Kent State Begins Play at Los Angeles Regional

Updated 6/4/2010
Notes Courtesy of Kent State Sports Information

Kent State (39-23) at NCAA Tournament (Los Angeles, Calf.)

All-Time Tournament Record: 7-18

Pitching Probables
Friday: KSU Robert Sabo (6-4) vs. UCLA RHP Gerrit Cole (9-2).
First pitch is at 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST)


The First Pitch
Kent State begins action for the second consecutive year in the NCAA tournament west of the Mississippi River when it takes on the Bruins of UCLA. First pitch on the left coast is scheduled for 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST). All the action can be heard live through the web site with Ty Linder on the play.

The Golden Flashes come into the weekend as the fourth seed of the Los Angeles Regional. Besides the top-seeded Bruins, second seeded LSU and third-seeded UC Irvine are also both nationally-ranked.

Kent State owns a 7-18 record all-time in the NCAA tournament but has never faced UCLA or UC Irvine. LSU and Kent State have met once, back in 1993 at the NCAA South Regional in Baton Rouge, La. The Golden Flashes out-slugged the Tigers 15-12.

Prieviewing the Regional
For the second straight year, it will be a regional full of teams Kent State has never faced as the Golden Flashes open up its first game against the sixth-seeded team nationally, the UCLA Bruins. Second-seeded LSU comes into the regional with a lot of momentum, having won the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament. UC Irvine comes in as the third seed, having taken second behind Cal-State Fullerton in the Big West conference.

UCLA enters the NCAA Tournament with a 43-13 overall record, having finished second in the Pac-10 behind the championships number one seeded team, the Arizona State Sun Devils. Sophomore Dean Epsy leads UCLA with a .359 average and 45 RBI's on the season. Six other Bruins are batting .300 or better. Sophomore Tyler Rahmatulla is leads the team with 70 hits.

On the mound for the Bruins, senior Garett Claypool leads the team with a 2.05 ERA and 8-3 record. Among relief pitchers, redshirt sophomore Dan Klein has an amazing 33 appearances with no starts, a 5-0 record and a team-leading nine saves. He is second on the team with a 2.13 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched.

LSU, the defending national champions, have had an up and down season, finishing fifth in the SEC West. However, the 40-20 Tigers rebounded and captured the 2010 conference tournament crown and was rewarded by going on the road for an NCAA regional for the first time since 1986.

Junior Micah Gibbs leads the LSU offense with a .392 average and 91 hits. Senior Blake Dean is second on the team with a .344 average. He leads the team with 69 RBI's and is second with 63 runs scored on the season. On the mound, junior Austin Ross has a 5.07 ERA and has the most innings pitched at 81.2. Senior Paul Bertuccini has 29 appearances out of the bullpen and is 1-0 with a team-leading ERA of 1.84.

Finally, Kent State may face off with the Anteaters from UC Irvine for the first time. Junior Jeff Cusick leads the team with a .379 average, 81 hits and 59 RBI's. Senior Eric Pettis is UC Irvine's top starter with a 9-3 record and a 3.37 ERA with a 9-3 record in 117.2 innings pitched. He also doubles as a closer with six saves. Fifth-year senior Kyle Necke leads the team with 23 appearances out of the bullpen. He has a 4.61 ERA and a 1-4 record with a team-leading seven saves.

On the Mound
UCLA sends to the mound right-hander Gerrit Cole, who is 9-2 with a 3.27 ERA. Kent State will counter with redshirt junior right hander Robert Sabo, who is 6-4 on the year with a 4.08 ERA, but has four consecutive wins in as many starts.

The Coaches
Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin is currently in his sixth season with an overall record of 222-126. Kent State is 1-4 under Stricklin in the NCAA Tournament.

John Savage is currently in his sixth season with UCLA after serving as head coach at, coincidentally enough, UC Irvine from 2002-04. He has an overall record of 269-254-1 overall and a 181-170 record with UCLA. He has a 5-6 record in the NCAAs at UCLA.

Official Gallas Stat-Tracker
What career record is KSU senior Anthony Gallas not going for?

He is in the top-10 in eight different categories. He already holds the top spot in walks (135) RBI's (224) and total bases (509), is tied for the lead in home runs (49) but he is also second in runs (207) and tied for third in hits (298), behind Jess Bechard by two and six, respectively. He also sits second in at-bats (881)and is fourth in doubles (60). In the conference career record book, Gallas is second in total bases, third in RBI's, fifth in runs scored, sixth in hits, seventh in at-bats and ninth in walks.

Gallas also became the first Flash to hit for the cycle in 15 years. Gallas got the single, double and home run out of the way in the first four innings, including a double and round-tripper in the fourth alone. On the first pitch he saw in the eighth, Gallas tripled to be the first Flash to hit for the cycle since Steve Smetana in 1995. Gallas now leads the team with a .367 average, hitting at a .400 clip with 19 doubles and 13 home runs with 78 hits, 56 runs and 64 RBI's in 45 games since an 0-for-4 outing against Columbia.

MAC Mayham
Before the 2010 Mid-American Conference tournament, it was a consensus among many prognosticators on the internet that it was a wide open tournament where anything could happen. Anything did happen, and Kent State supplied most of the drama.

While junior Justin Gill went on to win MVP honors, it was truly a team effort to fight through the loser's bracket to win the school's eighth MAC tournament title. After losing to Eastern Michigan 12-4 on Wednesday (May 26), redshirt junior Robert Sabo came back and threw his second complete game of the 2010 campaign as Kent State sent the RedHawks packing, 9-2 on Thursday (May 27). In Friday's contests, it was a pair of wins in entirely different fashion. In an elimination game with the Toledo Rockets, Kent State jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first two innings. Toledo countered with one run in the eighth and two runs in the ninth off of sophomore starter David Starn, but extra innings proved to be kind to the Flashes. In extra baseball, Gill threw a 1-2-3 10th and 11th to set up the win in the bottom of the 11th. Freshman Evan Campbell singled to leadoff the inning, was sacrificed to second and scored on fifth-year senior Jared Humphreys' RBI single to the right field gap.

In Friday night's game, sophomore Ryan Mace only allowed a solo home run in seven innings of work as Kent State advanced to championship Saturday with a 15-1 win over Eastern Michigan to force a Saturday elimination game with the Eagles. On Saturday, Kent State fell behind 8-3 and trailed 8-5 in the bottom of the ninth. After a double by junior Ben Klafczynski, singles by senior Anthony Gallas and sophomore Travis Shaw and a sacrifice bunt by sophomore Jimmy Rider, Kent State had the tying runs in scoring position. On the third pitch of the at-bat, sophomore David Lyon ripped a single to center field to tie the game. After junior Kyle Hallock threw a scoreless 10th, Shaw walked with the bases loaded to score the winning run.

Earning the victory in the first game of championhip Saturday, Hallock returned to start the championship game. Hallock picked up his second win of the day, allowing only two runs on five hits in seven innings as Kent State won 5-3.

Scintillating Sabo Going the Distance
While complete nine-inning starts by a Kent State pitcher is rare during the Scott Stricklin era, the five times it has happened have been monumental Kent State wins. The first two nine inning complete games came in 2006. The first was thrown by Chad Wagler with three hits and one unearned run in Kent State's 2-1 win at Vanderbilt Feb. 25. Later in the same season, with the Flashes back against the wall on the final day of the MAC tournament, Alan Morrison allowed one run on three hits as Kent State clubbed Miami 11-1 on May 27 to give KSU the first of four-straight berths in the tournament championship game.

After almost three years without a KSU complete game, Brad Stillings threw a no-hitter on April 10, 2009 as KSU knocked off Toledo 1-0. Finally, this season, redshirt junior Robert Sabo knocked more than 1.0 off his ERA with two complete games in his last three starts. The first came against Bowling Green (May 15), where he allowed only five hits and one run on 97 pitches to give Kent State a leg up in the MAC East race. Against Miami in the MAC Tournament, he allowed two runs and only three hits as Kent State won 9-2.