FAIRBORN — The temperature may have been barely above freezing, Wednesday afternoon when Wright State University’s baseball team hosted perennial Mid-American Conference powerhouse Kent State, but manager Greg Lovelady wasn’t using that as an excuse.
“It’s frustrating when you lose like that, but we gave away some innings there in the middle, and we didn’t do the little things,” Lovelady said, moments after the Golden Flashes rallied to an eventual 9-7 win in 12 innings. “We didn’t play good enough defense at times (four errors) and that cost us some runs, we missed some signs offensively and that cost us some runs. Even missing the cut-off man (which led to a late KSU run) … It is frustrating to let one get away, especially against a team like Kent State that has a really good program.”
Wright State (12-11) had won its last nine games inside Nischwitz Stadium. The team’s only loss during that 19-day span was a road loss to the University of Cincinnati.
Kent State (13-9) jumped out in front in the top of the first inning on Justin Wagler’s two-run home run to left field.
But Wright State countered with five runs of its own in the inning.
First, Brad Macciocchi drew a lead-off walk and Joe Ford singled to left. Andrew McCafferty then advanced the runners on a high bouncing groundout to first base, then Michael Timm drove both runners home with a liner into center field. Kieston Greene then singled to left before Sean Murphy bashed a h0me run over the left field wall to give the Raiders a 5-2 lead.
The Golden Flashes scored runs in the second and fifth to pull within 5-4 of Wright State, but Timm and Greene scored on Greene’s single to left, then John Brodner’s sacrifice bunt to go back ahead, 7-4.
Kent State scored three runs on three hits in the eighth inning, then a Cody Koch single scored Wagler with the go-ahead run. The Mid-American Conference’s leading batter Zarley Zalewski was hit by a pitch, advanced on Koch’s single, raced to third on Wright State’s fourth error of the game, and scored on T.J. Sutton’s sacrifice to left.
Zalewski entered the game with a MAC-leading .462 batting average, 56 hits and .506 on-base percentage.
“That was a heckuva resilient win from our guys,” said KSU coach Jeff Duncan. “… It took us a while to get back in it, but we clawed our way back to notch things up in the eighth inning. That was the difference for us: Our bullpen sustained them and our offense really picked it up late in the game.”
Timm led Wright State with a 3-for-5 batting performance, with a walk and two runs scored.
The Raiders had the tying runs on base in the bottom of the 12th, but Kent’s Spencer Bryant retired the final two batters to end the game.
A total of 15 pitchers took to the mound. Kent State sent seven to the hill while Wright State sent eight. Dan Kopcak was credited with the pitching win, and Bryant was credited with the save. Jacob Burk picked up the loss for Wright State.
The Raiders will now embark on a 10-game road trip, starting with a noon showdown with Horizon League foe Youngstown State. The first game, which will be played in Butler, Pa. at Kelly Automotive Park, will take place on Friday, followed by single games in Niles, Ohio (just outside Youngstown) on Saturday and Sunday.