AVON: The modus operandi proved the same for the Kent State baseball team in its 9-0 win over Buffalo in the opening round of the Mid-American Conference Tournament on Wednesday at All Pro Freight Stadium.
The Golden Flashes’ performance was focused, workmanlike and nearly flawless. They used timely hitting and an impressive pitching effort from David Starn.
Starn pitched eight innings of shutout ball, giving up just two hits, to earn the win.
But it is becoming increasingly obvious that KSU is a team that will continue to take advantage of any opportunity that is presented.
The Bulls made two early mistakes and the Flashes made them pay with runs..
It took a couple of innings for Starn (9-3), who faced just 28 batters, to settle down, but when he did, the Bulls found hitting him akin to swinging a bat at a gnat.
It appeared as if he didn’t have his best stuff to start, but he threw well enough to ensure that Buffalo hit grounders. He gave credit to his catcher David Lyon for straightening things out.
“The mound gave me a little bit of trouble,” Starn said.
“We resorted back to the fastball. I think I threw more fastballs in this game than I have all month. They were sitting on my off-speed [pitches], so we challenged them with some fastballs and that seemed to work out.”
When the Bulls did manage to get the bat on the ball, they often found KSU’s outfielders tracking down well-hit fly balls and its infielders making stellar defensive efforts.
“I thought we were great defensively. David Lyon, it starts with the guy behind the plate,” KSU coach Scott Stricklin said.
“I thought Jimmy Rider made some great plays and I thought Alex Miklos made a couple of really nice catches in right field. He kept the momentum from going. We turned a couple of double plays.”
KSU struck early. Shortstop Jimmy Rider singled with one out in the first to get the Flashes started. Lyon reached on an error and first baseman George Roberts delivered an RBI single to left to take a 1-0 lead.
Third baseman Sawyer Polen (4-for-4, two RBI) delivered a two-out, RBI single to right to score Roberts. A fielding error by Bulls first baseman Alex Baldock allowed another run to cross the plate for a 3-0 Flashes lead.
They added an insurance run in the third, and broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth with a five-run inning.
“It was just a great all-around effort by our team and it’s game one,” Stricklin said.
With the win, KSU will face Western Michigan at 4 p.m. today. The Flashes swept the regular-season series against the Broncos.
George M. Thomas can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.