Kent State fends off Oregon rally
Golden Flashes’ Campbell seals win with diving catch in ninth
EUGENE, Ore. -- Jimmy Rider set a school record with his 100th hit of the season and drove in two runs as Kent State extended its winning streak to 21 games with a 7-6 victory against Oregon in game one of the Eugene Super Regional.
David Starn scattered four runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings for the Golden Flashes (45-17), who are making their first appearance in a super regional.
Oregon, the No. 5 national seed, rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth but couldn't overcome earlier mistakes. Alex Keudell allowed two earned runs and nine hits in 7 1/3 innings for the Ducks (45-18).
The Golden Flashes went up 2-0 in the third inning. Evan Campbell doubled with two outs and scored on Rider's single to left. Rider scored when Keudell misplayed David Lyon's bunt.
Rider's RBI single was his 100th hit this season, breaking the Kent State record of 99 held by John VanBenschoten (2001) and Anthony Gallas (2010).
The Ducks narrowed it in the bottom half when J.J. Altobelli scored on Ryon Healey's grounder.
Kent State added a run in the fourth when Sawyer Polen's one-out single scored T.J. Sutton, who led off the inning with a double.
Starn walked three to load the bases with two outs in the fourth, and it appeared that he hit Aaron Payne to bring in an Oregon run. But the home plate umpire ruled that Payne didn't get out of the way, and Starn struck him out to end the threat.
The Golden Flashes padded their lead in the fifth on Rider's RBI double and Sutton's sacrifice fly. But Kyle Garlick's sacrifice fly in the bottom half narrowed it to 5-2.
Altobelli's RBI double in the sixth got the Ducks closer and Brett Thomas added a run-scoring single to left to make it 5-4 in the seventh.
But the Golden Flashes added two runs in the eighth when Alex Miklos' shot to right was misplayed by outfielder Aaron Jones, scoring Polen and Sutton.
Trailing 7-4, Oregon nearly pulled off the comeback in the bottom of the ninth.
Kent State's Brian Clark loaded the bases with no outs before he was pulled in favor of Josh Pierce, who struck out Garlick. Ryan Hambright's sacrifice fly to left scored Jones and Pierce walked Brett Hambright to re-load the bases.
Pinch-hitter Andre Mendenhall walked to narrow it to 7-6, but Altobelli's fly ball to center was snagged by a diving Campbell to end the game.