#19 Kent State Baseball Preview

Kent State Golden Flashes

Overall Rank: #19
Conference Rank: #1 MAC
Kent State College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
Kent State Team Page


To hear everyone talk, last year was a year where the Kent State baseball program put it all together. That is partially true. The Golden Flashes have been Mid-American Conference powerhouses for years, including 11 MAC titles between 1964 and last season. Last year was different because, in addition to the MAC title, the postseason tournament championship and a berth in the NCAA tournament, Kent State reached the College World Series for the first time in school history. Last season was also noted for two wins over Kentucky in the NCAA tournament, one of which came in a 21-inning marathon, and for a Super Regional upset of baseball power Oregon.

2012: 47-20, 24-3
2012 Postseason: College World Series
Coach: Scott Stricklin

Field Players:
Three of Kent State’s top five hitters are back, led by George Roberts (.364-8-66), who banged out 96 hits as Kent State nearly hit the 50-win barrier. Roberts returns for his final season of college ball. Also back are Evan Campbell (.312-7-40) and T.J. Sutton (.300-3-30). The Golden Flashes lost almost one-sixth of their run support when Jimmy Rider, who scored 70 times last year, graduated. David Lyon, the team’s top homer hitter a year ago (10), also left the team along with Nick Hamilton, who hit .337 a season ago. The good news is sophomore Tommy Monnot (.324 in 33 games) returns to the lineup and should see more playing time. Rider and Lyon’s graduations left the team missing over a third of its homer output from last year, but Kent State should have plenty of power to go with some speed. Troy Summers, a redshirt junior this season, only hit .217 in 2012 but stole 20 bases in 25 attempts.

The graduation of pitcher David Starn hit the team closely, especially on the heels of pitcher David Bores’ 26th-round selection in last year’s MLB draft. The moves leave Kent State without nearly one half of the victories posted last season, so Tyler Skulina (11-3, 3.77 ERA) will fill in the slack created by their departures. Skulina’s ratio is fairly solid (45 walks, 106 strikeouts), so he should be a steady No. 1 pitcher. What’s left of the pitching rotation is a collection of hurlers that mainly came to the mound in relief appearances, like Tim Faix (1-0, 1.98 in seven appearances) and Brian Clark (5-0, 2.08 in 22 appearances). Michael Clark (3-4, 5.40) struck out 48 and walked 29, so the team may need to call on him for backup and support if things break down.

Who to Watch:
Keep an eye on the team’s relief corps, as it might be the indicator whether the Golden Flashes will be a force once again or retreat into the background. Of the five relievers to earn saves last year, only one (Ryan Mace) is gone and he had the highest ERA of the bunch. Faix, Brian Clark and fellow pitchers Josh Pierce and Eric Dorsch will help bring some saves to the rotation as it develops a new set of go-to players.

Final Projection:
Pitching remains the team’s question mark. If it can overcome Starn and Bores’ exits, then Kent State should make another deep run into the season. The Golden Flashes will have a target on their backs, mainly because they were not expected to knock off teams like Oregon and Kentucky, but knock them off Kent State did. If the team can tear through the MAC schedule one more time and finish with at least 20 conference victories, it should be a contender for a tournament bid whether or not it wins the league.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:

At Bats: Evan Campbell, IF, 279
Hits: George Roberts, IF, 96
Home Runs: George Roberts, IF, 8
RBIs: George Roberts, IF, 66
Runs: Evan Campbell, IF, 61
Stolen Bases: Troy Summers, OF, 20

Wins: Tyler Skulina, P, 11
Innings Pitched: Tyler Skulina, P, 107.1
Strikeouts: Tyler Skulina, P, 106
Saves: Casey Wilson, P, 7

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#89 Tyler Skulina


See All Baseball Top 44 Team Previews