April 30, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio -
In sharp contrast to the first two games of the weekend series, the Ohio and Kent State baseball squads combined to record 30 hits and 26 runs in Sunday's rubber game, but it was the visiting Golden Flashes that came out on top 15-11 in Bob Wren Stadium to take the Mid-American Conference series.
Tied 8-8 heading to the eighth inning, Kent State (28-14, 13-5 MAC) outscored Ohio (15-21, 8-10 MAC) 7-3 over the course of the game's last two frames to clinch the weekend series victory.
After Ohio took Friday's opener by a final of 5-3 and Kent State bounced back to capture a 4-2 12-inning decision Saturday, the teams combined to nearly double the previous scoring outputs.
Unlike last night's contest where neither team scored in the first six innings, the runs came early and often in Sunday's rubber game. The Golden Flashes got three runs in the first and two more in the second to build a 5-0 lead after just two at-bats. Ohio was able to get all of that back in just one inning, however.
Willie Walker led off the home half of the second with a single to right. After Kirk Payne fouled out, Bryant Witt sent a base hit to left-center and Chris Klimko bunted safely to load the bases. Klimko rolled his ankle on first base on the play, however, and had to be removed from the game. The next Ohio batter, Bradon Besl, then ripped a double down the left field line to score Walker and Witt and Hayden Johnston grounded out by pinch-runner Jason Selhorst was able to come home to make it 5-3. Matt Stiffler then doubled to the left-center gap to plate Besl and Dusty Hammond ripped a single to right that the Kent State fielder misplayed allowing both Stiffler to score and Hammond to move all the way around to third. Anthony Gressick flied out to center, however, and the Bobcats settled for a game-tying five-run rally.
After both teams went scoreless in the third, Ohio was able to capture the lead for the first time in the game in the fourth inning. Besl sent a liner just out of reach of the diving Kent State outfielder just inside the right field line and he moved all the way to third. Johnston then picked up the run one batter later as he drove a sacrifice fly to right for the go-ahead run.
The Bobcats got a two-run cushion in the bottom of the fifth. Walker took Kent State starter John Pacella deep for his third homer of the year in the bottom of the sixth on a 400-foot shot to dead center.
The Flashes were able to recapture the lead in the top of the seventh on Ohio's second reliever of the day, Kurt Smith. Kent State got a lead-off single, a fielder's choice where both runners were safe, and a hit-by pitch to load the bases with no outs. A sacrifice fly plated the first run of the frame and then Jason Patton drove a two-run double to the right-center gap to score two more as the Flashes took an 8-7 lead.
Ohio was able to answer right back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh after it loaded the bases with no outs. Pinch-hitter J.T. Osburn grounded into a double play and Dusty Hammond scored from third and knotted the game at 8-8, but that is all the Bobcats would get in the frame.
The Kent State bats exploded in the top of the eight, however, as it stormed back into the lead. After an Ohio error to lead off the inning, Bobcat reliever Dan Weiss gave up a single and a fielder's choice in which everybody was safe to load the bases - the third time in the game a similar situation happened. Another single scored the go-ahead run and a grand slam by Todd Balduf - his second of the week - propelled KSU to a 13-8 lead.
Ohio got three of the runs back in the home half of the eighth on a two-RBI single by Gressick and a Kent State fielding error which allowed the third score, but the rally would ultimately come up short as the Flashes tacked on two more in the top of the ninth to secure the 15-11 victory.
Weiss (2-1) took the loss for Ohio in relief. The southpaw allowed five runs - four earned - and recorded just one out in six batters faced.
The Bobcats used seven pitchers on the day and none pitched more than the 2 2-3 that Zach Elmer turned in.
"We just didn't pitch well today," Ohio Head Coach Joe Carbone said. "Other than (Zach) Elmer, I didn't think the rest of us pitched well. We were behind on everybody and didn't do a good job of locating the fastball or getting the breaking ball over for a strike."
Besl led four Bobcats with multiple-hit outputs with a 3-for-5 performance and two RBIs.
Dominique Rodgers (1-0) earned the victory in relief for Kent State after allowing four runs - two earned - on four hits in 2 1-3 innings. Pacella finished with 5 1-3 innings of work and allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits.
Balduf, Andrew Davis and Kurt Eichorn each registered three hits for the Flashes.
"We've got to give Kent credit, they played better than we did today," Carbone said. "We fell apart mentally a number of times today. Although we had a lot of hits and scored a lot of runs, we didn't do what we needed to do to win."
Ohio will now travel to Niles, Ohio to face Youngstown State on Tuesday before returning to Bob Wren Stadium for a Wednesday home game against Wilmington. First pitch is set for 6 p.m., in both contests.