Imagine your worst fears now multiply it by seven.
That’s what Kennesaw State’s senior pitcher, Kevin Kyle, faced in his last start on May 18th. The Atlanta, Ga., native squared off with Lipscomb in the team’s regular-season series finale with postseason implications on the line.
Kyle faced seven batters in the opening inning. All seven tallied hits. Seven crossed the plate; all of which were credited to his final line. His 37-pitch outing initiated a 16-6 victory for Lipscomb in game two of the series which eventually resulted in the Owls being swept on the final day with a 4-3 loss in the second game of the doubleheader.
“That was a rough outing for me,” Kyle bluntly said of his nightmare start. “I think it kind of goes without saying that it’s not a good feeling not to get an out when you are the starter but the positive that came from that is I had a lot to make up for and had just a little chip on my shoulder today.”
The three-game sweep at the hands of the Bisons dropped KSU to the No. 7 seed in the A-Sun Baseball Championship, which possibly put the Owls as an afterthought when looking at the title contenders in play this week.
“We came in as the seven seed and we’ve been back and forth all year with our offense and pitching,” Kyle continued. “I’m not sure many people really expect much out of us in this tournament, but I’m just so proud of the guys. We have just kept battling, kept our heads down and just fought through adversity.”
Saturday served as a redemption day for Kyle as he took the mound against the same team that nearly increased his ERA by a whole run.
The Melching Field mound was the perfect place for Kyle to earn his revenge as he hurled a complete-game four-hit shutout earlier in the season against Stetson. Even last season, Kyle shined on the Hatters’ home field with an seven-inning outing where he allowed only five hits and no earned runs in a 3-1 win vs. Belmont on day two of the championship to help the Owls reach the championship final for the first time in program history.
A shaky start began with a hit batter and single to third before a sacrifice bunt secured the first out of the inning. However, a wild pitch pushed runners to scoring position and was followed by Tyson Ashcraft’s two-run single putting Kyle and the Owls in a two-run deficit in an elimination game at the conference tournament.
The Owls and Kyle shook off the cob webs of the opening inning as the scoreboard saw zeros posted in each half-inning frame until the top of the seventh when Kennesaw State recorded four hits, four runs and 10 batters came to the plate.
“This conference is so strong that sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen,” KSU Head Coach Mike Sansing said of the game’s opening frame. “Our guys have played well and battled last night and we did the same today. We had the seventh inning with the four runs and our pitcher was able to hold onto it.”
The big inning allowed KSU to walk away with a 4-2 victory as Kevin Kyle pushed his season record to 7-7 and more importantly advanced the Owls to Saturday night’s 5 p.m. match-up against North Florida.
Sansing knew that Kyle and the Owls would be ready to go on Saturday morning as he has seen several great performances from Kyle all season.
“His history showed us he would be ready, he has pitched well all year for us. He is a strike thrower and sometimes you just run into some adversity, but he did well today.”