Kent State starting pitcher Eric Lauer and Liberty starting pitcher Evan Mitchell locked up in a pitchers’ duel throughout the contest, with the Flames held in check until the bottom of the ninth.
Lauer retired 17 straight Liberty batters until left fielder D.J. Artis singled back through the middle of the infield with one out and moved to third on a double by right fielder Will Shepherd. Golden Flashes reliever Zach Willeman then walked designated hitter Andrew Yacyk to load the bases.
Liberty second baseman Andrew Kowalo followed with a grounder to second. After Kent State retired the runner at second, a controversial runner’s inference was called on the attempt to turn the double play to end the rally and seal the 2-0 win.
The setback halts Liberty’s winning streak at a season-long five games. The Flames fall to 12-7 on the season. Kent State improves to 11-4.
Liberty’s Mitchell pitched a complete game for the second straight week. Last Friday, the Lynchburg, Va., native went the distance in a 5-1 victory over Central Connecticut State.
The right-hander allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits. He struck out a career-high eight and walked two batters.
Kent State’s Lauer moves to 3-1 on the year. The left-hander pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings, before giving way to Willeman. Lauer struck out a career-high 13 and walked one batter.
Willeman walked one, before retiring the final two outs to record his fourth save of the season.
Visiting Kent State took a 1-0 edge in the contest’s opening inning. Center fielder Mason Mamarella walked and moved to second on an errant pickoff attempt by Mitchell. After moving to third on a groundout, Mamerella scored on a grounder to second by right fielder Luke Burch for an early lead.
First baseman Zarley Zalewski added to the Golden Flashes’ advantage in the fourth. Leading off the inning, Zalewski hit his fourth home of the year to make it, 2-0, Kent State.
Mitchell went on to retire the next nine batters until a leadoff single in the seventh.
Kent State had four hits in the contest. Liberty collected three and committed two errors. Artis had two of the Flames’ four hits in the game.
The Flames and Golden Flashes will meet again in a doubleheader, tomorrow at Liberty Baseball Stadium. First pitch for game one is scheduled for noon, with the second game approximately 30 minutes after.