Baseball: Doug Sanders enjoying Kent State’s wild ride
By Erik Jacobsen email@example.com June 14, 2012 6:56PM
Kent State players and coaches celebrate their victory against Oregon on Monday in an NCAA Super Regional in Eugene, Ore. | Ross William Hamilton~AP
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:20AM
St. Edward graduate Doug Sanders will be right in the middle of the action when Kent State makes its first-ever appearance at the College World Series this weekend in Omaha, Neb.
Sanders is in his third season serving as first base coach for his alma mater, and he has enjoyed an up-close view as the Golden Flashes have made a Cinderella run through college baseball’s postseason.
The surge began when Kent State won the Mid-American Conference Tournament championship late last month in Avon, Ohio. The Golden Flashes followed that by winning an NCAA Regional in Gary, Ind., and Monday night they punched their ticket for the College World Series by beating host Oregon 3-2 to win the Eugene Super Regional.
Next up for Kent State (46-18) is a clash with Arkansas (44-20) at 5 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the College World Series. The game will be televised on ESPN.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this,” Sanders said. “It has been an incredible journey, and it is a testament to the hard work of a lot of people that have made this happen.”
Sanders is known around Elgin for his successful run as a three-sport athlete at St. Edward, including a stellar high school career with the Green Wave’s baseball team that earned him 2004 Courier-News Player of the Year honors as a senior.
From St. Edward he went on to play two years at Elgin Community College before signing with Kent State, where he spent two seasons as a second baseman for the Golden Flashes prior to his graduation in 2008. Sanders continues to play professionally with the River City Rascals of the independent Frontier League in suburban St. Louis, but Kent State’s run has put his season on hold.
“I haven’t had a chance to get out there this year because of this little interruption,” Sanders said. “I’m going on my third year (with the Rascals) and I’ll most likely finish up my career this year.”
Sanders, who is the son of former St. Edward football and baseball coach Rich Sanders, said he plans to continue coaching after he ends his playing career. The distant future couldn’t be further from his mind, though, as he looks forward to the College World Series.
The Golden Flashes figure to face plenty of tough competition in the double-elimination portion of the tournament, which starts today and runs until June 22 and includes two-time defending national champion South Carolina. The two teams still standing after double elimination advance to the best-of-three championship series from June 24-26.
“Kent State has always been an unbelievable program,” said Sanders, who primarily coaches infield but also helps with outfield and hitting instruction in addition to his first-base coach duties on Scott Stricklin’s staff. “We’ve made a bunch of regionals and just never got over the hump. Finally this year we got over the hump and took it on to Eugene, and I think the fellas didn’t want to lose anymore.
“We had a 21-game winning streak going at one point and we’ve won 22 out of 23. Right now we’re one of the teams here and you just want to keep it going.”