BELLEVUE, Neb.: Ryan Bores has already pitched what Kent State coach Scott Stricklin called the biggest game of the season.
That was a 7-3 complete-game victory over Purdue in the Gary, Ind., regional, which followed a 7-6, 21- inning marathon triumph over Kentucky.
So Stricklin believes the junior right-hander from Strongsville High School can handle the daunting task tonight as the Golden Flashes (46-19) face elimination in the College World Series. They take on top-seeded Florida (47-19) at 5 p.m. in a loser’s bracket game.
The temperature is forecast to hit 100 degrees.
Stricklin said Bores (9-3, 3.35 ERA) has been consistent since KSU’s 10-4 loss at Pepperdine on March 18, when he gave up seven earned runs and 11 hits in four innings as his record dropped to 3-2. It is Bores’ first season with the Golden Flashes after he transferred from Cuyahoga Community College. Bores spent his first year in college at Ohio University.
Stricklin allowed Bores and No. 1 starter David Starn to fly home early from California to rest for a three-game series against Northern Illinois. But before Bores left, Stricklin challenged him in front of the team.
“I don’t think he was very happy with me, but he agreed with me,” Stricklin said Sunday after KSU’s practice at Bellevue East High School. “He had a long flight back and about four days to think about it.
“When you’re the new guy, you always want to do well and impress the people around you. Sometimes when it doesn’t happen, you want everyone to realize you’re upset about it. That’s what I told Ryan, ‘Everyone knows you want to get it done. You don’t need to show everybody.’ Ever since then, he’s been lights out.”
Drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 27th round this month and in the 26th round last year, Bores said he will rely on his two-seam fastball and hope to get the Gators to ground out.
“It’s like a sinker for me,” he said. “I get a lot of ground balls and keep my pitch count down.”
He said the largest crowd he’s pitched in front of was 7,000 for the Madison (Wis.) Mallards in the Northwoods League. For Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Arkansas, 23,980 filled TD Ameritrade Park.
“I played about half the season there last summer,” Bores said. “My first game there I was pretty nervous, but after you do it once. … Whatever was there yesterday, that was insane.”
Stricklin said he would not hesitate to use No. 3 starter Tyler Skulina of Walsh Jesuit for an inning against Florida if necessary. “Anything and everything to try to win this game,” Stricklin said. … Stricklin’s 8-year-old son Cale displayed his switch-hitting skills before practice. Stricklin said he convinced Cale to try hitting from the left side when he was 3 by telling him “Spiderman bats left-handed.” … Second baseman Derek Toadvine on the challenge of facing Florida: “We’re the underdogs already. We don’t really have too much to lose. We get to play loose.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at email@example.com. Read her blog at www.ohio.com/marla. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/sports.abj.