By Jeff Brown
It wasn’t an ideal Wednesday afternoon at Eastwood Field for the Youngstown State University baseball team in their game against the University of Pittsburgh. The Penguins fell behind early and were never able to fully recuperate, falling to Pittsburgh 8-4. YSU drops to 5-13 on the season.
Junior pitcher D.J. Carr made his fourth start of the season for the Penguins, but struggled early allowing six runs in the first two innings. Carr’s record dropped to 0-3 on the year.
“It made it a big hole to overcome and dig ourselves out of. It’s tough to crawl back into when you’re down by that much,” head coach Steve Gillispie said. “Credit to our guys. For the three years I’ve been here they’ve played hard day in and day out.”
Carr was pulled at the start of the third inning in favor of the lefty Austin Lujano. He came in to stop the bleeding, only allowing two runs on two hits, before being pulled for relief pitcher Anthony Konders at the start of the fifth inning.
From here a pitching combination of Konders, Joe King and Josh Fitch held the Panthers scoreless for the final five innings of play.
“It was a good job by our bullpen to start throwing up some zeros and hold them where they were and give our bats a chance to chip away,” Gillispie said.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, they struggled to get much going offensively. YSU remained hitless until the fourth inning when designated hitter Jake Fryman hit a two-run home run to bring the Penguins within six runs (8-2). Fryman added a double in the sixth inning, and was brought in by third baseman Josh Fitch to diminish the Panthers lead to 8-4. Fryman finished the day 2-3 with two RBI’s.
“I knew he was gonna try and throw a lot of strikes after going up 6-0. I was just trying to sit on. I knew a good pitch was coming,” Fryman said.
Coach Gillipse said he is really impressed with the way Fryman has matured since one season ago.
“[Fryman] can be streaky at times, and he’s on one of those streaks, but he really has matured as a hitter,” Gillipsie said. “He took what they gave him and shot a double down the line and that’s what we hope out of him — that there’s some maturity and can be an example for some of these young guys.”
The Penguins as a whole only managed seven hits on the afternoon and were ineffective for the first part of the game, failing to register a hit until the fourth inning.
“As the game went on, we saw more pitches and they kind of weren’t scoring as much. We put better bats together as a team,” Fryman said.
Next up for the Penguins is a home series against Horizon League Conference foe, the University of Illinois at Chicago. Games are scheduled for Friday at 5:30, Saturday at 2:30 and Sunday at noon.
Fryman said the game against Pittsburgh, although it was a loss, will help the Penguins prepare for the Horizon League play.
“They’re a good ACC [Atlantic Coast Conference] team. I think it gives us a lot of confidence going into the league,” Fryman said.