KENT, Ohio - Kent State's historic run to the College World Series came at a heavy price for junior designated hitter Jason Bagoli. The Austintown native lost his mom suddenly just two days before the team's first ever World Series game.
The entire baseball team rallied around Bagoli at the toughest time in his young life.
"Jason is like a brother to us and we did everything we could to make sure he knew that we were there for him," said Evan Campbell, a centerfielder on the team,
Bagoli said the outpouring of love and support from his coaches and teammates is what helped him stay focused on the task at hand.
"We gave Jason the choice of flying back home right away to be with his family, but it was his decision to stay with us and play," head coach Scott Stricklin said.
The decision to stay would pay off, as Bagoli got the start against Florida, the number one ranked team in the country. He responded with two hits, including a double in his last at bat that missed a homerun by inches. The Golden Flashes shocked the college baseball world by eliminating Florida 5-4. That would be Bagoli's final game as he would fly home two days later for family services.
Stricklin was hoping Bagoi would make it back in time for Thursday's game against South Carolina, but the game ended and Bagoli never made it. I spoke with Jason at Kent State's victory celebration this week on campus about what his day was like when Kent State played their final game.
"I hopped on a chartered plane early in the morning the day of the game against South Carolina. I knew if we played well there was a chance I would land and make it to the game in time to get at least one at bat," Bagoli said.
Bagoli was worried the entire flight, as there was no way to get any score updates or know how fast the game was being played. His biggest wish: "To make to the game in time to get the winning hit."
Bagoli's plane landed with a police escort waiting for him. The plan from there was to jump into a waiting Omaha police cruiser with sirens blaring and race 15 minutes to the ballpark to make it in time for a final at bat.
That wish did not come true, as soon as Bagoli landed he was informed the game had just ended and his team had lost to South Carolina ended their amazing run.
Bagoli will return for his senior year at Kent next season.
"I guess we will just have to make it back to Omaha again next season."