Willoughby, Kendrick Homer as Baseball Falls in Season Opener

Shane Willoughby
Shane Willoughby

The Youngstown State baseball team got solo home runs from Shane Willoughby and Andrew Kendrick in a season-opening 9-2 loss to Austin Peay on Friday at Raymond C. Hand Park.

The solo homers accounted for two of the Penguins' three hits against the Governors on Opening Day of the 2017 season. Willoughby hit his on the sixth pitch of the game to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead, and Kendrick's came in the fourth. Anthony Santoro delivered the Penguins' other hit, an infield single in the fifth inning.

Austin Peay hit four home runs, and starting pitcher Alex Robles struck out nine batters in five innings. All three of the Penguins hits came off Robles, who was the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Pitcher of the Year.

"The result obviously wasn't what we were looking for, but I think our guys competed," said Dan Bertolini, who made his debut as YSU's head coach. "Robles threw a good game and kept us off balance. I think overall there were some positive, and we just need to continue to work and come out and compete again tomorrow."

Willoughby's home run gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Kyle Wilson led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer to tie the score. Cayce Bredlau's two-run home run with one out in the third gave the Governors a 3-1 lead, and Austin Peay's pitching staff kept the upper hand.

Kendrick's opposite field blast came with two outs in the fourth inning, and it cut the deficit to 3-2. Austin Peay capitalized on an extra out in the fourth thanks to a wild pitch on a strikeout, and a fielder's choice with the bases loaded made the score 4-2.

A leadoff triple led to a run in the bottom of the sixth, and the Governors pulled away with a pair of home runs in a four-run seventh.

YSU starter Joe King allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out three batters in four innings. Gino DiVincenzo pitched the fifth and sixth innings, and Alex Bellardini came on for the seventh and eighth.

Youngstown State will stay in Clarksville, Tenn., to play Indiana State on Saturday at the Riverview Inn Governors Challenge. First pitch against the Sycamores is set for 4:30 p.m. Eastern.