Kent State scored 12 runs in a 12-2 win over Western Michigan, and will now play Akron for the MAC Championship.
AVON, Ohio, -- Good things came in threes for the Kent State Golden Flashes in their semifinal matchup against the Western Michigan Broncos in the 2014 Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament at All-Pro Freight Stadium Saturday.
Down by a run heading into the top of the fifth inning, the Golden Flashes got to Western Michigan starter Steve Laudicina and twice scored three runs in their next three at-bats, en route to a 12-2 win over the eighth-seeded Broncos.
"They made a mistake, and we made the most out of the mistake that was made, the error at third, and really got to them after that," Kent State coach Jeff Duncan said. "It was good to see. We had really good at-bats, especially late. We were able to pull away and take a little bit of the pressure off of ourselves.
"This is my first year as a head coach here, and these guys have been resilient all year. We're getting great pitching performances right now, timely hits and we're playing good defense, and that's why we're here right now."
To start that fifth inning, second baseman Justin Wagler reached on fielding error, as Western Michigan's third baseman, Grant Miller, let the ball shoot past his glove and into the left-field bullpen. Then, after a strikeout, Kent State third baseman Curtis Olvey earned a walk after forcing a full count.
Beckner followed with a triple to right field that scored Wagler and Olvey. Beckner came around to score on first baseman Cody Koch's single to right-center field.
Then, after the Broncos drew to within a run with an RBI fielder's choice from designated hitter Theo Piccirilli, the Golden Flashes went back to work offensively in the seventh inning.
With one out, center fielder Jon Wilson singled to third base and went to second on a throwing error from Miller. Koch singled in Wilson, and then, Kent State designated hitter Zarley Zalewski followed when he singled to the pitcher. Both Wilson and Zalewski came in to score on T.J. Sutton's double to right-center field.
The Golden Flashes built onto their lead with two more runs in the top of the eighth inning, as Wilson drove in Olvey with a single and Beckner came in on a wild pitch.
Wilson then brought around two more when he singled home Olvey and catcher Jeff Revesz with two outs in the ninth inning. Wilson later came around on Koch's sharply-hit single through the hole at shortstop, and pinch hitter Conner Simonetti singled home left fielder Troy Summers for the final tally of the game.
"Obviously, it was a little bit of luck," Wilson said of his three RBI day. "That never hurts, but I was just trying to stay back more. It seemed like their first guy had a ton of good stuff. Even though he threw a lot a couple days ago, he still had his stuff, and it was working. His slider was giving me fits."
With the victory over Western Michigan, the Golden Flashes have now won four straight games, and will face their arch rivals, The University of Akron Zips, whom they beat two times, including a 19-0 decision, last weekend in Kent.
Even though both teams sailed through the tournament undefeated, Sunday's meeting is a winner-take-all MAC Championship Game.
"That's a dream come true to play Akron," Wilson said. "It's an awesome opportunity. Did we ever think it was going to happen? I don't know. Some people might have because Akron's been hot lately, but it'll be nice to go out and get them again. They're going to be as fired up to play us. It's a Kent-Akron game.
"You just want to go out there and settle it on the field in just one game. I couldn't have predicted that to happen. I knew we were going to be here, but I couldn't predict that they were going to go undefeated and we'd both be undefeated at the same time. This is awesome for the fans, and even for the players. Kent-Akron, one game settles it all? In baseball, that's an awesome opportunity, so we'll see what happens."