AVON: The 2018 campaign marked the third consecutive season Kent State has entered the Mid-American Conference baseball tournament as the No. 1 seed.

And after two years of seeing their promising seasons end prematurely, this time the Golden Flashes lived up to their billing.

In 2016, Toledo ace Keegan Aiken pitched six scoreless innings in the Rockets’ 12-7 win in the championship game

Last year it was two tournament losses at the hands of Ohio.

This year, though, Kent State’s MAC season ended with a catcher Pete Schuler embracing pitcher Eli Kraus — who dazzled with a two-hitter and 12 strikeouts — on the mound in a celebration that ended in a massive dogpile of happy players after a 14-0 beatdown of Miami in the championship game.

“We’ve had that taste in our mouth and we’ve been on the wrong side of it,” Flashes coach Duncan said. “It’s really good to be on the right side.”

Kent State advanced to an NCAA regional, which takes place June 1-4. The Flashes will find out who and where they play during the NCAA selection show at noon Monday.

Miami beat Central Michigan 9-8 in an elimination game on Saturday afternoon to advance to the final. The Flashes beat the RedHawks 7-2 on Friday to advance to the championship game.

“I have no words. It’s crazy, we’ve been so close twice,” said Kraus, still sopping wet from the Gatorade shower he had received moments earlier. “We said we’re going to do it now. It was awesome.”

Duncan said Kraus’ performance was just another chapter in his storied career with the Flashes.

“He’s tremendous,” Duncan said. “He’s a big-stage pitcher, there’s no doubt about it. He loves the lights, he loves it all. There’s not too many people who are more competitive than him.”

The Flashes had a balanced offensive attack all night, scoring in six of the eight innings in which they batted.

They broke through in the first inning on a looping RBI single by Schuler that dropped in front of Miami right fielder Dallas Hall, who appeared to lose the ball in the sun.

The Flashes added another run three batters later when Michael Turner was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. It was the 23rd batter hit by Miami starter Spencer Mraz this eason.

After adding a run in the second inning on an RBI single by Mason Mamarella, the Flashes once again took advantage of Mraz’s lack of command, as Josh Hollander became the second Kent State batter to be hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Hollander’s RBI not only increased the Flashes lead to 4-0, it also ended Mraz’s day and he left having allowed five runs (four earned) in two innings.

Mraz was relieved by Jay Wilson, who promptly hit Kent State’s Nick Kanavas with the bases loaded to make it 5-0.

The Flashes got through to Wilson again in the fourth. After Reilley Hawkins singled and Patrick Ferguson walked, Michael Turner drove in Hawkins with a ground-rule double that he tattooed to center field.

The Flashes scored one more run in the inning when Ferguson scored on a wild pitch.

The Flashes added a run in the fifth on a groundout by Greg Lewandoski, and then exploded for six runs in the eighth. Hollander hit a two-run single and then scored on a wild pitch. Mamarella added an RBI single, and Pavin Parks finished off the scoring with a two-run home run to right field.

“It was a laser show,” Kraus said. “We’re such a good offensive team. Our hitters stay on pitches so well. We got that lead, but it wasn’t enough for us.”