After a 5-0 loss to Kent State on Sunday, the Eastern Michigan Eagles lined up on the far corner of Oestrike Stadium and began sprinting back-and-forth, a clear indicator the defeat wasn’t exactly an ordinary loss.
“We had no energy and no passion to play,” coach Jay Alexander said. “It was like we all went out last night and forget we had a game today. I’m very disappointed in my team. These kids have got to want to play, and sometimes it feels like we don’t, which is the scary part about it.”
First baseman Todd Graves said the postgame wind sprints aren’t necessarily part of the conditioning program.
“No, not always,” he said. “But, especially in a huge game like that, to come out flat against a good opponent when you have a chance to win a series – it’s something we can’t do. It teaches us that we have to come out and we can’t be flat. It’s something we need to work on.”
Kent State (18-16, 6-3 Mid-American Conference) scored in the first inning against Collin Taylor (2-4) when Anthony Gallas singled to right to drive in Travis Shaw to make it 1-0.
EMU tried to answer in the third when Bo Kinder picked up a single and then advanced to second after a Ben Magsig sacrifice bunt. Graves then hit a single to left, but Kinder was called out at home on a play Alexander was quick to dispute with plate umpire Sal Giacomontonio.
“I’m sure it hurt us,” Alexander said. “Because it’s hard for us to score runs, and I knew that. So, I’m going to take more chances. I thought he was safe, the whole team thought he was safe, but you know what, the umpire makes the call and you’ve just got to live with it. But, that definitely didn’t help us at all.”
That was as close as EMU (14-18, 5-4) would get as it ended with four hits on the day, three of those coming against Kyle Hallock (3-2). The lefty pitched seven shutout innings ceding three hits and striking out six.
“He was lights out,” Alexander said.
Kent State added two more runs in the fourth and one in the seventh when Ben Klafczynski scored on a Jimmy Rider sacrifice fly to make it 5-0.
Kyle McMillen then threw two innings of one-hit ball to close out the game.
One of EMU’s four hits on the day came courtesy of Graves, who had the most success against Hallock. He also had two walks.
“I was seeing the ball pretty well today,” Graves said. “I didn’t get too anxious, tried to stay back. When he put something over the plate, I saw it pretty well and hit it.”
Alexander has talked in the past about the Eagles coming out flat, and Graves isn’t exactly sure why.
“I don’t know. It’s something we have to figure out.”
But he does have one theory:
“I think we’re still trying to find ourselves,” he said. “We’re a very talented team, but everyone needs to come back and be confident in what they can do and not press. I think a lot of guys are pressing, and we know we’re a talented team, but when it’s not producing for you, you press a little bit. So, I think when everyone relaxes it will all come around.”
EMU’s next contest has it traveling to Rochester to play Oakland University (5-18) Wednesday at 3 p.m.
“They can beat us too, just like everybody else,” Alexander said. “So, there’s a game we should go ahead and go after really hard, but if we don’t the same result is going to happen.”