EUGENE, ORE.: Center fielder Evan Campbell’s game-saving catch allowed Kent State to hold on to a 7-6 victory over Oregon on Saturday night in the series opener of the NCAA super regional at PK Park, leaving the Golden Flashes a win away from a trip to the College World Series.
The Flashes entered the ninth with a three-run lead. The Ducks loaded the bases with two hits and a walk off freshman Brain Clark. Redshirt freshman Josh Pierce entered the game and registered a strikeout and then induced a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to two.
Back-to-back walks narrowed the lead to one but set the stage for Campbell.
Oregon junior shortstop J.J. Antobelli hit a line drive that didn’t worry Campbell at first.
“Right off the bat I thought it was a routine play because the ball wasn’t carrying well all day,” Campbell said. “But as I was running it kept going and kept carrying. It was close.”
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at 10 p.m. tonight on ESPNU. A Game 3, if necessary, would be at 7 p.m. Monday.
“It was certainly a hard-fought win,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said. “It just shows how tough our kids are. We made pitches when we needed to and made plays when we needed to, and Evan Campbell just made an unbelievable play to give us a huge win.”
The Flashes out-hit the Ducks and committed fewer errors but 11 walks made the game interesting
Starter David Starn got the win and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He ended up working 6⅓ innings, striking out five and allowing four earned runs on five hits and seven walks.
Offensively, shortstop Jimmy Rider had a double, single, two RBI and scored two runs. Right fielder T.J. Sutton had two doubles, scored twice and had an RBI.
The game was scoreless for the first two innings until the top of the third when Campbell hit a double, and scored on an RBI single from Rider. Rider then scored off of an overthrow to first on a bunt play by catcher David Lyon. Oregon also scored in the third after two walks, a balk and a ground out.
Kent State added a run in the fourth off of a couple of hits, and then scored two more in the fifth off of two hits and another error by the Ducks.
Starn kept the Ducks hitless until the bottom of the fifth, when Oregon scored their second run of the game, making the score 5-2.
The Ducks would score again in the sixth, after tacking on three more hits. They then scored one more in the seventh, which resulted in a pitching change to right-handed junior Casey Wilson.
The Flashes didn’t score again until the eighth, when an error by the Oregon right fielder off of a line drive by Alex Miklos allowed for two more runs to score.