Kent State Loss To Texas Forces Winner-Take-All NCAA Regional Title Game

Updated 6/6/2011

Story courtesy of Kent State Sports Information

AUSTIN, Texas -- The Kent State baseball team will be forced to play a winner-take-all championship game after falling to Texas, 9-3, today (June 5) in 2011 NCAA Championship Austin Regional play at the University of Texas's UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Ranked No. 24 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the No. 3-seeded Golden Flashes (45-16) lost a chance to clinch their first-ever regional title and Super Regional berth by falling to the No. 5-ranked Longhorns (46-16). No. 1-seeded Texas forced a deciding seventh game of the regional, which will be held Monday (June 6) at 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST). The winner of tomorrow's game will move on to face the Arizona State -- champion of the Tempe Regional -- next weekend (June 10-12). The Flashes fall to 2-1 in regional action and 9-21 all-time in NCAA Tournament play with just their sixth loss over the last 40 games of the 2011 campaign. Kent State drops to 3-3 against ranked opponents this season.

Kent State lost despite a second-straight multi-hit game against the Longhorns from senior right fielder Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio), who went 3 for 4 with two RBIs. The First Team All-Mid-American Conference selection recorded his team-best 28th multi-hit game of the season. Klafczynski totaled three hits for the second game in a row and 10th time in 2011 and is now four hits away from tying Andrew Davis (2004-07) for the most hits in Kent State history with 313. Freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio) also collected three hits, marking his 14th multi-hit game of the season and sixth with three base knocks.

Junior left-handed starting pitcher David Starn (Hudson, Ohio) was tagged with the pitching defeat for Kent State, falling to 9-3 on the season. He surrendered six runs -- four of them earned -- on seven hits and three walks over six innings. Starn fanned three, matching Andy Sonnanstine (2004) for the most strikeouts in a single season in Kent State history with 117.

Texas plated the game's first runs in the top of the first. Senior first baseman Tant Shepherd coaxed a leadoff walk to get things started for the Longhorns. Freshman right fielder Mark Payton laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Shepherd up to second. Junior shortstop Brandon Loy tallied the first run of the contest by driving Shepherd home with an RBI single. Freshman third baseman Erich Weiss put two men on with no outs with a base hit through the right side, and he and Loy executed a double steal to put both in scoring position. Senior center fielder Paul Montalbano scored Loy with an RBI groundout. Sophomore left fielder Jonathan Walsh made it 3-0 with a double to left center to bring home Weiss.

The Longhorns tacked on another run in the ensuing frame when junior second baseman Jordan Etier reached on a fielder's choice, stole second and then scored courtesy of a single to left by Shepherd.

The Golden Flashes began chipping away at Texas's lead in the third, taking advantage of three hits and two Texas errors. Toadvine ignited the rally by singling to left, then advancing to third thanks to a throwing error by Texas. Sophomore center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) smacked a single into right to bring around Toadvine. Campbell scored two outs later by way of a single to right by Klafczynski to make it a 4-2 contest.

The Longhorns got a run back in the top of the fourth when Shepherd coaxed a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Payton, stole third and scored on a single through the right side by Weiss.

Texas tacked on another score in the sixth. Payton cracked a one-out double down the right field line, and, one out later, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Kent State error.

Kent State cut the Texas advantage in half again in the seventh when Toadvine cracked a leadoff single down the right field line, moved to second on a walk by Campbell, advanced to third on a fly out to center by Shaw and scored on a single to right by Klafczynski.

The Longhorns added on three more insurance scores in the ninth. Montalbano smacked a one-out single up the middle and Walsh followed with a base hit to right to set the table for a three-run home run over the left field wall by junior designated hitter Kevin Lusson.

Payton and Weiss led the Texas charge with two hits apiece. Freshman right-handed reliever Nathan Thornhill earned the pitching triumph for the Longhorns, fanning seven over 3.2 frames while allowing one earned run on three hits and one walk to improve to 3-0 on the season.

Junior righty Ryan Mace (Tallmadge, Ohio) will get the start for Kent State in Monday's title game and will oppose Texas's junior left-hander Sam Stafford.