Kent State Road To Omaha Blog: Super Regional Edition

Updated 6/4/2012
MAC Director of Communications Jeremy Guy is off to Eugene, Oregon with the Kent State baseball team as the Golden Flashes travel to their first ever NCAA Super Regional to take on the Oregon Ducks. Follow this blog for a behind-the-scenes look at Kent State as they continue on their road to Omaha. You can also follow Jeremy on Twitter at @JGuyMAC for all of the latest updates. 


Check out ALL of my Super Regional Blog Posts by clicking below (links skip to selected date):
-- Monday, June 4 Blog Post
-- Tuesday, June 5 Blog Post
-- Wednesday, June 6 Blog Post
-- Thursday, June 7 Blog Post
-- Friday, June 8 Blog Post
-- Saturday, June 9 Blog Post
-- Sunday, June 10 Blog Post
-- Monday, June 11 Blog Post

Monday, June 4th
The Golden Flashes baseball team is currently on the way home from Gary, Ind. after winning it's first Regional Championship in school history. Kent State defeated Kentucky last night by a score of 3-2 to claim the title and have now won an NCAA-best 20 consecutive games. The last time a MAC school won a regional was back in 1976 when Eastern Michigan reached the College World Series.

It took a three-run home run to right field courtesy of junior center fielder Evan Campbell in the top of the eighth inning and a spectacular, rally-killing leaping grab at the wall in deep center by the Second Team All-MAC selection to help secure the win. Starting pitcher Tyler Skulina was locked in a nail-biting scoreless battle with Kentucky freshman righty Chandler Shepherd through the first seven frames before Kent State broke things open. 

When Kent State Head Coach Scott Stricklin was asked about Campbell's 3-run shot in the 8th he said, "That was the biggest hit in the history of Kent State baseball."

Six Golden Flashes were named to the All-Regional Team following last night's game as Ryan Bores, Derek Toadvine, George Roberts, Jimmy Rider, Skulina and Campbell were selected to the squad. Roberts was also named MVP of the Regional.




Despite 11 previous trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Golden Flashes had never come away with an NCAA Regional Championship - this week they will prepare for the No. 10 Oregon Ducks in the round of 16 (a.k.a Super Regionals). Dates and times will be announced tonight at 11 p.m. Tickets for the Eugene Super Regional are currently on sale at www.GoDucks.com.

The 2012 MAC Regular Season and Tournament champions, Kent State has won 35 of its last 42 games – including 24 of 26. The Flashes won a wire-to-wire regular season title and followed it up by going a perfect 4-0 in the MAC Tournament to clinch their fourth straight conference tournament crown.

Around 11:30 p.m. this evening the eight super-regional hosts were announced by the NCAA Division I Baseball Committee. (Check out Interactive Bracket here)

A minimum of 45 hours of super-regional television will be provided by family of ESPN channels, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. As many as 15 national broadcast windows could appear on the three ESPN networks from June 8-11. 

The following super regional between Kent State v. Oregon will be played Saturday, June 9, Sunday, June 10, and Monday, June 11 (if necessary).

Kent State (44-17) at No. 5 Oregon (45-17)
Saturday, 11 p.m. ET (ESPNUHD)
Sunday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPNUHD)
Monday 7 p.m. ET (ESPNUHD) -- if necessary



Tuesday, June 5
Traveled down to Portage County today with trusty MAC intern Phil Burwell to do some interviews with Kent State Head Coach Scott Stricklin and several of the student-athletes from this year's 2012 Regional Champion squad. After a morning of preparing questions and a quick lunch at Ray's Place -- we were on our way to Schoonover Stadium

It was the first day that the Golden Flashes were able to practice back home since winning the NCAA Regional Championship in Gary, Ind. Fans and media were both invited to today's practice and it was well attended by both (Yes, Spring Break Dennis was there if you were wondering)...

Within the first 15 minutes we were at practice, we all witnessed a special moment. MAC Pitcher of the Year & 2012 MAC Tournament MVP David Starn had just been drafted in the 7th round (239th pick) of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves. It was fantastic to be on site at the Stadium when Starn got the call. The whole team applauded when Stricklin alerted them of the wonderful news.

We later interviewed Starn and former Walsh Jesuit HS teammate Tyler Skulina and talked about how they have helped each other throughout High School and how they continue to help one another today (See Video Below).   





All-in-all we were able to get 14 interviews done today, including the interview below with Gary All-Regional Team selection & MVP George Roberts. Stay tuned to MAC-Sports.com throughout the week to see video interviews from all of the student-athletes we spoke with as we continue to preview this weekend's Eugene Super Regional.




Also, be sure to check out these following news clippings on the Golden Flashes if you haven't seen them yet. 

Associated Press (Courtesy of Eric Olson)
Mid-majors get a lot of bang for buck in baseball 

Cleveland Plain Dealer (Courtesy of Elton Alexander)

Kent State baseball has a tradition of excellence  

Akron Beacon Journal (Courtesy of George Thomas)

Kent State baseball: Grateful fans, family, friends greet Golden Flashes

Record Courier
Super Flashes: Kent State baseball team producing best season in school history 


Wednesday, June 6
Interviews, interviews and more interviews today for the Golden Flashes. Finally have everything uploaded from yesterday's trip down to Kent State and would love to share some of the video I shot out at Schoonover. I'll have more videos out tomorrow before I take off early Friday morning for Eugene but hopefully this holds you over until I can bring you even more content.

Below are some short interviews with Kent State Catcher David Lyon, MAC All-Time Hit Leader & second baseman Jimmy Rider, NCAA Regional Championship game hero & centerfielder Evan Campbell and DH Nick Hamilton

















Thursday, June 7

The Kent State baseball team took off this morning at 6:45 a.m. and has already landed safely in Eugene, Oregon. Unfortunately, I don't fly out to the Great Northwest until tomorrow morning but the anticipation is killing me and I can't wait to get out there!

This is an exciting time for Kent State & the Mid-American Conference and the media coverage keeps on rolling in. Here are some links of some recent articles for you to look through. Enjoy! 

Kent States’ Stricklin recruits small, dreams big (Akron Beacon Journal)

Kent State preparing for a demanding task in Oregon super regional (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Scott Stricklin keeps Kent State's NCAA baseball team on a steady path (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

For Kent State, elation and exhaustion (Fox Sports Ohio)

Also, here are some more video interviews to hold you over before I bring my on-the-scene coverage from Eugene, Oregon. I spoke with KSU's T.J. Sutton, Derek Toadvine, Sawyer Polen and Alex Miklos the other day and here's what they had to say...














Friday, June 8
I've officially made it to Eugene, Oregon! It's been a long day of traveling but happy and excited that I have finally joined the Golden Flashes here at the NCAA Super Regionals. By the way, look at the advertisement I came across while reading the in-flight magazine today. Coincidence? Possibly some foreshadowing? Only time will tell...

As soon as I landed in Portland I hit the road in my little rental car and drove two hours south to Eugene. They aren't lying when they say it's always cloudy and rainy in this part of the country but to be honest - I love this kind of weather. It's crazy that one minute here it can be a downpour and the next the sun is out and it looks beautiful

I finally arrived at PK Park on the University of Oregon campus to take in some Kent State practice. Let me just say, this park is absolutely beautiful (Thanks Phil Knight!!!). All kidding aside though, this is going to be a great venue to watch a game for the next few days. 

The team seemed relaxed yet focused. I was able to speak with Ryan Bores, George Roberts and Nick Hamilton following practice and here's what they had to say.








Time to head back to the hotel to relax before heading out later tonight to check out Eugene and the University of Oregon campus. Then it's time to rest up and get some sleep. After all, I'll be joining the Golden Flashes on a Duck Hunt tomorrow.
Saturday, June 9 
It's GAMEDAY!!! The No. 13 Golden Flashes will take on No. 8 Oregon at 11 p.m. ET tonight (8 p.m. PST) and the game will be televised on ESPNU/ESPNUHD. You can also watch the game on ESPN3 and listen to it via the Kent State Sports Network. For more information on tonight's game visit today's release.

We spoke with Kent State Head Coach Scott Stricklin earlier in the week and here is what he had to say about his team coming into the first Super Regional in school history. 




As far as today, the team has just been keeping loose. The Golden Flashes took a little walking tour on the University of Oregon campus, checked out the Duck Store (student book store) and then relaxed and watched the other Super Regional games that were on television. There has been a lot of time to kill before tonight's game but everything seems very relaxed although I'm sure the guys can't wait to get out there and play this evening. 

I also did a little touring of the campus on my own and I must say that I came away very impressed by how nice it is here - very clean and the grounds and and buildings on campus are beautiful. 

Probably the best part of my touring today was when I checked out a few of the buildings that they used during the taping of the 1978 classic "Animal House". I visited the frat house they used for the Omega Theta Pi house, the building they used to film most of scenes inside the Delta House (including the Toga Party) and also Johnson Hall where the famous "Horse Scene" was shot. Also got a tip from Oregon Scout.com writer Chris Courtney to check out a place for lunch called "Hole in the Wall BBQ" and he was dead on the money with his recommendation. Great food! 

Now it's time to just get ready for tonight's game. I'll have more to report once I head over to PK Park this evening. Stay tuned and Go Flashes!!


Sunday, June 10
What a night!! Just waking up here on the West Coast after a fantastic night at PK Park. The Golden Flashes are just one win away from a trip to Omaha and their first ever berth in the College World Series. If Kent State defeats Oregon tonight it would be the first time a MAC school has done so since 1976 when Eastern Michigan made the CWS. 

Center fielder Evan Campbell made what will likely go down as the biggest catch in Kent State history, sealing the Golden Flashes 7-6 Super Regional game one win over Oregon in front of a sellout crowd Saturday night at PK Park. In a game that ended at 2:15 a.m. Eastern time, the nation's longest winning streak extended to 21 games, despite Kent State pitchers allowing 11 walks.
 
Campbell's leaping, turn-around catch saved the tying and winning runs from crossing as the Ducks had loaded the bases in the ninth with the help of three walks in the inning.  
 
Senior ace David Starn battled through seven of those walks and got strikeouts when he needed them.  The MAC Pitcher of the Year earned the win, going 6.1 innings, while redshirt freshman Josh Pierce claimed the save. Here is some video from KSU's Jimmy Rider and Campbell following last night's game..





 
The Golden Flashes and Ducks will play game two of their best-of-three series Sunday, beginning at 10 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Pacific. The game can been seen on ESPNU. Tonight's pitching match-up is as follows:

Probable Pitchers 
Kent State: #19 Ryan Bores, RHP, 9-2, 3.29 ERA, 93 SO, 38 BB, 16 GS, 96.0 IP
Oregon: #5 Jake Reed, RHP 7-4, 2.93 ERA, 61 SO, 40 BB, 16 GS, 107.1 IP

Here are some links of how you can follow tonight's game...
TV: ESPNU/ESPNU HD
Webcast: Watch LIVE via ESPN3 (Also available on Watch ESPN App)
Audio: Kent State Sports Network
Twitter: Follow @JGuyMAC & @FlashesBaseball for all of the latest from Eugene
Livestats

Was able to catch up with Head Coach Scott Stricklin this afternoon at the team hotel. Here's what he has to say about tonight's game.





Monday, June 11

It's all comes down to this. One Game. Winner-Take-All. A trip to Omaha on the line. Kent State will take on Oregon today at 7 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. PT (ESPNU) for a chance to reach the College World Series. I know that personally, it was hard for me to even sleep last night -- and I'm not even playing or coaching! I could only imagine how the guys on the team feel. One thing I do know is that they will have it ready... 

A three-run seventh for Oregon made the difference in the Ducks' 3-2 victory over Kent State Sunday night at PK Park. Oregon's win ended the Golden Flashes' 21-game winning streak, which stood as the nation's longest for two weeks. It's now time for Kent State to start a new one...

That's about all I have for today. It's simple -- one win today and the Golden Flashes will be heading to the first College World Series in school history and will be the first team from the MAC to do so since 1976 (Eastern Michigan). Like I said before, the Golden Flashes will have it ready today. Now it's just time to bite down and bring it home... 

Today's Game Information
Monday, June 11  •  7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT (ESPNU)
Probable Pitchers
Kent State: #31 Tyler Skulina, RHP, 11-2, 3.84 ERA, 93 SO, 38 BB, 16 GS, 96.0 IP
Oregon: #44 Jeff Gold, RHP, 8-4, 3.50 ERA, 45 SO, 23 BB, 12 GS, 74.2 IP

TV: ESPNU/ESPNU HD (Game will be regionalized and shown in Ohio/Oregon)
Webcast: Watch LIVE via ESPN3 (Also available on Watch ESPN App)
Audio: Kent State Sports Network
Twitter: Follow @JGuyMAC & @FlashesBaseball for all of the latest from Eugene
Livestats