May 26, 2001
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kent State leftfielder Eric O’Brien hit a homerun to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning to break a tie ballgame and give the Golden Flashes a 9-8 win in game three of the NCAA Baseball Columbus Regional. The elimination game was held this afternoon in front of 1,381 fans at Bill Davis Stadium.
Fourth-seeded Kent State (31-29) advances to play the loser of the Delaware-Mississippi State game at 7:05 tonight. With the loss, No. 2-seed Ohio State is eliminated from the tournament. The Buckeyes end the season with a record of 43-18.
Reliever Chris White recorded the win for the Golden Flashes. He went 3.1 innings, allowing four hits and one earned run. Greg Prenger took the loss in relief for Ohio State. He pitched 3.2 innings, allowing two hits and two earned runs, and striking out four.
Kent State starter Dirk Hayhurst pitched 5.0 innings, allowing five runs, including four earned, and giving up six hits. Ohio State starter Kevin Goodrum went 4.1 innings. He allowed seven runs, all earned, on nine hits.
The Golden Flashes posted the first runs of the game in the bottom of the second, taking a 2-0 lead. Centerfielder Dave Mattle led off Kent’s half of the inning with a single that was followed by an infield hit by rightfielder Tom Martin. OSU pitcher Goodrum walked third baseman Phil LoCascio to load the bases. Pat O’Brien, the catcher, then hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Mattle from third. Martin was caught stealing, allowing O’Brien to move over to third. Designated hitter Brady Glass then got a check-swing single up the left side of the infield to bring O’Brien home.
Kent tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the third. Eric O’Brien was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Second baseman Chris Welsch followed with a single up the middle. John VanBenschoten, the first baseman, then hit a double to right-center that drove in two runs. The Buckeyes got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Rightfielder Doug Deeds led off with a single to right. He moved to second on an error by the pitcher on a throw to first base and went to third on a wild pitch by Hayhurst. Third baseman John Mayor hit a fly ball to center for the second out of the inning, allowing Deeds to score from third.
Kent added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth. VanBenschoten started the half-inning with a walk. Mattle doubled off the base of the centerfield wall, scoring VanBenschoten from first. Martin singled to left, moving Mattle to third. LoCascio hit into a fielder’s choice, scoring Mattle from third and taking Martin off the basepaths with the force at second. Greg Prenger then came in to relieve OSU starter Goodrum. After getting Pat O’Brien to fly out, Prenger gave up a two-run homerun to Glass to put the Flashes up, 8-1.
Ohio State answered in the top of the sixth, tallying six runs to pull within one (8-7) as it sent 10 batters to the plate. Doug Dendinger led off the inning with a double, followed with a walk by centerfielder Nick Swisher. Deeds recorded his 14th home run of the season, putting the ball over the left-field wall, to make the score 8-4. After a walk to Mayor, Ben Galbreath came on to pitch in relief of Hayhurst for Kent. Leftfielder Christian Snavely had a single and then went to second on an error by Kent leftfielder Eric O’Brien. Catcher Joe Wilkins struck out before pinch-hitter Lance Rolston came through with a two-run single. With Rolston on third, second baseman Mike Check singled to left to score Rolston and get Ohio State within one.
The Buckeyes tied the game at eight in the top of the seventh. After Swisher flied out to start the inning, Deeds and Mayor singled and Steve Caravati, pinch-hititng for Snavely, walked to load the bases. Wilkins flied out to right, allowing Deeds to score and tie the game. Eric O’Brien won the game for the Golden Flashes with a homerun off the scoreboard in rightfield to lead off the bottom of the ninth. OSU pitcher Prenger had retired 10-consecutive Golden Flashes before O’Brien hit the game-winning homer.
Ohio State head coach Bob Todd
“It’s a frustrating day and weekend for us to lose two one-run ballgames. Early in the game we didn’t have anything go our way. That’s not an excuse. I congratulate Kent. But it seemed like we couldn’t get things going. I’m proud of the way we battled back and tied. We have to find ways to make things go our way. We didn’t do that today.
“I appreciate our fans staying with us. The last 10 days are not indicative of our team.”
Kent head coach Rick Rembielak
“Again today things started getting away from us. But after a couple of base hits and runs we did damage control. It’s exactly like the MAC tournament. Guys pick things up and Eric O’Brien is on top of the order for a reason. But anyone of our guys could have done it. We kept ourselves in the game and kept it close. As long as we kept ourselves in, we knew we would have a chance.”