By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University baseball team traveled to Valparaiso University for a three-game series over the weekend. The game was schedule to be played at Eastwood Field for the Penguins’ home opener, but due to weather conditions was moved.
During game one of the series, the Penguins and the Crusaders were tied 0-0 heading into the fifth inning. Starting pitcher Jeremy Quinlan allowed six runs, only four earned, and was relieved in the sixth inning. Valparaiso doubled four times in the sixth inning.
YSU fought back to cut the lead to 8-3 after a two-run homerun by first baseman Brent Gillespie in the sixth inning. Right fielder Alex Larivee hit a solo homerun in the eighth inning after the Crusaders added another run in the top on the inning. YSU’s final run scored after a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth. The Penguins lost the first game 9-5.
The YSU offense was more consistent in the second game of the series.
The Penguins fell behind 3-0 by the third inning. However, a four-run fourth inning led by four hits, two walks and back-to-back errors by Valparaiso third baseman Shea Molitor. YSU scored an additional run scored in the fifth gave YSU a 5-3 lead heading into the fifth.
The Crusaders countered with three runs in the fifth and four runs in the seventh to take a 10-5 lead. The Penguins were able to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh to cut the Crusader lead to 10-8, but YSU was held scoreless during the rest of the game.
The YSU offense was shutdown in the final game of the series. The Penguins were only able to muster four hits and were shut out 4-0. Valparaiso pitcher Mario Losi didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning.
Second baseman Kevin Nix gave YSU its best opportunity to score in the eighth inning with a leadoff double. Right fielder Lorenzo Arcuri followed the double with a single to center field. Nix advanced to third base, but was doubled off after Jason Shirley lined out to shortstop.
YSU’s pitching gave a good performance — allowing six hits and striking out 10 Valparaiso batters. Starting pitcher Josh North threw six innings, allowing four runs on four hits. North struck out nine Crusaders.
After the three-game sweep the Penguins are 4-11 on the season and 1-5 in Horizon League play.
YSU will play the University of Akron on March 24 at Lee R. Jackson Field in Akron. The Zips are 10-10 this season and 2-1 in the Mid-American Conference. Akron is tied for the lead in the MAC East division.