By Dan Hiner
The Youngstown State University baseball team won its three-game series against the University of Missouri on Friday and Saturday, and they did it with a little late game magic.
After losing the first game of the series on Friday 8-3, the Penguins had to win both games in a doubleheader on Saturday to take the series, and both games came down to the bottom of the ninth inning.
YSU (4-9) was down 3-2 in the top of the ninth inning, but fought back to win 4-3 — the first Penguins’ win over a Southeastern Conference team since 1988.
YSU freshman catcher Hunter Snyder came to the plate with one out and runners on first and second. He tied the game at 3-3 on a single up the middle to drive in Shane Willoughby from second base and advance Nico Padovan from first base to third. The game-tying run was Snyder’s first collegiate RBI.
The next batter, Lorenzo Arcuri, hit a sacrifice fly to right field to drive Padovan in from third base — giving YSU a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
YSU closer Kevin Yarabinec came in to pitch the ninth inning and forced Missouri into three quick groundouts to end the game. Yarabinec improved his record to 2-1 on the season.
The Penguins won the second game on Saturday 3-2.
After game one, YSU took an early lead in game two.
With two outs in the top of the first inning and runners on second and third, Andrew Kendrick hit a single up the middle to drive in YSU’s Billy Salem and Padovan. YSU took a 2-0 lead.
Missouri (13-4) took advantage of a couple YSU miscues in the bottom of the second inning to cut the lead to 2-1. Tigers’ catcher Brett Bond advanced to second base after a wild pitch from YSU pitcher Collin Floyd. Bond was on second with two outs, but a throwing error by Padovan allowed Bond to score from second base.
YSU responded in the top of the fourth inning. YSU’s Dominic Farina hit a one-out sacrifice fly to right field to drive Willoughby in from third base.
YSU allowed a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the fifth inning, but the Penguins still maintained a 3-2 lead.
Missouri tried to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth. After a leadoff single by Johnny Balsamo and a sacrifice bunt, the Penguins were in danger of blowing the lead. But with one out, Missouri’s Ryan Howard lined out to Willoughby at shortstop, who flipped the ball to second base to double off Balsamo at second base to end the game.
The Penguins relied heavily on their pitching in the doubleheader, much like they have has early this season. YSU’s pitching staff allowed eight hits combined in the doubleheader. The pitchers allowed five runs, only four were earned, and struck out 14 Tigers.
This was the first time this season the Penguins have won a three-game series. YSU will open conference play with a three-game series at Wright State University on Friday.