Baseball Starts Three-Game Series with Oakland on Thursday

Jake Ross (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Jake Ross (Photo by Ron Stevens)

The Youngstown State baseball team will begin the second half of Horizon League play this week with a three-game series against Oakland. The Penguins and Golden Grizzlies will play at 5:30 p.m. on both Thursday and Friday, and the series finale will be Saturday at 2 p.m. All three games will be broadcast live on the Horizon League Network.

The Penguins are coming off a week in which they picked up victories over Kent State and Valparaiso. They split a pair of seven-inning games against the Golden Flashes last Tuesday, and they won the series finale against the Crusaders for their first Horizon League victory. The Penguins scored at least seven runs in four of the five contests and averaged 6.8 runs during the week. The 12-4 win over Valparaiso on Sunday was YSU's last contest as Tuesday's scheduled game against Pittsburgh was cancelled due to poor weather. YSU's series at Oakland scheduled for March 14-16 was cancelled because of snow.

Individually last week, Phil Lipari batted .400 with two home runs, six runs scored, seven RBIs and two steals to lead the Penguins at the plate. Brent Gillespie batted .438 with four doubles, and Alex Larivee hit .389. On the mound, Nic Manuppelli had his best start of the season with three runs on four hits and six strikeouts in the win over Valparaiso. Ryan Smith earned his first career win in a relief outing against Kent State, and he did not allow a run in three innings for the week.

The Penguins will keep the same rotation this weekend with right-handers Brendon Shoemake and Patrick O'Brien throwing in the first two games before Manuppelli throws the finale.

Oakland also earned its first Horizon League victory with a 15-3 win over UIC on Saturday. The Golden Grizzlies are in their first year in the league and haven't played the Penguins since both teams were in the Mid-Continent Conference in 2001. Sophomore Mike Brosseau is batting .372 and leads Oakland with 20 runs and 21 RBIs, and two other regulars are hitting above. 270. Lefthander Jason Hager (1-2, 6.14 ERA) will start game one against Shoemake, and right-handers Tim Koons (0-1, 4.96) and Jake Paulson (3-3, 2.63) will follow. Former YSU star Jacke Healey (2009-10) is an assistant coach for Oakland, which is one win away from its 300th at the Division I level.

After this weekend, the Penguins will have just one home game until May 9. They will play midweek games at Akron and Canisius next week before starting a three-game series at Milwaukee on April 25.