Hickman Leads Cardinals Past Flashes, 7-1

Updated 5/18/2000
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    Jason Hickman
    Junior lefthander Jason Hickman hurled a six-hit complete game to lead third-seeded Ball State University to a 7-1 victory over top-seeded and host Kent State University in the third round of the 2000 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament Thursday at Gene Michael Field.

    Hickman (2-0) was in command throughout the game for the Cardinals, who bounced back from a 5-2 upset at the hands of Ohio University in the first round. He allowed two hits in an inning only once and permitted just two Kent runners to reach third base.

    "I knew we had to have a well-pitched game and today Hickman was simply marvelous," said Ball State head coach Rich Maloney. "It's unsung heroes that decide how a tournament goes and he threw the best game of his career when we had to have it."

    The Cardinals (33-22) scored all the runs they would need in the top of the third inning, plating six runs off Kent starter Doug Straight (8-2). An error by Kent first baseman John VanBenschoten on MAC Player of the Year Shayne Ridley's ground ball allowed the second run to score and opened the door for Ball State, which proceeded to break the game open. Matt Wood followed the error with a sacrifice fly that scored Jeremy Ridley and Matt Deckman singled in Shayne Ridley. Doug Boone then hit his 11th home run of the season to stretch the Cardinals' lead to 6-0.

    "If you take away that inning, it's a pretty even game," Kent head coach Rick Rembielak said. "It's never easy in the tournament. What it comes down to is the teams that break first. Doug (Straight) wasn't at the top of his game but there's nobody else I wanted out there."

    The Golden Flashes (40-16) trimmed the deficit to 6-1 in the fourth inning when Hickman issued back-to-back walks to Dan Gutschmidt and Craig Whitaker. Number-nine hitter Chris Detweiler then bounced a bad-hop single over the head of Shayne Ridley at shortstop to score Gutschmidt.

    Ball State, the MAC's West Division co-champion, tacked on another run in the sixth inning when a fielding error by Whitaker on Aaron Zehnal's single to center allowed Jimmy Long to score from second.

    Other than the six-run third, Straight allowed only one run and three hits in six innings of work. Scott Diehl pitched a perfect seventh inning in relief.

    Ball State will meet Central Michigan University Friday at 1 p.m., while Kent will play either Ohio University or Miami University at 10 a.m.