the (MAC) Tournament. Last year we were swinging it really good, then we got to the tournament and it was like blank. We'll get it going again. We've just got to relax."

OFFENSE

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Junior Dylan Rosa, Kent State's leader in homers (9) and RBI (38), returned to action on Saturday for the first time since suffering a thumb injury after being hit by a pitch on April 30. He went 1-for-2 both Saturday and Sunday with a double, two RBI and three walks.

"Rosa came back and looked really good, drove a couple of balls and took his walks when he needed to. His bat speed looked good. It's great to have that guy in the lineup."

The Flashes produced just 14 hits in three games.

"The biggest thing for us moving forward, and we've got to make some adjustments as a coaching staff, is when we get into the (opponent's) bullpen we've got to start hammering. In the last month when we've gotten into their bullpen we haven't done a good job offensively. That's the time when you've got to relish."

PITCHING

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Junior lefty Eli Kraus and sophomore right-hander Joey Murray were dominant once again. Kraus (7-2, 2.49 ERA) allowed one run in 6 1/3 innings on Friday, improving to 4-0 with a 1.25 ERA in MAC play, while Murray (6-0, 2.12) struck out 12 and allowed just one run on two hits in six innings Sunday.

"We got three quality starts again. Kraus and Murray were outstanding."

Junior left-hander Jared Skolnicki (3-2, 3.89) started in place of junior Zach Willeman (6-4, 5.09) on Saturday and earned the win, allowing one run on six hits in five innings.

"We rested Willeman, for a lot of reasons. He had some stiffness in his elbow, but everything's OK. When you make the transition from reliever to starter (Willeman was the team's closer last season) it can bring some issues, so we just decided to rest him. Skolnicki didn't throw great, but well enough. It gave us a chance to build him up a little and get some more innings heading into the (MAC) Tournament.

"(Sophomore) Connor Wollersheim (2-1, 3.50) came on in long relief (Saturday) and just shut them down (4 scoreless innings). (Junior Robert) Zeigler (2-0, 2.63) was awesome this weekend (2 2/3 hitless innings). Our bullpen's been good."

DEFENSE

Junior catcher Tim DalPorto was a force defensively on Friday.

"DalPorto threw a guy out at third, threw a guy out at second on a steal to end the game, and picked a guy off first. He's really playing good baseball. (Sophomore third baseman/shortstop Josh) Hollander played well, and (freshman) Zach Schultz looked good at first base. He's going to be a really good player for us."

Polls: Kent State moved up a spot to 16th in the latest Collegiate Baseball Poll, which was released on Monday.

Coming Up: After playing the last home game of the season tonight against Youngstown State, the Flashes will close the regular season with a three-game series at Ohio (25-25, 11-10) Thursday through Saturday. They need one win to secure the MAC regular season championship and the No. 1 seed for the MAC Tournament, which begins next Wednesday in Avon.

"We want to clinch Thursday night. Kraus will throw Thursday, then we're not sure about our starters in the last two games. We're going to see how these guys feel and where we're at, and we'll go from there. This time of the year is what you play for, it's the fun time of the year, and my message is that we need to be loose and enjoy this. If we do that we'll be fine."


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