The Youngstown State baseball team will look to continue its three-game winning streak when it takes on Pittsburgh on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Eastwood Field. Live video will be broadcast on the Horizon League Network, and live stats will be available through YSUsports.com.
YSU enters the game against Pitt riding a season-best three-game winning streak. The Penguins earned their first-ever series sweep of UIC over the weekend, beating the Flames 11-3, 9-7 and 9-0. YSU scored 29 runs in the three-game series, which nearly equaled the 34 runs it scored in the first 13 games of April. Youngstown State also got outstanding efforts from its starting rotation in the three-game series as Russ Harless, Ryan Krokos and Blake Aquadro combined to allow three earned runs in 19 1-3 innings.
Redshirt sophomore Alex Frey is slated to start Wednesday's contest against the Panthers. It would be Frey's first career start and his first appearances in 23 months. The left-hander pitched in 23 games as a true freshman in 2010 before missing all of 2011 and the first 41 games of this season with an elbow injury and eventual Tommy John surgery. He had a 7.45 ERA in 19 1-3 innings as a freshman in primarily lefty-versus-lefty situations. The goal is for Frey to pitch at least two innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen for midweek work.
Pittsburgh enters this week with a 21-21 overall record and a 6-12 mark in Big East play. The Panthers have won three of their last five games, including two of three against Georgetown over the weekend. Senior first baseman Rick Deveraux leads the Panthers in batting average (.356), hits (63), home runs (7), RBI (47), total bases (99), and slugging percentage (.559). Sophomore righty J.R. Leonardi, who is 2-1 with a 4.62 ERA in 13 appearances, is Wednesday's probable starter for Pitt. Pittsburgh plays at Ohio on Tuesday evening.
Production Throughout the Line-Up
The Penguins had consistent production throughout the lineup over the weekend in their sweep of UIC. They had hits in 20 of their 24 innings at the plate, and the nine players who registered at least five at bats all scored at least two runs. Six players with more than 10 at bats hit at least .333, and Drew Dosch, Jeremy Banks and Jason Shirley all had batting averages of at least .500.
Ending April on a High Note
YSU struggled offensively in April leading up to last weekend, but the Penguins now enter May with confidence as high as it's been all season. YSU hit .346 and averaged 12.3 hits and 9.7 runs in the three games against UIC last weekend. The Penguins were hitting .247 and averaging 8.2 hits and 2.6 runs per game in their first 13 games of the month. The biggest difference over the past weekend was hitting in the clutch. YSU was 14-for-38 (.368) with runners in scoring position and had 17 two-out RBIs in the three-game series against the Flames. The Penguins were hitting .183 and had 11 two-out RBIs in the first 13 games in April.
Banks, Aquadro Sweep Weekly Awards
Senior designated hitter Jeremy Banks and junior pitcher Blake Aquadro are the reigning Horizon League Players of the Week for their contributions in the Penguins' sweep of UIC. Banks batted .636 with seven hits in 11 at bats in three games for YSU, reaching base at least twice in each game. He had three RBIs in YSU's 11-3 win on Friday and added three more in YSU's 9-0 win in the series finale. Banks was 4-for-4 in the finale and recorded his 200th career hit with an eighth-inning single. Aquadro pitched the Penguins' first nine-inning complete-game shutout since 2004 against UIC on Sunday. The junior southpaw scattered eight hits and struck out three while throwing 144 pitches. Only one of the Flames' hits went for extra bases.
Banks Collects 200th Hit
Senior Jeremy Banks became the 10th player in school history to record 200 career hits on Sunday with an eighth-inning single to left field. Banks has 200 hits exactly - 42 this season, 64 in 2011, 56 in 2010 and 38 as a freshman in 2009. Kendall Schlabach is the school record holder with 265 hits from 2001-04, and third on the all-time list in Justin Banks, Jeremy's older brother. Justin Banks had 249 hits in 778 at bats for a .320 batting average in his career from 2003-06. Jeremy Banks is 200-for-623 for a .321 batting average. The list of YSU players with 200 career hits is below.
- Kendall Schlabach - 265 (2001-04)
- Erich Diedrich - 252 (2005-08)
- Justin Banks - 249 (2003-06)
- Brandon Caipen - 247 (2003-06)
- John Koehnlein - 245 (2006-09)
- Joe Iacobucci - 245 (2008-11)
- Josh Page - 233 (2005-08)
- Charles Schultz - 219 (2003-06)
- Todd Santore - 202 (1998-2001)
- Jeremy Banks - 200 (2009-present)
Youngstown State will travel to Indianapolis for a three-game series at Butler. Game one of the series will be Friday at 3 p.m.