June 9, 2012

Around the Super Regionals

Super Regional Scores & Capsules

Super Regional Notes


Campbell, Flashes Survive Ducks Late Charge

By Taylor Gelbrich



EUGENE, Ore. – Kent State and Oregon threw out their Friday night, senior aces in hopes of taking Game 1 of the Eugene Super Regional Saturday night, but neither pitcher was able to bring his best stuff, which led to an intriguing ball game that ended on a brilliant catch with the game on the line.


The lines for Oregon's Alex Keudell and Kent State's David Starn (pictured) said it all: Starn gave up seven walks, five hits and four earned runs in 6.1 innings, and Keudell allowed six runs (two earned) on nine hits while striking out four in 7.1 innings of work. Oregon didn't have a base hit until the fifth.


The even more interesting part is that Kent State gave Oregon 11 walks and added an extra base runner with an error. Yet, Oregon lost the ball game 7-6 after playing catch up all night to a calmer offensive team in the Golden Flashes.


"I don't ever recall losing a game where the opposition walked us 11 times," Oregon coach George Horton said.


Added Kent State coach Scott Stricklin (left): "It was certainly a hard-fought win. If you would of told me before the game we were going to walk them 11 times and win, I wouldn't believe you. But we made pitches when we needed to, we made plays when we needed to."


It was the difference in the ball game.


Oregon couldn't capitalize on Kent State's handouts, and Kent State took full advantage of everything that the Ducks (45-18) gave them.


Kent State (45-17) took full control of the game early and was able to extend its win streak to 21 games and move one win from its first trip to the College World Series.


The Golden Flashes scored first in the top of the third, scoring both of their runs with two outs – and it began with a little luck.


Evan Campbell started the rally with a line-drive base hit to right center that a diving Vernell Warren couldn't hang onto for the final out. Jimmy Rider brought Campbell in with a base knock to left field to give the Golden Flashes a 1-0 lead.


Then things got a little interesting.


David Lyon put down a two-out bunt down the third-base line; Keudell got there in time, but threw it away down the first-base line. Rider scored all the way from first – just ahead of right fielder Aaron Jones’ perfect throw – and Lyon advanced to second to give the Golden Flashes another scoring threat, but nothing would come of it.


"If you can get a lead, that takes away a little of what they can do,” Stricklin said. “That's the most important thing against Oregon is you got to get a lead. They’re still going to do it, they’re still going to try to chip away, but it does take away a little bit of their aggressiveness in doing that."


The Ducks responded quickly. J.J. Altobelli led the charge with a leadoff walk and moved over on an Aaron Payne sacrifice bunt. Jones stepped to the plate with a big scoring chance for the Ducks after Payne moved over to third on a balk call.


Jones wouldn't get a chance to push the run across as Starn gave him one of his career-high free passes, putting runners on the corners. Oregon's No. 3 hitter, Ryon Healy, brought in a run with a groundout to Rider at shortstop to make it 2-1.


Kent State continued to pile it on against Keudell (11-5), pushing across another in the fourth and finding more luck in the fifth.


"He was a definitely a good pitcher, but we kind of had a game plan coming in and we went over it last night," Campbell said. "We were trying to see the ball up and get fastballs and put good swings on it, and we were able to find some holes."


Campbell found his way on third after an error by Vernell Warren in center to start off the fifth. Then Rider brought in another run with a double and Roberts brought in Rider with a base hit, and the Flashes found themselves up 5-1.


The Ducks kept it interesting after by putting up another run in the bottom of the fifth. Jones led off with a walk, and Healy followed with a base hit up the middle. With runners on the corners and one out, Kyle Garlick hit a sacrifice fly to right, but Healy was nabbed at second after the run scored to end the inning.


The Ducks pushed across one more in the sixth and kept things going in the seventh. Jones led off with a double and moved to third on a Healy ground out to Rider at shortstop. Oregon made it 5-4 on Thomas’ base hit, ending the night for Starn (11-3).


"David Starn has done this, and we have watched him for four years. I can't remember an outing in his career where we didn't have a chance to win when he was pitching," said Stricklin. "As bad as he was today, he still got the win and that's just huge. That's a senior and that's a guy who is very competitive and knows how to get it done.


Kent State put its stamp on the game in the top of the eighth. With two outs and two runners on, Alex Miklos hit a hard line drive off Jimmie Sherfy to a hard-charging Jones in right field, but he misplayed it and it went all the way to the wall and the Golden Flashes scored two more for a 7-4 lead.


Oregon tried to pull some late night magic out in the bottom of the ninth. The Ducks managed to get the game to a 7-6 score after three walks and two base hits. Altobelli stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. He turned and ripped at the first pitch he saw – an inside fastball that he just lit up.


"As you could tell my guys didn't disappear even when it looked very bleak," Horton said. "We had the winning run on second base and had an excellent at-bat and a defender turned it into an out."


Altobelli sent the ball charging into the left-center gap, but a sprinting then leaping Campbell was able to haul it in for the final out in front of a loud 4,177 at PK Park.


"Right off the bat, I thought it was just routine play honestly because the ball wasn't traveling too well tonight and as I kept running it kept carrying and kept going," Campbell said. "Right at the tail end it was close, 50-50.”


The last time Oregon won a series when it lost the first game was way back in the season-opening series against Hawaii. The Ducks have not won a series when it lost the first game since.


Game 2 of the Super Regional will start at 7 p.m. PT on Sunday.


(photos courtesy of Kent State Media Relations Office)