Kent State and Akron played baseball for a cause other than standings and statistics yesterday, raising money for Akron Children’s Hospital.
Playing at Canal Park, home of the Akron Aeros, the Flashes and Zips each were victorious, knowing they raised more than $10,000 for charity. Coach Scott Stricklin said the experience exceeded his own expectations.
“We were close to 2,000 people,” Stricklin said. “When it was all said and done, we’re going to raise over $10,000 for Children’s Hospital. I think it was a great success.”
This was the second annual Diamond Classic for Kids, which is part of a five-year plan. Ultimately, the event hopes to bring 5,000 people through the gates at Canal Park. This year’s total reached more than 2,000.
The first game, played last season, raised just over $1,000 because of expenses. This year, many of the people working the event were volunteers. That combined with significantly more donation money contributed to the significant increase.
All ticket sales went to Children’s Hospital as well.
Such a large crowd in a pro-style environment is unusual for college baseball in the Mid-American Conference. The event gave fans and players the opportunity to participate in a special atmosphere and donate to a good cause.
“It was definitely an entertaining game,” Stricklin said. “Getting to play your rival in front of a big crowd, it was a good experience for both teams. It was an emotional crowd, the crowd was in the game.”
Former Kent State quarterback and current Cleveland Browns player Joshua Cribbs made a guest appearance by throwing out the opening pitch.
The night ended in style as Kent State won it in the bottom of the ninth off the bat of Doug Sanders, 16-15. The two teams will play again May 9-11 in Akron as the official MAC series.
Next, Kent State travels to Bowling Green this weekend for a three-game series.