By Jeff Brown
Youngstown State University’s baseball team struggled offensively, but thanks to stellar pitching from Michael Semonsen and Joel Hake, it was able to hold on to a 2-0 victory over Bowling Green State University Wednesday night.
Mistakes cost Bowling Green early as a throwing error by shortstop Cody Callaway allowed a run off a double by Alex Larivee in the first inning. Larivee would score later in the inning on a fielder’s choice by first baseman Gerrad Rohan to give the Penguins a 2-0 lead leaving the first.
After the first inning, YSU hit an offensive rut — failing to register a hit until the fourth inning — and failed to string hits together to amount to any offensive threat for the rest of the evening.
“We’ve had that happen where we get a couple runs early on and then it becomes tough for us,” YSU head coach Steve Gillispie said. “ They’re going to keep swinging the bats, but if we can pitch and play defense like that, we’ll be in most games.
Semonsen got himself into a jam a couple of times early but was able to work through it.
In the second inning, he allowed base hits to the first two batters, but was able to work his way out of it by striking out the next batter and forcing the next two to fly out. And again in the third, Semonsen loaded the bases with two outs, but forced a fly out to centerfield to keep the Falcons scoreless.
“His stuff is so good he’s not going to get hit when he challenges the strike zone like he did most of the time,” Gillispie said. “A couple of walks and a hit batter kind of created the trouble for himself. His stuff is so good he feels confident he can get out of those kinds of situations.”
Semonsen pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and struck out two batters before being relieved by freshman pitcher Joel Hake in the fourth inning.
Hake came out strong pitching three hitless innings and had an impressive pickoff in the sixth. Hake allowed only one hit in four innings of work with two strikeouts.
“I was just spotting up with the fastball the best I can,” Hake said. “I didn’t think I had the best stuff I’ve ever had, but I was spotting up with the fastball and the slider was working pretty good.”
YSU infielder and pitcher Shane Willoughby came in relief of Hake to start the top of the eighth inning and got off to a shaky start. Willoughby allowed hits to two of the Falcons’ first three batters in the eighth, but was able to settle down and strike out the next two batters to keep the Falcons scoreless.
With the win, YSU improves to 9-26 on the year. Bowling Green drops to 16-25.
The Penguins continue their nonconference home stand with a three-game series against Canisius College this weekend.