OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Kent State knows it faces a daunting task to make its first appearance in the College World Series last much longer.
An 8-1 loss to Arkansas on Saturday leaves the Golden Flashes fighting for survival in a bracket that includes two-time defending national champion South Carolina, No. 1 national seed Florida and a Razorbacks team that just beat them.
Kent State coach Scott Stricklin offered a simple message to his players after DJ Baxendale and Brandon Moore combined on a four-hitter against them Saturday.
"Get it out of your mind. Get ready to play on Monday night again in Omaha, Neb.," Stricklin said. "Our kids are thrilled to be here. But that's thing we've got to make sure that we're not just happy to be here. We want to compete and get some wins and make a run at it. It's still possible."
Baxendale didn't allow a hit until Sawyer Polen's infield single with two out in the fifth. He held the Flashes (46-19) scoreless until Jimmy Rider homered in the sixth.
Arkansas (45-20) broke open the game on Matt Vinson's two-run double that made it 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth.
Baxendale (8-5) allowed just three hits, giving way to Moore with one out in the seventh. He struck out five and walked one.
"DJ Baxendale was outstanding," Stricklin said. "He kept us off balance. His fastball was sharp and he throws the breaking ball when he's behind in the count. He really competes."
Kent State starter David Starn (11-4) walked three of the first four batters he faced and left after Vinson's two-out double in the sixth.
Starn threw 24 pitches in the first inning, just eight for strikes, and walked the bases loaded before Brian Anderson's hard liner up the middle knocked off the pitcher's glove and brought home the first run. An inning-ending double play let Starn escape further damage.
"It was basically just a flaw in my mechanics," Starn said. "I wasn't really finishing my pitches. And I was leaving them arm-side, and that's basically what happened with the control issues and everything."