Tigers Fend Off Kent State, 12-7
March 15, 2013
Kent State got on the board in the third with a two-out rally. Evan Campbell got his second hit in as many at bats with one out in the third and moved to second on a passed ball. After a strikeout put two outs on the board, George Roberts singled down the right field line to score Campbell. The Flashes moved Roberts to third with a single, but they got stranded when Tiger hurler Sam Moll rung up his seventh strikeout of the evening.
Memphis answered back in the bottom of the inning, but scored a run without getting a hit. Drew Griffin reached on an error to start the frame and Ford Wilson followed with a walk. A sac bunt by Ethan Gross moved the runners to second and third with one out. Zach Willis roped a liner to the Flashes shortstop for the second out, but the second throwing error of the inning allowed Griffin to score, tying the game at 1-1.
The Tigers finally got in the hit column as Tucker Tubbs started the fourth with a single up the middle. Keaton Aldridge put down a sacrifice bunt attempt, but the Flashes catcher elected to try for the out at second. The throw was late resulting in Aldridge reaching on the fielder's choice. Carter White walked to load the bases and a fielder's choice by Griffin drove in the go-ahead run, giving Memphis the 2-1 lead. Wilson laid down a squeeze bunt, but the catcher couldn't hold on to the ball, resulting in an error, as Aldridge scored the Tigers third tally of the day.
Tubbs powered the U of M to a 5-1 lead in the fifth as he belted his second home run of the season. After Bryce Beeler doubled with one out in the inning, Tubbs stepped in and hit a 2-0 pitch over the left field fence. For the Tigers, it was the fifth-straight game with a home run after hitting one home run in the first 12 games.
Willis kept the home run parade going in the sixth as he ripped his first home run of the season over the right-centerfield fence. Wilson walked with one out, but was out at second on a Gross fielder's choice. Gross later stole second with Willis at the plate and facing a 3-2 count, Willis bashed his second home run to give Memphis the 7-1 advantage.
Kent State pushed across three runs in the seventh and had the tying run at the plate with two outs, but Memphis reliever Conner Porter kept the Tigers ahead, 7-4. Campbell's third hit of the night made it 7-2 and a two-run single by Tommy Monnot cut the Tigers lead to 7-4. With runners on the corners and two outs, Porter forced a grounder to short and Gross raced to second to get the force out to end the frame.
Memphis got one run back in the seventh to take an 8-4 lead. Beeler led off the seventh with a double and the Tigers brought in Austin Hatfield as a pinch runner. Tubbs followed with a single to left-center plating Hatfield for his third RBI of the night. After a foul out, Memphis made two outs on the base paths, both caught stealing at second base.
The Flashes kept their hopes alive with a two-run eighth, but it took a leaping catch at the wall in left field to keep the Tigers in the lead. Back-to-back singles followed by a RBI groundout made it a three run game, 8-5. Campbell came up with his fourth hit of the ninth to score another, cutting the Tigers lead to 8-6. Roberts belted a two-out pitch to deep leftfield, but Memphis outfielder Jake Little had just enough room to leap and make the catch, ending the inning with the U of M holding an 8-6 lead.
Memphis added four runs in the eighth to open a 12-6 advantage as Willis collected three RBI with a bases-clearing double to dead centerfield. With the three RBI, Willis became the first Memphis player with five or more RBI in a game since Jacob Wilson had five RBI at Murray State on April 18 last season.
Kent State took one last stab at the Tigers' lead. Zarley Zalewski reached second base on an outfield error and scored when T.J. Sutton singled following a Alex Miklos walk. Zalewski's run scored, but a strikeout from lead-off hitter Derek Toadvine and a flyout caught up against the rightfield wall by Austin Hatfield left the bases loaded for the Flashes and closed out the 12-7 victory for the Tigers.
The two teams will square off again on Saturday in the second game of the three-game series. First pitch will be at 2:00 p.m. Kent State is expected to throw right hander Taylor Williams, who leads the Flashes' starters with a 2.48 ERA, while the Tigers are expected to counter with lefthander Erik Schoenrock, who sports a 2.05 ERA and a 2-0 record.