By Marc Weems
With the Youngstown State University baseball team (12-27, 6-13 Horizon League) having had quite the odd season, it has had many quality wins along with some terrible losses. Among those wins were a road win at No. 29-ranked Kent State University 11-6 on April 4. The other major win was against No. 17 Georgia Tech by a score of 12-3.
This season, YSU has struggled to stay consistent but has always played as hard as can. Currently, YSU is on a two-game win streak. YSU started the season 1-11 which were all road games. YSU has played to a 11-16 record since.
“I think that we’ve shown that we can play with anyone,” YSU head coach Dan Bertolini said. “It shows that what we are capable of. I wish that we would play better on the consistent side of things. With the new staff that came in, I think it took everyone some time to get used to the way we wanted to play. It shows our potential.”
Bertolini believes that the team can put together a nice run to end the season. The Horizon League has seven teams and only six of them make the postseason tournament. YSU is in sixth place now, just 1.5 games ahead of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It is also a 1.5 games behind Valparaiso University for fifth place.
YSU gets to face Valpo for the next five games with a 3-game series at home on April 28-30 and then it goes on the road for April 5-6. YSU has a great chance to take over fifth place in the next week or so.
“It’s been really fun so far,” YSU catcher Lou Cardona said. “Obviously, there has been a lot of ups like beating really high profile teams. We’ve also had a lot of downs. We are really trying to figure ourselves out. This is the last stretch of about 18 games or so.”
Cordona also said that the team is really finding themselves and it is figuring out how to win together.
These next 10 games or so are very important considering the No. 3 team, Northern Kentucky University, and the No. 7 seed, Milwaukee, are just five games apart in the standings.
“It’s very important to end the season on the right note,” YSU left-handed pitcher Joe King said. “You really want to know that winning feeling going into the conference tournament. The first goal is to make the conference tournament because only six out of seven teams make it. We want to get into the tournament on high note.”
This season, King has appeared in 17 games. He posted a 2-5 record with a 5.27 earned run average in 42 and 2/3 innings.
Cordona has played in 30 games. He’s batting .277 with five runs batted in and eight runs scored. Both players have been part of the way YSU has won.
“It’s really important to end the season by playing our best baseball,” Bertolini said. “I told everyone at the beginning of the year that it is not how you start but it’s how you finish. A lot of people remember how the 2014 team ended their season. That’s important for us to play well.”
Bertolini said that other than a bad game against the University of Illinois-Chicago and Wright State University, the team has been super competitive in almost every game.
“Big games show what type of potential this team has,” Cordona said. “It shows us that we can compete with anybody. Those wins overall are just good confidence boosters for the entire team. It really gets us going.”
YSU will look to make a push towards the postseason when it faces Valpo on April 28 in the Go4theGoal Children’s Cancer Game at 5 p.m.