Klein Pitches Baseball to 4-2 Tourney Win Over Milwaukee

Phil Klein
Phil Klein

Dayton, Ohio -- The Youngstown State baseball team scored four runs in the eighth and got an outstanding performance from senior pitcher Phil Klein to defeat Milwaukee 4-2 in a first-round game in the Horizon League Baseball Championship on Wednesday at Nischwitz Stadium.

The sixth-seeded Penguins advance to play top-seeded Wright State on Thursday at 7 p.m. No. 3 Milwaukee will play an elimination game at 11 a.m. against No. 5 Butler.

Klein allowed two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out 10 in eight innings. He blanked the Panthers for the first seven innings and didn't allow a run until there were two outs in the eighth.

Klein outdueled Horizon League Pitcher of the Year Chad Pierce, who also did not allow a run for the first seven innings.

"We got an outstanding outing today by Phil, going toe-to-toe with the Pitcher of the Year (Pierce)," YSU head coach Rich Pasquale said. "He showed that he can dominate today. He got good defense behind him, and we came up clutch for him in the eighth."

Klein allowed two base-runners in the first and another in the second, and Milwaukee had its best chance to score early in the third. After a double play accounted for the first two outs, the next two Panthers reached to put runners at the corners. Klein got Paul Hoenecke to line out to Neil Schroth in center to end the inning. The Panthers had runners at the corners with two outs again in the sixth when Klein struck out Jonathan Capasso to end the inning.

The Penguins also had a chance early when two hits and a walk loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but Pierce worked out of it when Chris Mitko grounded back to the mound. After Jeremy Banks' two-out single in the third, Pierce did not allow another hit until the eighth.

With a high pitch counts to Penguin hitters, Pierce began to labor as the innings went on. He walked Drew Dosch to start the eighth, and Banks' single to center ended the hitless drought. David Leon then reached on an infield hit to load the bases with one out. Pierce walked Joe Iacobucci to force in the game's first run, and he left after starting pinch-hitter Jonathan Crist off with a ball.

Greg Blohowiak came in for relief, and Crist laid down a bunt single near the first base line to bring in Banks. Dan Hurlimann singled through the right side with the infield drawn in to plate Leon, and Iacobucci scored on Padraic Willams' fielder's choice.

After the long lay-off, Klein allowed a single and a walk to start the bottom of the eighth. He got two big outs when Doug Dekoning flew out and Sam Sivilotti struck out, but Klein beaned Sam Koenig to load the bases. Jonathan Capasso hit a two-run single to center on an 0-2 pitch, but Klein got Drew Pearson to ground out back to the mound to end the threat.

Klein handed the ball off to Blake Aquadro in the ninth after throwing 140 pitches, and Aquadro earned his first collegiate save. The Panthers had the winning run at the plate after a hit batsman and bunt single, but Aquadro got Dekoning to fly out to right to end the game.

Klein's 10 strikeouts against the Panthers brought his career total to 258. He moved into second place on YSU's all-time list, surpassing Justin Thomas (250) and Dave Dravecky (251). Klein also set a new single-season record by making his 15th start of the year.

YSU also won the six-versus-three game in last year's tournament, defeating UIC 8-4.

Banks and Hurlimann had two hits apiece to lead YSU. Koenig had three of Milwaukee's seven hits. The Panthers stranded 10 runners in the game.