April 5, 2009
Kent, Ohio - In a game that featured six multiple run innings, 22 runs, 23 hits, and five lead changes, Kent State ended up on top with a walk-off grand slam by Travis Shaw in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat Northern Illinois 13-9 on Sunday afternoon at Schoonover Stadium in a Mid-American Conference contest, completing a three-game series sweep.
"Our guys came out and hit the ball hard today," said NIU head coach Ed Mathey. "I was proud of that, but we didn't get it done as far as winning. The story of today's game is that we gave away too many runs defensively. Both teams came out and played hard. Both teams swung the bats well. We had two teams battling as they were trying to get the sweep and we were trying to prevent it. It was an exciting game that wasn't very clean at times, but when you have the last at-bat, you have an advantage in this type of game with all the lead changes."
The Golden Flashes (21-6, 7-1 MAC) set up their decisive ninth by scoring two in the eighth on a two-out two-run single by Greg Rohan that knotted the game, 9-9. Then in the ninth, Ben Klafczynski started the inning by reaching on an error by second baseman Joe Buonavolanto (Willowbrook, Ill./Hinsdale South). Zach Oates (Wheaton, Ill./North) then replaced Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) on the mound and gave up a single to Jared Humphreys that created a first and third situation, forcing an intentional walk to the next batter Jason Patton that set up pinch-hitter Travis Shaw's game-winner.
"The plan was to throw him pitches down in the zone for a grounder," said Mathey. "Zach Oates fell behind 2-0 in the count though and Shaw got a pitch that was elevated. He executed well with getting the ball up in the air.
"Unfortunately, that didn't cost us as much as the inning before that did. Their three hitter Gallas hit a foul out and Behm made a good throw to third to try to get Tremblay, who was tagging up, but his slide forced the ball to trickle out. That should have been the final out of the inning."
Jon Pokorny (2-2) earned the win after pitching the final 1.2 innings, while giving up just a walk and recording four strikeouts. Zelasko (2-2) took the loss after allowing an earned run on two hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. KSU starter Kyle Hallock lasted 3.2 innings, surrendering three earned runs on three hits and four walks with a strikeout. NIU (11-17, 4-4 MAC) starter Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) went four innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits and a walk along with three strikeouts.
The KSU offense was headed by Chris Tremblay, Rohan and Humphreys. Tremblay went 3-for-5 with three runs, a stolen base, and two RBI. Rohan went 2-for-5 with a double and three RBI. Humphreys went 3-for-5 with two runs and three hits. Jimmy Rider also added two hits, a stolen base, and two runs.
Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) led the Huskie offense with a 2-for-4 performance, two runs, two RBI, and his fourth homerun of the year that gives him the team lead in homers. Nick Badgley (McHenry, Ill./McHenry C.C.) tied a career-best two hits and scored a run. Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper) had two hits, a run and an RBI. Buonavolanto had a double and a walk with a run and two RBI. Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross) and Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) had a hit, a run and an RBI apiece as well.
The Golden Flashes once again jumped out to an early lead as they had done in the previous two games of the series by taking advantage of an error by Buonavolanto on the first play of the game that allowed Tremblay to reach first base. A one-out double to left field by Rohan then scored Tremblay.
NIU countered in the second by scoring three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North) led off with a walk and Behren followed with a double down the left field line. Behm then scored and Behren moved to third on a wild pitch by Hallock. White came through with an RBI single to left-center on the next play. After Nick Morreale (Vernon Hills, Ill./Mesa AZ C.C.) struck out swinging, Badgley and Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) were both hit by pitches to load the bases for Jones, who flew out to center for an RBI sacrifice fly.
The Golden Flashes responded with another run in the second. Humphreys and Ryan Mitchell started the frame with back-to-back singles, and then Cory Hindel's sacrifice bunt set up Tremblay, who singled to center to drive in Humphreys.
The Huskies answered again with two more runs in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead. Both runs came on a two-out double to left-center by Buonavolanto that scored Badgley, who reached on an error, and Minogue, who reached on a walk.
KSU came back in the bottom of the fourth with another big inning, scoring four runs to grab a 6-5 advantage. With two outs and Klafczynski on first and Mitchell on second, Tremblay singled up the middle to score the first run. Rider followed with another single to right and Mitchell scored on a throwing error by right fielder Badgley. After a double steal put runners Rider on second and Tremblay on third, Anthony Gallas singled to right to plate both runners.
NIU retaliated in the sixth with three runs to reclaim the lead, 8-6. The first three runners reached base as Jones double to left-center, Buonavolanto walked, and Hood doubled to center to score Jones. A balk by Brett Weibly then allowed Buonavolanto to score and Hood to move to third. After Behm struck out looking, David Starn replaced Weibley to face Behren, who flew out to left-center for an RBI sacrifice fly.
The Golden Flashes pulled back within one run in the seventh after a wild pitch by Zelasko allowed Klafczynski to score, but Hood got the run back in the eighth with a solo homerun to left-center off Justin Gill.
NIU travels to Normal, Ill. on Tuesday to face intrastate rival Illinois State (13-8, 4-2 Missouri Valley Conference) at 6 p.m. CT at Duffy Bass Field.
- NIU has had a player get multiple hits in 25 of its 28 games, led by Jordin Hood's 13.
- The Huskies tallied 10 hits in a game for the 16th time this year.