Two-Run Ninth Lifts Kent State to 9-8 Win over Baseball

Josh White | Photo by Ron Stevens
Josh White | Photo by Ron Stevens

Kent State scored two runs in the top of the ninth and overcame a five-run deficit to defeat the Youngstown State baseball team 9-8 on Wednesday afternoon at Eastwood Field.

Youngstown State led Kent State 8-3 after three innings and looked to have a good chance at beating the Golden Flashes for the second time in eight days. Kent State chipped away with three runs in the fifth and one in the sixth before the two-run ninth.

Josh White was 4-for-5 with six RBIs for Youngstown State, and his one out was a hard liner at the third baseman in the eighth. YSU outhit the Golden Flashes 13-12, but 10 of the Penguins' hits came in the first three innings.

Derek Toadvine was 2-for-3 with five run scored and four stolen bases at the top of the lineup for Kent State.

Toadvine singled, stole second and scored later on a ground out in the top of the first to give Kent State a 1-0 lead, and White tied the score with an RBI single in the bottom half. Neil Schroth's one-out double started a stretch of four straight hits for the Penguins, who had a chance for a big inning before a double play with the bases loaded ended the frame. YSU then sent 10 batters to the plate in the second and scored four runs on five hits and two walks to go up 5-1. White had a two-run single in the frame, and the other two runs scored on a passed ball and a bases-loaded balk.

Kent State got two runs back in the top of the third to cut the margin to 5-3, but White hit a three-run double with two outs in the bottom of the inning to put the Penguins on top 8-3.

YSU reliever Lance Horner worked around a one-out walk in a scoreless fourth, but he hit Toadvine to start the fifth and walked Sawyer Polen on four pitches in a prelude to Kent State's rally against the bullpen. Erik Okleson walked Evan Campbell to load the bases, hit George Roberts with a 1-2 pitch and allowed two more runs on an RBI single and a sacrifice fly.

Toadvine walked and scored in the sixth to make the score 8-7, but the Golden Flashes left the bases loaded for the second straight inning. YSU shortstop Phil Lipari made a nice diving stop toward third on an infield single with two outs to save a run and preserve the lead.

Neither team scored in the seventh or eighth innings as YSU got scoreless efforts from Alex Frey and Josh North. Closer Nic Manuppelli came on hoping to earn his seventh save, but the Golden Flashes were able to get two runs on just one hit and two errors off him.

Zarley Zalewski led off the ninth with a single up the middle, and pinch-runner Troy Summers came in and stole second on a play that YSU head coach Steve Gillispie debated for several minutes. Toadvine then hit a grounder up the middle that Manuppelli had a chance to field and attempt to retire Summers, but the ball scooted past the pitcher. Lipari rushed his throw and threw wide, and Kent State had runners at the corners with nobody out. Lipari then booted a ball hit by Polen as the tying run scored, and the eventual winning run came in on a double play.

Kent State closer Brian Clark retired the final batter of the eighth and stayed on to retire the Penguins in order in the ninth to improve his record to 2-2. Manuppelli dropped to 0-2 with the loss.

Youngstown State will play host to Wright State at 11 a.m. on Friday in a special day game for area schools. The Penguins and Raiders will also play at 1 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday at Eastwood Field.