After a pair of losses in the NCAA Regionals, the Kent State Golden Flashes were victimized of being one of the two-and-out teams, as they go back home empty handed.
Game 1: Louisville wins 5-0
As expected, Brian Clark got the nod to start the first game for the Golden Flashes, and he just got off to a rough start. A fielding error by shortstop Zach Beckner allowed the first pair of unearned runs to score for Louisville.
The Cardinals would tack on another early run after an RBI double off the bat of Zach Lucas in the second.
Allowing the first three batters to reach base in the bottom of the third inning by a walk, hit by pitch and a fielder's choice, Corey Ray hit a 2 RBI single to left field to give Louisville a comfortable 5-0 lead.
The Kent State offense didn't give much of a fight, not getting another base runner until the eight inning when they loaded the bases up for Troy Summers, but couldn't get a run to cross the plate as he went down swinging.
Clark, given the loss, tossed 100 pitches through five innings, allowing five runs (two earned) to score off of four hits and three walks. He also struck out five.
Kyle Funkhouser, who started for Louisville, tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing four hits and a walk while collecting ten strikeouts. The sophomore earned his 13th win of the year.
This loss sent Kent State to play the next afternoon to face the loser out of the opening Kentucky/Kansas game, which in this case, just happened to be Kentucky.
Game 2: Kentucky wins 4-2
Nick Jensen-Clagg pitched one of the most impressive games of his college career, but it didn't end with they way that Kent State fans had hoped for.
A.J. Reed, college baseball's Player of the Year, started on the hill for Kentucky and the Golden Flashes immediately attacked him to get on the scoreboard first. The first three batters all reached base with singles to bring up designated hitter Zarley Zalewski. Zalewski got a single of his own on an 0-2 count to bring Jon Wilson and Troy Summers across to get to an early 2-0 lead.
Reed and Jensen-Clagg found themselves in a lengthy pitchers' duel through the first eight innings, both collecting three and four strikeouts respectively. Clagg, who has never pitched a complete game before, was brought out in the ninth inning to finish things off with his pitch count sitting at 96. After allowing a single and balking the runner over to second, Reed came up to bat with a very good scoring opportunity. Taking advantage of the situation, Reed ripped a double to right center field for the Wildcats' first run of the game.
Jensen-Clagg would finally be replaced by John Fasola, but the 'Cats didn't stop rallying.
Fasola walked a pair of batters and let up a 2 RBI double by Thomas Bernal, which gave Kentucky the lead.
Conversely, Reed would finish his day on the hill with a complete game, allowing nine hits with no walks. Jensen-Clagg allowed five hits through his 8.1 innings of work with no walks and five strikeouts. Fasola was handed the loss, his second of the year.
Definitely not the way Kent State wanted to end their trip to Louisville, but there won't be any shot for redemption for a whole 'nother year.