Tyler Skulina just didn't have what it took this time for the Flashes - especially problematic against a pitcher like South Carolina's Roth.
Mike Roth was Mike Roth, and Tyler Skulina just wasn't very good at all. That's about all you need to know in order to sum up the end of Kent State's magical run through the College World Series.
The Flashes scored first by stringing a couple of hits together, but that was quickly undone when Roth got NickHamilton to ground into an inning ending double play. Over the next two innings, South Carolina rapped out six hits to bring in four runs, and the Flashes had more strikeouts (7) than balls hit out of the infield (5). That's a quick and easy recipe for a loss.
It's fair to say that the Flashes' luck may have been up even with a win. They would've needed to beat Arkansas later Thursday and then again on Friday just to advance to the final. So what happens now?
Priority number one is making sure that Scott Stricklin doesn't leave to coach Michigan (the only current coaching vacancy). Stricklin has repeatedly said he loves being at Kent State, and has turned down several other Big Ten coaching jobs in the past, but you never know. The school has promised him new lights for the stadium and other possible upgrades, all of which are easier to get with a well-known coach asking for them.
The team will lose two of their best players both offensively and defensively, shortstop Jimmy Rider (Pittsburgh) and catcher David Lyons (Texas) to the draft; junior pitcher Ryan Bores (Texas) has said he is gone, and Hamilton (Cleveland) may also leave.
Skulina, despite his most recent struggle, is talented and will lead the rotation on his return, along with Alex Miklos and Evan Campbell. This leaves a strong defensive team that will need to find new offensive options (or, at the very least, will need to assess whether its CWS offensive struggles were a trend or a speed bump). but whom should otherwise still be very competitive.
Here's to another strong run next season, boys.