Game story courtesy of Kent State Athletic Communications
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Kent State baseball team saw its season come to a close today (June 6) in a 5-0 loss to Texas in the 2011 NCAA Championship Austin Regional Final at the University of Texas's UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
Kent State finished regional play with a 2-2 mark, which included an 11-inning 4-2 regional-opening win over Texas State last Friday(June 3) and a 7-5 triumph over the No. 5-ranked Longhorns last Saturday (June 4). Texas worked its way back through the loser's bracket and defeated Kent State in two straight potential championship-clinching games for the Golden Flashes.
"We're disappointed to be in the position that we are in," said seventh-year head coach and Mid-American Conference Coach of the Year Scott Stricklin. "To have to be beat twice, it's tough to handle, it really is. We felt like we were in good shape, and we were. We had a chance to be in both games, and we just couldn't come up with the big hit. A lot of credit obviously goes to Texas's defense and its pitching."
Ranked No. 24 in the nation according to the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, the 2011 Kent State squad put together the finest season in program history. The Golden Flashes (45-17) matched the 1992 NCAA Tournament qualifying squad for the most victories in a single season. Kent State reached an NCAA regional final for the second time in program history and first time since 2001 after qualifying for the national tournament as a No. 3 seed for the first time in program history. The Golden Flashes won their 11th MAC regular season title and ninth tournament crown, winning the MAC Tournament for an unprecedented third straight year. Kent State also became the first squad to win the conference's regular season and tournament titles in the same season since 2005.
Monday's contest concluded the outstanding careers of Kent State seniors Brennen Glass (Springfield, Ohio), Justin Gill (Canton, Ohio), Kyle Hallock (Sandusky, Ohio) and Ben Klafczynski (Granger Township, Ohio). The quartet helped Kent State win two conference regular season titles and three tournament crowns, reach the NCAA Tournament three times and amass a winning percentage of .671 (163-80 from 2008-11).
Glass, a senior right-handed starting pitcher, transferred to Kent State after a two-year stint at Grand Valley State. He wrapped up his career with an 8-1 record and 64 strikeouts.
Gill, a senior right-handed reliever, finish his career as the school's all-time pitching appearances leader with 97 and is tied for fifth all-time with 11 saves. He was named MVP of the 2010 MAC Tournament, striking out six batters in 7.1 innings of relief work over three elimination games.
Hallock, a left-handed starting pitcher, closes his career out with the second-most career strikeouts (237) in school history. He alsoranks third in career innings pitched (297.0), fifth in career pitching wins (22) and seventh in career pitching appearances (65). He was named the 2011 MAC Pitcher of the Year, becoming the ninth Kent State arm to garner such distinction. He finished his senior campaign with a 10-4 record, tying for the second-most wins in a single season in Kent State history. Hallock's 106.1 innings pitched and 88 strikeouts rank second and tied for sixth, respectively, in a single-season for the Golden Flashes while his ERA of 1.95 is the 10th-best in a single season in school history.
Klafczynski, an outfielder, wraps up his four-year career as one of the most prolific hitters in school history. He finishes as the career leader in total bases (520) and runs scored (211), second in at-bats (891),hits (312), doubles (79) and RBIs (197) and eighth in home runs (37). He was a First Team All-MAC pick in 2011, hitting a team-best .368 with a team-high 91 hits, 19 doubles and 57 RBIs.
Klafczynski was joined on the Austin Regional All-Tournament Team by junior catcher David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.), redshirt sophomore left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Chafin (Wakeman, Ohio) and freshman second baseman Derek Toadvine (Springfield, Ohio). Klafczynski batted .375 with six hits - including two doubles -- with three RBIs. Lyon collected four hits -- including smashing his second career grand slam. Toadvine added four hits and scored three runs. Chafin fanned eight over 8.2 frames to up his season record to 8-1 in the Saturday night victory over Texas. He increased his season strikeout total to 105, which ranks as the third-most in a single season in the Kent State record books.
Texas took the early lead by plating a run in the bottom of the first. Senior first baseman Tant Shepherd smacked a leadoff double to left. Freshman right fielder Mark Payton laid down a bunt, and Shepherd scored on the play on a Kent State error.
The Longhorns made it 2-0 in the third. Junior second baseman Jordan Etier ran the count full and coaxed a leadoff walk. He moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Shepherd, then scored on a base hit to left by Payton.
Texas added on single tallies in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Freshman third baseman Erich Weiss got the sixth started by being hit by a pitch and later scoring courtesy of a sacrifice fly to center by freshman catcher Jacob Felts. In the seventh, junior shortstop Brandon Loy cracked a two-out single through the left side, stole second and then scored on a single up the middle by Weiss. Sophomore center fielder Cohl Walla smacked a one-out double to left and scored by way of a single and a throwing error by Kent State to plate Texas's final run.
Junior right-handed starting Ryan Mace (Tallmadge, Ohio) suffered the pitching defeat for Kent State, allowing three earned runs on six hits and two walks while falling to 5-3 on the season. He fanned one over 5.1 innings of work.
Weiss led Texas at the plate with two hits, an RBI and a run scored. Shepherd was named MVP of the regional. The Longhorns will host Arizona State -- winners of the Tempe Regional -- this weekend in Super Regional action.