Kent State Captures 11th MAC Regular Season Title

Updated 5/12/2012
Saturday's MAC Baseball Results
Kent State 7, Miami 6
Central Michigan 15, Ball State 4
Eastern Michigan 11, Buffalo 7
Western Michigan 5, Northern Illinois 4
Ohio 9, Akron 8
Toledo 16, Bowling Green 8

Stories courtesy of Home MAC Sports Information Departments

Kent State 7, Miami 6
KENT, Ohio – On a day in which the Kent State baseball program honored the 20-year anniversary of its 1992 Mid-American Conference championship squad – dubbed as 'The Team That Started It All' – it seemed only fitting that, just over three hours later, another chapter in the growing legacy of the Blue & Gold on the diamond was written.
 
Senior catcher and 2012 Lowe's Senior CLASS Award finalist David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) crushed the go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to cap a four-run frame – his second round tripper of the day, sixth of the season and 20th of his career – and the bullpen held on to help the Golden Flashes complete a come-from-behind 7-6 triumph over East Division rival Miami and earn Kent State's second straight outright conference regular season title and 11th regular season championship in program history Saturday (May 12) at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
 
Kent State's most recent title was completed in wire-to-wire fashion, as the squad grabbed control of the conference from the opening weekend of MAC play in March and did not relinquish their grip all the way through May. With the victory over the RedHawks (26-25, 10-13 MAC), the Golden Flashes (32-17, 20-3 MAC) have won 24 of their last 31 games – including 13 of their last 15 and eight in a row – and have now won seven of their eight MAC series in 2012. Winning the MAC regular season title – the fourth such championship under eighth-year head coach Scott Stricklin - also clinched the number one seed in the 2012 MAC Tournament, which will be held May 23-26 at All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, Ohio, for Kent State. The Golden Flashes have won at least 20 conference games for the second straight season and seventh time in program history.
 
"Both teams played well," said Stricklin. "It was a battle of the bullpen, and we were able to outlast them. We got a lot of clutch hits. The upperclassmen had great at-bats. It was a good team win. It was fun to see the 1992 team with their families and enjoy the day and win the championship in front of those guys. It's pretty special."
 
Miami forced Kent State to fight for every run and every out in a contest that goes down as an instant classic.
 
The RedHawks took a 5-3 edge into the home half of the sixth inning after breaking a three-all tie in the top of the frame with two runs. Junior catcher Nate Bowles laid down a bunt, forcing Kent State junior right-handed starting pitcher Ryan Bores (Strongsville, Ohio) to rush his attempt at throwing Bowles out at first. The toss missed its mark, allowing Bowles to reach on the error to leadoff the inning. After Miami senior center fielder Ryan Curl successfully moved Bowles up 90 feet to second base with a sacrifice bunt, Kent State called upon redshirt sophomore southpaw reliever Michael Clark (Akron, Ohio) out of its bullpen to replace Bores. Clark struck out Miami senior second baseman Ryan Brenner, but freshman left fielder Matt Honchel broke the tie with a double to left center to plate Bowles. Junior first baseman Kevin Bower gave the RedHawks a two-run edge with a single to left to bring around Honchel.
 
The Golden Flashes did not blink, though, and fired back with a four-run home half that put themselves back in the driver's seat and provided the winning margin with the help of some two-out lightning. Sophomore second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) got the rally going with a two-out base hit to center, setting the table for a junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) to tie the game up at five-all with one swing of his bat, sending a two-run shot over the right field wall for his sixth round tripper of the season and ninth of his career. Campbell's homer chased Miami junior right-handed starting pitcher Mac Thoreson from the game as the RedHawks turned to junior righty Brooks Fiala out of the bullpen. Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) – the MAC' all-time hits leader, followed with a bloop single to right, setting the stage for Lyon's tie-breaking blast over the right field wall.
 
Clark retired the RedHawks in order in the top of the seventh, but issued a leadoff walk to Bowles in the eighth and was lifted in favor of redshirt freshman righty Josh Pierce (Avon, Ohio), who got Curl to ground into a key 6-4-3 double play. The twin killing proved crucial, as Brenner followed by drawing a walk and Honchel legged out an infield single to put two on for the RedHawks with two outs. Freshman lefty Brian Clark (Munroe Falls, Ohio) was summoned from the Kent State 'pen to get the final out of the eighth, and he did just that, making Bower roll one to Rider, who stepped on second base to force Honchel out and get the Flashes out of the inning.
 
Miami kept the pressure on in the top of the ninth. Sophomore designated hitter John Crummy led off with a double to right center. After Crummy was lifted in favor of freshman pinch runner Ryan Elbe, sophomore third baseman Dan Walsh moved Elbe to third one out later by legging out an infield single. Clark struck out freshman shortstop Scott Slappey to put Kent State one out away from the championship, but Bowles prolonged the contest and allowed Elble to scored when he reached on a throwing error by Kent State freshman third baseman Sawyer Polen (Wooster, Ohio). The Flashes dipped into their bullpen one last time, calling up junior righty Casey Wilson (Sagamore Hills, Ohio) to close out the victory. Wilson answered the call, getting Curl to roll one to Toadvine, who flipped to Rider to force Bowles out at second and seal the win and the championship.
 
The RedHawks put a halt to a 19-inning scoreless streak against Kent State by landing the first punch of the game with two runs in the top of the first inning. Honchel hit a one-out base hit through the right side and scored when Bower doubled him home. Bower advanced to third on a single back up the middle by Crummy. Bower scored on an RBI fielder's choice that put Walsh on.
 
Kent State responded by placing single tallies on the board in both the first and second innings.
 
Rider hit a one-out single up the middle in the bottom of the first, moved to second on an infield single by Lyon and scored on a base hit through the left side by junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.).
 
The Flashes knotted things up in the second when Polen coaxed a one-out walk, moved up to second on a single to center by Toadvine and to third when Campbell was hit by a pitch and scored on an RBI ground out by Rider.
 
Miami grabbed the lead back in the top of the fourth as Curl legged out an infield hit and scored two outs later on a double to left center by Bower, but the Flashes knotted it up at three-all in the fifth when Lyon led off with a bomb over the right field wall.
 
Lyon led Kent State's offense with his two homers and a single – marking the second time in his career he finished a contest with two round trippers. He also achieved the feat on April 4, 2010, against Western Michigan in a 14-4 Kent State win. Campbell posted his team-leading 24th multi-hit game while Roberts and Toadvine also finished with two hits apiece.
 
Honchel led all hitters with a four-hit day. Bower tallied three hits and three RBIs, and Crummy and Walsh each posted two hits apiece.
 
Michael Clark earned the pitching win for Kent State, tossing 1.2 relief innings to improve to 2-4 on the season. Fiala was tagged with the pitching defeat for Miami, dropping to 2-7 in 2012.
 
Kent State shoots for its third straight MAC series sweep and sixth of the season when it hosts Miami Sunday (May 13). Sophomore righty Tyler Skulina (Strongsville, Ohio) gets the start on the bump and is scheduled to oppose Miami sophomore right hander Charles Zubrod . First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.

Central Michigan 15, Ball State 4
MOUNT PLEASANT - Four different players recorded at least three hits for Central Michigan Saturday afternoon at Theunissen Stadium, as it clinched its series versus Ball State with a 15-4 victory. 

The Chippewas (27-25, 14-9 MAC) finished a season-high 20 hits at the plate en route to winning their ninth-straight game and seventh straight in conference play. 

While the offense was knocking around the Cardinals' (11-35, 6-17 MAC) pitching staff, junior Pat Kaminska was stifling the opponent from the mound, pitching six-straight scoreless innings after giving up a run in the first to improve to 5-2 on the season. 

After Ball State took a quick lead in the top of the first, 1-0, on a single by Wes Winkle and RBI double by Billy Wellman, the Chippewas came right back in the bottom of the frame.

Senior Tyler Hall and junior Jordan Dean led off the inning with back-to-back singles through the left side before senior Nate Theunissen ripped a two-out RBI single through the right side to tie the game, 1-1. Junior Jordan Adams then doubled to right field, scoring Dean, to give CMU the lead, 2-1. 

Redshirt freshman Tyler Huntey lined a two-RBI double to the gap in right center in the bottom of the third to extend the CMU lead to three, 4-1, before a RBI single in the fifth by senior Eric Wrozek made the lead 5-1. 

A perfectly executed suicide squeeze bunt by William Arnold plated Hall in the bottom of the sixth and Huntey hit his second home run of the season in the seventh to extend the Maroon and Gold's lead to 7-1. 

Ball State was finally able to string hits together in the top of the eighth to chase Kaminska from the game, scoring three runs on four hits and a CMU error to pull within three, 7-4. 

Redshirt freshman Dylan Rheault came on in relief of Kaminska and walked the only batter he faced before senior Ryan Longstreth came on and walked another batter to load the bases. The senior was able to induce a fly out to right field to leave the bases loaded however, preserving the Chippewas' lead. 

CMU's offense went right back to work in the bottom of the eighth, sending 13 batters to the plate to score eight runs and push the lead to 15-4. 

Theunissen recorded his fourth hit of the game in the inning - a two-RBI single - while Hall capped the scoring with a three-run bomb to right center. 

Hall, Dean and Huntey each finished with three hits in the game, with Huntey tied his career high with four RBI. Theunissen went 4-for-5 in the contest with three RBI to pull within six hits of Jim Geldhof's CMU record of 252. 

Kaminska gave up four runs - two earned - on seven hits and two walks over 7.2 innings, fanning three in the process. 

The Chippewas will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 with junior Dietrich Enns on the mound. 

Eastern Michigan 11, Buffalo 7
BUFFALO, NY - With both teams combining for eight runs over the final two innings of the game Saturday, the Eastern Michigan Eagles (23-25, 13-10 MAC) were able to hold off multiple comeback attempts by the Bulls (15-31, 8-14 MAC) and earned an 11-7 win.
 
The Eagles started out with two runs in the first inning, and the Bulls responded in the home half with a solo home run from Matt Pollock. Another UB run would come in the third inning on another solo homer from Jason Kanzler, who continued to harrass the EMU pitching staff with three more hits today after hitting a program-record six on Friday.
 
In the sixth inning, the Eagles expanded its lead to 6-2 before an RBI double by Jon Mestas scored Alex Baldock and a sacrifice fly from Matt Pollock brought in River McWilliams and made it 6-4. That would be the closest the team would get from that point on, as Eastern matched the Bulls run for run.
 
A pair of walks drawn by McWilliams and Mike Burke in the eighth inning coupled by a wild pitch helped to set up a two-run single by Mestas to make the score 8-6, and after three more runs from EMU in the ninth, Dan Scahill hit a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the ninth but Buffalo could get no closer.
 
The Bulls hit into a pair of double plays in the game, snuffing out promising rallies in the third and ninth innings, with the latter ending the game.
 
Jeff Thompson took the loss after throwing four innings as the starter. Anthony Magovney threw four innings in relief and Kevin Crumb pitched the ninth.
 
With Akron and Miami (OH) both losing as well on Saturday, Buffalo is still in the thick of it and remains in ninth place and in need of a series-clinching win tomorrow in the rubber match of the conference series. First pitch at Amherst Audubon Field is slated for 1 pm.

Western Michigan 5, Northern Illinois 4
KALAMAZOO, Mich.- Western Michigan won its fifth-straight Mid-American Conference game, defeating Northern Illinois, 5-4, in a down-to-the-wire thriller Saturday.

The game ended on a bang-bang play at the plate, with Western Michigan senior Jack Scanlon gunning down what would have been the game-tying run from right field. 

His team trailing, 5-3, with two outs and the bases loaded in the final at bat, NIU's Alex Jones roped a single Scanlon's way. Tom Barry scored easily from third and coming off second, Connor Schomig got the green light to head home in an attempt to tie the game. 

Scanlon fielded the ball off the bounce and fired to the plate to WMU freshman catcher Jared Kujawa who turned and applied the tag in time. 

The win improved Western Michigan to 22-25 on the year and 12-10 in the MAC, matching its conference win total from last year.

Scanlon also came up with a big throw in the fourth, holding a runner at third on a potential sac fly, and batted 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Sophomore left-hander Steve Laudicina (6-4) was masterful on the mound, limiting the Huskies to just two hits over seven innings and striking out a career-high eight batters. 

NIU's Troy White singled to lead off the second and went on to score unearned after a pair of passed balls. The Huskies did not touch Laudicina again until the seventh, when Schomig singled to left field.

The Broncos scored two quick runs in the first inning and never trailed in the game. Vinnie Booker and Zach Thoma drew back-to-back walks and Ryan McMillin drove in one with a single deep in the hole at short. Duncan plated the second run with a sacrifice fly to center field.

Western Michigan extended its lead to 3-1 in the fifth. Troy Forton singled to the shortstop and moved to second on a sac bunt by Dan Shutes. Booker also laid down a sac bunt and the throw over got past the first baseman, enabling Forton to come across.

The Broncos scored two critical runs in the bottom of the eighth and took a 5-1 lead into the top of the ninth. Thoma and Scanlon hit singles to lead off the inning and with two outs, Thoma scored on wild pitch and Kujawa delivered an RBI single.

RHP Monty Porter orked the eighth on the mound for WMU and faced three batters in the ninth before giving away to Patrick Borlik with one out. Borlik registered his sixth save of the season.

Starting left-hander Jake Hermsen (3-7) suffered the loss for Northern Illinois (14-36, 7-16 MAC), allowing five runs and eight hits over 7.1 innings.

The Broncos will go for their fourth MAC series sweep tomorrow with game three at 1 p.m. WMU will honor its five seniors, Forton, McMillin, Scanlon, Thoma, and Casey Webber prior to the game.

Ohio 9, Akron 8
AKRON, Ohio – A comeback effort by the Akron baseball team fell one run short for the second straight game on Saturday, as Ohio won a 9-8 thriller at Lee R. Jackson Baseball Field.
 
Akron (17-34, 10-13 Mid-American Conference) scored six runs in the eighth and ninth innings to cut a seven-run deficit down to one and had the tying run on third with one out in the ninth. Bryan White would try to score on a wild pitch by Ohio closer Brett Barber, but catcher Cody Gaertner recovered to make the flip to Barber in time to tag White. Jared Turocy then smashed a one-hopper off the glove of Barber who retrieved the ball and made an underhand flip to first to end the game.
 
Freshman Pat Dyer gave a strong relief effort on the hill for Akron, allowing just one unearned run in five innings. Senior starter Scott Foster (3-5) took the loss after giving up six earned runs in four innings. Sophomore Darius Washington tallied a pair of hits and drove in two for Akron. Senior Dan Burant also had a pair of hits and scored twice.
 
Jason Moulton (5-3) pitched 5.1 innings and allowed two runs to grab the win for Ohio (25-25, 14-9). Gaertner drove in three to lead the Bobcats at the plate.
 
The Bobcats benefited from two Akron errors in the top of the first, building a 3-0 lead. Matt Rembielak and Sam Watkins both booted groundballs in the inning, while Jensen Painter and Gaertner both drove in runs for OU. Jake Madsen's infield single in the top of the second brought in OU's fourth run of the game.
 
Washington put Akron on the board when he tripled to the right field corner to bring in Samuel Trecaso, who had walked, in the bottom of the second. Washington then scored on Brandon Winter's groundout.
 
Ohio extended its lead with a two-run homer by Ian Mezlak in the third and a two-run double by Gaertner in the fourth.
 
UA had its first two aboard in both the fifth and sixth, but failed to score. Rembielak lined into a double play to stifle a possible rally in the fifth and a pair of well-hit lineouts kept the Zips off the board in the sixth.
 
Madsen scored the ninth OU run in the eighth by sprinting home while Painter was held up in a run-down between second and third.
 
Akron then started to mount its charge by scoring four in the bottom of the eighth. UA got three straight singles to load the bases with nobody gone. Turocy drove in Burant with a groundout, Ivory Alexander connected for an RBI single and Devan Ahart hit a sacrifice fly to account for three of the runs in the inning. Washington also scored when shortstop Garret Black bobbled Tyler Begun's grounder.
 
The ninth started when Watkins reached on a passed ball after swinging and missing at strike three. Burant then hit a single through the right side and White was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Barber would balk in Watkins from third and Burant would score on a groundout to second by Washington.
 
The Zips and Bobcats will finish off this weekend's series tomorrow at 1 p.m. at Jackson Field. Senior Alex Loftin takes the mound for Akron and will be opposed by Ohio's Seth Streich.

Toledo 16, Bowling Green 8
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio—The offenses were ready to go at Steller Field on Saturday afternoon, as the two teams combined for 24 runs and 31 hits, with Toledo downing Bowling Green 16-8. Alex Radon was the winning pitcher, picking up his first win of the season. Ethan McKenney was the losing pitcher on the afternoon. Toledo improves to 26-24, 15-8 in the MAC with the win. With the defeat, the Falcons drop to 19-30, 8-15 in MAC action.
 
Toledo jumped on Falcon starter Ethan McKenney, banging   out six hits for five runs in the first inning. The Falcons wouldn’t surrender easily, as Patrick Lancaster led off the bottom of the first inning with a double. A Jeremy Shay single would move Lancaster to third, with Shay moving up on the fielding error by the Rockets. T.J. Losby and Logan Walker would bring the two runners home, putting the score at 5-2 after just one inning.  

Toledo would not skip a beat in the top of the second, scoring four runs, and knocking McKenney out of the game after just one-plus inning of work. Jason Link would come on in relief for the Falcons, going three innings on the afternoon.
  
After adding three additional runs in the top of the third, Toledo led 12-2. Jeremy Shay would homer to right field, his fifth, to give the Falcons a run in the bottom of the third.

The Falcons would knock Toledo starter, Matt Kuna, out of the game in the fifth inning with a four-spot of their own. Brian Bien, Shay, and Andrew Kubuski would single for the Falcons in the inning, while Walker and Jake Thomas each had doubles. Matt Pitzulo added an RBI sacrifice fly, on a drive to deep center field, for the fourth run of the inning.
  
BGSU would creep to within four, at 12-8, after a single run in the bottom of the seventh, but they would not get any closer, as Toledo scored two runs in each of the final two innings for the 16-8 win.
  
Toledo outhit Bowling Green 19-12 on the afternoon. Four Falcons—the same four as yesterday (Bien, Shay, Walker, and Rait)—had multi-hit games, while Logan Walker also had three RBI on the afternoon.

The two teams will play the series’ finale tomorrow afternoon beginning at 1 pm. Four Falcon seniors—Tyler Wynn, Matt Vannett, Matt Malewitz, and Patrick Martin—will be honored before tomorrow’s game, with the ceremony beginning at 12:45 pm.