The Kent State Golden Flashes returned home after a trip nobody thought was possible. For a cold weather MAC team to play baseball in Omaha in June. The Flashes showed the country they were no fluke, sending the top seed Florida Gators home packing Monday. And they returned to campus with a hero's welcome waiting for them.
The Flashes played tough and didn't back down from anybody, but ran straight into a hot Michael Roth (regarded as one of the hottest pitchers in college ball) who pitched a two hitter, giving up one run in nine innings. Roth mowed down the final 22 batters he faced. The win puts Roth's record at 9-1 2.49. The Gamecocks were scheduled to start Jordan Montgomery but the rain delay allowed Roth to gain another day's rest, making him ready to go against Kent.
“I was able to hit the strike zone with pretty much every pitch I threw,” said Roth, drafted in the ninth round by the Anaheim Angels earlier this month. “I didn’t have any walks. When there aren’t baserunners, you can stay on that roll, which I really haven’t been able to get into this season much.”
The Flashes Cinderella season ends with a 47-20 record, and senior third baseman Jimmy Rider earning Baseball America's First Team All American honors. Along the way, they got the nation's attention, and won over a lot of new fans. And to top it off for hometown fans, the team is made up primarily with local talent. 27 of their 34 players are from Ohio, 21 from northeast Ohio.
“Michael Roth, he’s the best pitcher in college baseball,” Kent coach Scott Stricklin said. “I’ve loved watching him on TV for the last three years, but I absolutely hated watching him today. He carved our guys up.”
Stricklin spoke about what he said to the tam after the game. “It was tough. I always promise myself when the year’s over I’m not going to choke up, I said, ‘Only one team gets to win their last game and we were one of five left standing.’ No one expected it. When no one expects you to do anything and you do it and you overachieve, it’s such a satisfying feeling.”
Next up for the program, resigning Scott Stricklin. Michigan is the school believed to be working the hardest to lure Stricklin away. There are no reports of what Michigan is offering, but this season his base salary was $145,000 which could top $200,000 with incentives. “I’m at my alma mater. I met my wife here, we’ve raised a family here. We love Kent State,” Stricklin said, addressing the rumors. “I love Kent State University. You never know what’s going to happen. You never say never.”
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