Eric Lauer is returning home for the MAC Tournament.
The freshman left-hander leads Kent State into All Pro Freight Stadium for the tourney that begins today at 9:30 a.m. Lauer and the Flashes will be joined by other Lorain County alumni and seven other teams trying to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament.
“It’s nice knowing that I’ll be close to home and that it won’t be a struggle for anyone who wants to come see me,” said Lauer, a Midview graduate. “It will be a lot more relaxed for me just being in a place I know and have played in before.”
The Golden Flashes play in the second of four games today, against Bowling Green, scheduled for a 1 p.m. first pitch.
Lauer (7-4) has certainly made his mark at Kent State in his first season. He has the most wins, is tied for the most starts with 13 and sports a 3.48 ERA while throwing the second-most innings (72.1) and striking out 59.
He is joined by two other locals: Elyria graduate sophomore Jacob Neuschaefer is hitting .233 in 26 games and nine starts, and junior Josh Pierce — an Avon graduate — has an 0-2 record with a 4.70 ERA in 15 appearances.
Lauer said the biggest difference between college and high school are the speed and the competition — which has pushed him to work harder so he doesn’t fall behind. The biggest area he needed to improve was his situational awareness, knowing what pitches to throw in certain counts and staying aware of whom he is facing.
“It’s not just throw the ball anymore,” Lauer said. “I’ve got to know what kind of batter I’ve got and what kind of pitches they like and what kind they don’t.”
Despite being selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 17th round with the 505th pick of the 2013 MLB Draft — and entertaining offers from teams willing to draft him in the first round — Lauer decided to hone his craft at Kent State. He’s majoring in finance, but retains his MLB ambitions.
“I don’t have any regrets about it,” Lauer said. “I feel like I wouldn’t be as comfortable there as I am here with how young I am. I feel like I’m in a pretty good position with everything.”
- Bowling Green baseball also features a local player: senior Andrew Kubuski. The Elyria Catholic graduate is hitting .291 with 19 runs scored and 10 RBIs in 36 games with 33 starts.
- Junior Neal Jacobs and Central Michigan take on Akron in Game 4 of the MAC Tournament, scheduled for 8 p.m. The Avon resident and St. Ignatius graduate is hitting .204 with 27 starts in 37 games. He has nine runs, two doubles, a triple and eight RBIs.
- Freshman Griffin Weir has a 3.12 ERA for Stanford in nine relief appearances. The Amherst grad has allowed just eight hits and three earned runs, walked six and struck out four in 8⅔ innings.
- Oberlin junior Ryan Bliss was selected to the All-North Coast Athletic Conference team. The Wellington graduate was an honorable mention after batting .352 and tying for second in runs scored with 26.
- Butler junior second baseman Kristen Boros earned first-team All-Big East softball honors. The Elyria graduate started all 52 games, hitting .286 with nine doubles, three home runs, 25 RBIs and a triple. She led the team in hits (26) and runs (28) and tied in home runs.
- Baldwin Wallace junior Mackenzie Brua was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III All-Central Region team. The Avon graduate, and first-team All-Ohio Athletic Conference first baseman, earned second-team honors with a .344 batting average and career highs with 10 doubles, nine home runs and 36 runs.
- Kent State junior Kim Kirkpatrick scored a run and got a hit against Ohio in the MAC Tournament opener May 7, a 2-1 loss. The Olmsted Falls graduate was second on the team in runs (31) and led the Golden Flashes in doubles (12). Kent State defeated Miami 4-1 on May 8 before being eliminated by Central Michigan 3-1 on May 9.
- Keystone graduates MacKenzie Conrad and Erin Pond and the Akron Zips went two-and-out in the MAC Tournament. The Zips lost to Central Michigan 2-0 in the opener and were eliminated by Northern Illinois 6-1. Conrad did not play, while Pond went 1-for-5.
- Cleveland State went 0-2 at the Horizon League Tournament, losing to Youngstown State 3-2 and Wright State 6-5. Elyria graduate Cynthia Woodard had three hits and drove in a run against Wright State. Keystone graduate Alyson Broschk went 0-for-6 in the tournament.
- Fellow Elyria graduate Caitlyn Minney did not make an appearance for Youngstown State against the Vikings, but the freshman pitched 2⅓ innings of relief during the Penguins’ second-round 5-2 loss to Green Bay. Minney stepped in after starter Casey Crozier gave up four earned runs, and limited the Panthers to an earned run, a walk and four hits while notching a strikeout. UIC eliminated Youngstown State 3-2 on May 8.
- Coppin State sophomore Alyssa Barker pitched her 18th complete game of the season against Delaware State, but the Eagles lost 5-2 and were eliminated from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Tournament. The Elyria graduate finished with a 4.30 ERA and a 10-17 record with 48 strikeouts in 143⅓ innings.
- Purdue junior MacKenzie Tweardy placed seventh in the 10-meter individual platform competition for USA Diving at the FINA Grand Prix Canada Cup. The Elyria Catholic graduate scored 328.35 and missed the finals by one spot.
- Memphis junior Dan Kuhman placed fourth in the 10,000 meters at the American Athletic Conference track and field championships May 2-4. The Elyria Catholic graduate clocked 31:28.93.
- Calvin freshman Cassie Vince did her part in helping the Knights win their 25th straight Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title. The Amherst graduate placed first in the 5,000 meters in 17:32.71.
- Ohio Wesleyan won the NCAC women’s track and field championship thanks to contributions from a number of local athletes. Junior Karli Sturgill, a Keystone graduate, won the javelin throw (125-11) and finished seventh in the pole vault (9-6.25).
- Sophomore Sarah Alflen — an Avon Lake graduate — finished second in the hammer throw (156-08), fourth in the discus (111-01) and sixth in the shot put (38-00.25).
- Junior Midview graduate Alexa Katrinchak finished eighth in the javelin (92-10).
- Ashland junior Zac Ball of Firelands placed fourth in the hammer throw (197-0) at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championships.
- Ithaca junior Alexa Rick placed third in the 5,000 meters at the New York State Collegiate Track Conference championships. The Elyria Catholic graduate clocked 17:55.68.
- Kent State senior Kyle Kmiecik bounced back from a poor start at the NCAA Division I regional last week. The Avon resident and St. Ignatius graduate shot 74 after opening with rounds of 84 and 79. The Golden Flashes finished seventh and did not qualify for the NCAA Championships. Kmiecik finished tied for 53rd.
- Ashland freshman Kaitlin Neumann shot a 246 at the Division II regional. The Avon graduate finished 28th and Ashland placed sixth.
- Nikki Chiricosta added another award to her rapidly growing trophy case. The Bowling Green senior tennis star, and Avon Lake graduate, was one of 24 MAC athletes to win a Medal of Excellence Award on May 13. To be eligible, athletes had to participate in a varsity conference-sponsored sport, achieve a minimum GPA of 3.50 and exhibit excellence in athletics, leadership and service. On Thursday, Chiricosta was a first-team selection to the Capital One Academic All-District team. The school said she holds a 3.97 GPA as a communications major and wants to pursue a career in sports journalism.
- Vermilion graduate Morgan Baker was an honorable mention selection of the All-OAC team.
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or email@example.com.