Coming into the weekend, Central Michigan had the best batting average in the Mid-American Conference.
Kent State was able to keep their bats at bay this weekend, however, as the Flashes outhit the Chippewas in all three games.
The Flashes took the three-game series with a win on Friday night, 10-4. Saturday featured a doubleheader due to inclement weather expected for Sunday and split both games, losing the first one 7-4, and taking game two, 12-4.
“Central Michigan came in here on fire,” coach Jeff Duncan said. “I think we are getting better and I think we are getting closer to what we are looking for on a daily basis, which is good.”
Kent State started the series off with a convincing win on Friday where they outhit the Chippewas 13 to 4.
Senior Connor Wollersheim got the start in his ninth appearance of the season, going six innings with four strikeouts. Wollersheim picked up the win, improving his record to 3-4.
Junior Zach Schultz earned his second save of the season with three scoreless innings of relief where he allowed just one hit.
The Flashes offense got to Central Michigan pitcher Pat Leatherman early, forcing him to throw more than 80 pitches in 2 ⅔ innings.
He allowed six runs, five of which came with two outs.
Junior infielder Alex Ronnebaum led the offense, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and a double, totaling five RBI.
“[Central Michigan’s] pitcher came in 5-0 with a two ERA. We set the tone right out of the gate,” Duncan said. “We dictated how the game was going to go and good things happen when you put balls in play.”
The doubleheader on Saturday started off with a loss where Central Michigan scored three runs in the ninth inning to win 7-4.
The Flashes battled back all game, coming back from an early 4-0 deficit before losing in the ninth.
Freshman outfielder Justin Kirby got the offense going in the third inning with a double that was followed by a single from junior outfielder Ben Carew that advanced Kirby to third.
Kirby would eventually score off a Cam Touchette ground ball with Carew scoring on an RBI single from sophomore catcher Michael Turner.
Kirby tied the game in the sixth inning with a two-out, two-run home run. The score remained tied until the top of the ninth. The Chippewas loaded the bases, and scored three runs without recording a hit.
The Flashes did not respond in the ninth, dropping the first game of the doubleheader.
Junior John Matthews started game one, tossing five innings with seven strikeouts. Sophomore Jack Zimmerman came into the game in the ninth, and was taken out after getting only one out and replaced by Senior Pavin Parks.
Parks suffered the loss, allowing two walks and a hit by pitch to give the Chippewas baserunners that eventually scored.
Kent State responded in the series finale with a 12-4 win.
“At the end of that first game, we realized they didn’t necessarily beat us, we kind of beat ourselves,” Carew said. “So, it was easy to come into that second game with a lot of confidence, and we carried that in and hit the ball and good things happened.”
The Flashes commanded the game from the first inning, scoring five runs to give them a comfortable lead.
Carew led off the game with a bunt single and advanced to second off a Touchette single. Senior infielder Kian O’Brien launched a three-run home run to left-center field. A pitch later Parks went back-to-back with a solo home run of his own.
A triple by Kirby in the next at-bat forced an early exit for Central Michigan pitcher Tyler Hankins who only pitched ⅓ of the inning.
The Chippewas fought back, scoring three runs in the third but remained quiet the rest of the game, only scraping across one run in the ninth.
Kent State had 15 hits, with Kirby going 3-for-3, a single away from hitting for the cycle. Carew and O’Brien added three hits each, scoring a combined five runs.
Freshman Trevor Pittman and freshman Luke Albright both pitched in the finale as the two split the whole game.
Pittman pitched 2 ⅔ innings before Albright came in relief. Albright shut down the CMU offense, going 6 ⅓ innings to record the win.
“This was a good series for us, another series win,” Duncan said. “If we continue to win series, we are going to be right where we need to be at the end of the year. We are starting to attack the game, even in the loss that we had.”
The Flashes move into the week with a Wednesday matchup at home against Pitt. These two teams faced earlier in the season, with Kent State winning, 6-4.
Pitt (10-24) enters Kent coming off a conference series loss to Wake Forest. The Panthers will face Youngstown State Tuesday at home, before traveling to Kent.
John Conley is a sports reporter. Contact him at email@example.com.