After 32 total hits, 17 total runs and three hours and 11 minutes, the Kent State baseball team was able to win its ninth game of the 2008 season, beating Niagara by a score of 9-8.
Stolen bases were a key to the Flashes’ victory, stealing 11 to nearly quadruple their season total coming in to the game. Kent State had stolen three in the previous 21 games.
“We just decided we were going to play aggressively,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “What we’ve been doing … hasn’t been working necessarily. We had some opportunities and we took advantage of them.”
The Flashes (9-13), who were challenged by Stricklin to do their jobs after being swept by Ball State last weekend, got off to a hot start. In the first inning, the bats were lively as junior designated hitter Greg Rohan hit his sixth homerun of the year, driving in two runs.
| THE GAME
Winning pitcher: Steven Davis (1-0) – 2.0 innings pitched, 2 hits 1 earned run
Losing pitcher: Bill Rafferty (1-1) – 4.1 innings pitched, 9 hits, 3 earned runs
Key Player: DH Greg Rohan – 3-3, 1 HR, 3 RBI
*The Flashes stole 11 total bases on their way to the ninth win of the season.
In the second inning, Kent State took over on the base paths. The Flashes added two more runs by way of a double steal. Junior infielder Brad Winter drove in another run with a stand-up double. The final run of the inning was achieved when Rohan singled up the middle for his third RBI of the day, making the score 6-0 after two innings.
“I thought our intensity level was a little bit better, I thought we played a little bit harder,” Stricklin said. “Overall I’m happy that we won. But we still need to improve and still need to get better.”
The Flashes, looking to protect the six-run lead, had trouble defensively on the mound in the third inning. Freshman starting pitcher Kyle Hallock loaded the bases by hitting two batters and allowing a base hit. Kent State’s momentum began to slip away.
Niagara senior outfielder Frank Kurnik singled to drive in two runs. With runners on first and second, senior infielder Chris Leendertse singled to drive in another. Hallock would be pulled after allowing a fourth run, and the Eagles still were not finished.
“I thought Kyle Hallock had two really good innings, and then he lost it in the third,” Stricklin said. “He’s got great stuff, and we need him to be a go-to guy for us.”
Freshman reliever Cory Martin came in and allowed another two runs by giving up a two-run homerun to the first batter he faced. Freshman outfielder Cam Stykemain drove a ball to right center that, aided by gusting winds, found its way over the fence.
Martin settled down after the homer and pitched solidly until he was relieved by junior Steven Davis in the sixth. Kent State and Niagara would score one run each until the sixth inning when the Flashes took the lead for good.
Junior infielder Brad Winter hit a leadoff homerun to right-center field, where the wind had been blowing nearly all afternoon. This put the Flashes up 8-7. Before the inning was over, sophomore outfielder Conor Egan looped a single over the Niagara first baseman for the insurance run that would eventually win the game.
Meanwhile, Davis pitched a solid two innings, allowing two hits and one earned run. Senior closer Reid Lamport came in in the eighth and denied the Eagles a comeback, earning his second save of the year.
“Cory Martin came out of the (bullpen) and did a pretty good job, Steven Davis did a very good job, and then Reid Lamport came in a threw two great innings for us,” Stricklin said. “It was encouraging to see Reid Lamport come out there and throw as well as he did. He’s been nursing a little bit of a sore shoulder.”
Today the team plays Pittsburgh at 3 p.m. Last year, the Flashes and Panthers played to a final score of 3-0, with Kent State being the victor. Flashes.