The Youngstown State baseball team will head south for the third straight week this weekend with three games scheduled at the River View Inn Classic at Austin Peay. The Penguins will play the host Governors on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Eastern, Akron on Saturday at noon Eastern and Iowa on Sunday at noon Eastern. Live stats will be available through YSUsports.com. The Penguins lost two games apiece last week to Fairfield and Long Island, and they are looking for their first win of the young season. Austin Peay enters the weekend with a 4-3 record while Akron is 0-6 and Iowa is 1-5.
On the Mound
YSU will keep the same three pitchers in its rotation for the third straight week. Sophomore right-hander Patrick O'Brien will pitch against Austin Peay, junior righty Pat Shedlock will throw versus Akron and junior left-hander Blake Aquadro will take the mound against Iowa. O'Brien has an 0-1 record and a 10.80 ERA in his first two starts. He allowed five runs on eight hits while striking out six in 5.1 innings against Long Island last week. Shedlock is coming off a start that was affected by a rain delay in which he allowed three runs in three innings against Fairfield. He struck out six batters in those three innings, and he has fanned 10 batters in six innings for the season. Aquadro allowed just two runs on four hits in 4.1 innings against Fairfield last week. He walked four batters against Fairfield and has issued eight walks in seven innings this season.
Scouting Austin Peay
Austin Peay, the defending Ohio Valley Conference champion, enters its tournament with a 4-3 record. The Governors opened the season by winning three out of four games at home against Illinois State, and they won one of three at Georgia State last weekend. Austin Peay is batting .244 as a team and has seven home runs in its seven games. Ryan Quick, the projected starter against YSU, has allowed four runs on eight hits and nine walks in 12 innings. Opposing batters are hitting .195 against Quick, a sophomore righty who went 5-2 last season. Head Coach Gary McClure has won more than 700 games in his 25 seasons.
Akron will enter this weekend without a win in six tries. Its six losses include three at USC, two against Appalachian State and one at Elon. The Zips are hitting .179 as a team and have seven extra-base hits in their six games. Tyler Begun has two of those extra-base hits and is hitting a team-best .286. Akron has a team ERA of 8.82, and its pitchers have walked 34 batters while striking out 24. Sophomore right-hander Myles McVeigh is projected to start against YSU, and he is 0-2 with an 11.42 ERA in 8.2 innings. He has walked eight batters and struck out four while allowing nine hits. McVeigh posted a 3.82 ERA last season while striking out 49 batters in 75.1 innings. Rick Rembielak is in his first season as Akron's head coach.
Iowa enters the weekend having lost five straight games since its win over Pittsburgh on opening day. The Hawkeyes have lost three one-run games, including two last week to Virginia Tech and Coastal Carolina. Iowa is batting .245 as a team and has eight extra-base hits. Senior Chett Zeise is batting a team-high .409 in 22 at bats, but none of his teammates with at least 12 at bats are hitting above .270. Sasha Kuebel, the reigning Big Ten co-Freshman of the Week, is slated to start against YSU. The lefty allowed one run on three hits in 7.1 innings last week against Virginia Tech. He has allowed three runs on seven hits in 11.2 innings this season. Jack Dahm is in his ninth year as Iowa's head coach.
Breaking Down Runs Allowed
For Youngstown State to be successful, it needs to cut down on the number of unearned runs and two-out runs that opponents are scoring. Of the 80 runs that teams have scored in the first seven games, 41 (51 percent) have scored after there were two outs. Long Island scored eight two-out runs in YSU's last game, and N.C. Stats had eight runs with two outs on Feb. 18. The Penguins have also allowed 13 unearned runs in their first seven games. Both Monmouth and Fairfield scored four unearned runs against YSU.
Hoping for Contribution Throughout Line-Up
Jeremy Banks, Marcus Heath and Drew Dosch have all gotten off to very solid starts at the plate in 2012, but the rest of the line-up has struggled out of the game. The trio of Banks, Heath and Dosch is hitting a combined .368 with 28 hits in 76 at bats. The other 11 Penguins who have stepped to the plate are a combined 18-for-149 for an average of .121. Kevin Hix does have a .355 on-base percentage and ranks second on the team with four runs scored.
Banks Picks Up From Last Season
Senior first baseman Jeremy Banks has been YSU's hottest hitter through the first seven games. He is 13-for-28 in the first two weeks, and seven of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases. The Steubenville, Ohio, native has six doubles and a home run to go with a team-high eight RBIs. He has reached base at least twice in every game, and in each of YSU's first five games he had multiple hits, at least one double and at least one RBI. He leads the Horizon League in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and doubles. Dating back to last season, Banks has 32 hits in his last 71 at bats for an average of .451. Banks is one of three YSU players since 2000 to hit at least .300 in his first three seasons.
Harless Impressing Early
Freshman right-handed pitcher Russ Harless has been impressive early in his career at YSU. Harless has allowed three runs in nine innings over five appearances. He has not allowed a run in four of his outings, including throwing four scoreless innings against Long Island on Sunday. In fact, he did not allow a run in six total innings last weekend against Fairfield and LIU. Harless has struck out eight batters and has not walked anyone this season.
Youngstown State will play its first traditional three-game series of the season next weekend at VMI. The Penguins will play the Keydets at 5 p.m. on March 9 and at 2 p.m. on March 10 and 11.