Kent State will have to battle it out in game three of the Eugene Super Regional after a disappointing 3-2 loss Sunday night to the Oregon Ducks.
The Ducks’ seven hits, along with Kent State’s two errors in Game 2 of the series allowed Oregon to come from behind and pull out a victory over the Golden Flashes, forcing game Monday at 7 p.m. The winner will advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
First baseman George Roberts led the way offensively for the Flashes with 2 RBI and his eighth home run, but it was not enough to defeat the Ducks (46-18).
Kent State starting pitcher Ryan Bores allowed six of the seven Oregon hits. Oregon pitcher Jake Reed allowed five and had six of the Oregon pitching staff’s 12 strikeouts.
“Both teams played very hard,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “Both pitchers were outstanding and one inning really killed us. We’ll be ready to play tomorrow.”
The Golden Flashes drew first blood in the bottom of the second when Roberts homered, putting Kent State (45-18) up 1-0.
The Flashes left Alex Miklos on second base in the third inning, but were unable to score.
In the fourth, the Ducks’ Aaron Payne reached on a bunt single, but was thrown out on an attempted steal to second. Ryon Healy then singled to center, but was picked off by Kent State catcher David Lyon, ending the inning.
The Flashes scored in the bottom of the fourth after Roberts hit a deep fly ball over the Oregon center fielder’s head to score Lyon, who had singled. T.J. Sutton singled as well and Miklos reached on a walk, but two strikeouts and a groundout from Derek Toadvine ended the inning, leaving three more runners on base.
Both teams’ defense and pitching were tight for the next two innings, leaving the score at 2-0 through six.
The Ducks broke through in the seventh inning, however, The Ducks’ Healy singled up the middle, followed by a single by Brett Thomas to the left-center gap that scored Healy. Oregon’s Kyle Garlick then walked, followed by another single by Ryan Hambright that scored Thomas and tied the game.
At this point, Kent State’s left-handed redshirt sophomore Michael Clark was called in to replace Bores.
Next up was Oregon’s Brett Hambright, who got on base on a bunt and an error by the Flashes. This costly error scored Garlick, putting the Ducks up 3-2. Clark was able to close out the inning by getting two groundouts.
Toadvine reached in the bottom of the seventh, only to be left on after a pitching change from the Ducks and a strikeout by center fielder Evan Campbell.
Kent State called on senior right-hander Ryan Mace to replace Clark in the eighth, and he closed out the inning with a groundout, a strikeout, and a line drive to Miklos.
Shortstop Jimmy Rider got the Kent State fans up on their feet as he drove a deep fly ball to left field in the bottom of the inning, only to be caught by Oregon left fielder Brett Thomas as he crashed into the wall. Lyon and Roberts followed with strikeouts.
Despite one single by the Ducks in the top of the ninth, the Golden Flashes’ defense was able to keep it a one-run game.
Sutton got the bottom of the inning started for Kent with a double down the right field line. With no outs and the tying run on second, the Flashes could not get the job done.
Oregon pitchers Thomas Thorpe and Jimmie Sherfy ended the game with three strikeouts.
Kent State left a total of six runners on base, missing some key opportunities to advance to Omaha.