KENT: There was little to do for the University of Akron baseball team but play the waiting game after their 2-1 loss to Kent State on Saturday at Schoonover Stadium.
They awaited the score of the Bowling Green-Buffalo game to decide their fate for postseason play. Buffalo’s win ended the Zips’ season short of the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Four short weeks ago, the Zips (17-38, 10-17) controlled their destiny in the MAC, but finishing the season with 11 consecutive conference losses (14 in a row overall) has a way of halting any goals a team might have.
One more conference win would have placed them in the MAC Tournament, which begins next week in Avon.
That win could have easily come Saturday afternoon. The Zips played their best defensive game in weeks and received a tremendous complete-game pitching performance from Alex Loftin, who did all that any pitcher can be asked — to give his team a chance to win.
Loftin gave up just two earned runs on two hits in eight innings, striking out four.
“I really had all of my stuff going out there — three of my four pitches,” Loftin said. “That was really tough luck, but Kent is a really good baseball team.”
Kent State (37-17, 24-3), which used four pitchers to get through the game, was simply better, surrendering only one earned run over the course of the game.
“It’s hard,” Loftin said. “You just have to go out there and try to put up as many zeros as possible. I put up seven of them. I guess I needed two more of those.”
The reality is no pitcher can do it without run support and in the series, which KSU swept, the Flashes outscored the Zips 23-4.
There looked to be a glimmer of hope in the top of the fourth inning when second baseman Tyler Begun led off the inning with a solo home run to give the Zips a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately for UA, it was the last significant offense they’d produce.
And the Flashes responded the way they did throughout the series, by answering with runs of their own.
A bloop double by leadoff hitter Evan Campbell gave KSU a base runner to open the bottom of the fourth. A hitter later, Campbell crossed the plate courtesy of a triple to left center by catcher David Lyon. KSU added a run on a sacrifice fly by first baseman George Roberts for a 2-1 lead and their pitching staff closed the door on the Zips.
“It was great to see Tyler hit a home run, but then they came back,” UA coach Rick Rembielak said. “They came right back which is a sign of a good team. They won the inning. They rose to the occasion.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.