Baseball Travels to Canisius, Hosts Valparaiso This Week

Trey Bridis
Trey Bridis

Schedule Change: Rain in the weekend forecast has changed the schedule for the series against Valparaiso. YSU and Valpo will play a doubleheader on Friday at 2 p.m., and Saturday's game will remain at 3 p.m. (weather permitting).

The Youngstown State baseball team will play a midweek game at Canisius and host a three-game Horizon League series at Eastwood Field this week. The Penguins will play at Canisius on Tuesday at 3 p.m., and they will take on Valparaiso at 5 p.m. on Friday, 3 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. Friday's game was originally scheduled for 11 a.m. but was pushed back to 5 p.m. The Penguins will raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer in conjunction with Go4theGoal at Friday's contest.

Last Week: Youngstown State earned two wins in six home games last week, beating Bowling Green 6-5 on Wednesday and Milwaukee 5-1 on Saturday. The Penguins' victory over Bowling Green was in dramatic fashion as Kyle Benyo hit a walk-off, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was YSU's first walk-off dinger since 2008, and it came after Bowling Green scored three runs in the top of the eighth to go up 5-4. Jeremy Quinlan was the star on Saturday as he held Milwaukee to one run on five hits in the complete game victory. Quinlan faced two batters over the minimum and retired the final 11 hitters of the game.

Quinlan Changed Course of Staff: Senior right-hander Jeremy Quinlan missed the first month of the season as he recovered from an injury, but he has brought stability to the rotation since his return. Quinlan has a 2.91 ERA over 34 innings in his six starts this season. He has earned complete-game victories in each of his last home starts, and he has a 3-0 record on the mound. His presence has allowed Joe King and Joel Hake to move to the bullpen, where they have flourished. Hake has a 2.41 ERA in 10 relief appearances, and King has a 2.81 ERA in 12 games as a reliever.

Horizon League Standings Update: Although Youngstown State went 1-3 in Horizon League play last week, the victory was a big one for positioning in the standings. YSU is 6-13 in conference play, which puts it sixth in the rankings with 11 games left in the league schedule. The Penguins and league-leading UIC are the only teams who have not had their conference bye week yet, which slightly complicates the rankings. YSU leads Milwaukee (3-13) by three wins, and the Penguins are three losses behind Valparaiso (6-10). The Penguins' remaining 11 games include five games against fifth-place Valparaiso and two games each against second-place Wright State, third-place Northern Kentucky and fourth-place Oakland. The top six teams make the Horizon League Tournament.

Quick Notes Around the Diamond

  1. YSU has already surpassed its Horizon League win total from 2016. The Penguins are 6-13 in league play this season after going 5-21 last year.
  2. Youngstown State already has the third-most home runs for a season in school history with 39. The only other two times YSU has hit at least 40 was when it had 43 in 1995 and 60 in 2010.
  3. Although the Penguins have been limited to two home runs over their last eight games, they are still in a position where they could challenge the school record for homers in a season. YSU has 39 round-trippers in 38 games, which is a 57-homer pace over a 56-game season.
  4. Zack Minney pitched a complete game against UIC on Friday in which he held the Flames scoreless on two hits over the final seven innings.
  5. The Penguins have had four complete-game efforts on the mound in April. They had none in February or March. The last time YSU had at least four complete games in an entire season was 2009.
  6. Alex Bellardini has a 2.95 EA over his last 18-1/3 innings, which have spanned 13 appearances. He pitched four shutout innings against Kent State last week, which was his longest outing of the year.
  7. In 18 games since March 28, Trey Bridis leads the team with a .323 batting average and 14 runs scored. He has hit in 13 of those games and multiple hits in seven of them. The sophomore outfielder was batting .161 before March 28.
  8. YSU has beaten two ranked teams on the road this season – No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26 and No. 29 Kent State on April 4. The Penguins also beat the Golden Flashes when they were ranked 28th last season. Before that win, YSU had not topped a ranked team in 17 years.
  9. Andrew Kendrick ranks fourth in the country in with 0.41 home runs per game, and he is seventh in total home runs with 14.

Scouting Canisius: Canisius is 23-15 this season and is coming off a three-game sweep of Rider of the weekend. The Golden Griffins rank second in the MAAC with a .278 team batting average, and they lead the league with 221 runs scored. Canisius ranks fifth in the conference in team ERA at 4.63, and its pitchers have struck out a league-leading 269 batters. Individually, Jake Lumley is the MAAC leader with a .378 batting average. Canisius was picked to finish second in the MAAC preseason poll.

Scouting Valparaiso: Valparaiso heads into this week with a 16-22 overall record and a 6-10 mark in Horizon League play. The Crusaders play at Notre Dame on Tuesday before coming to Youngstown over the weekend. Valpo split both of its conference doubleheaders last weekend, winning the second half of both against Northern Kentucky and Wright State. Ellis Foreman is the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week after hurling a complete-game shutout at Wright State on Sunday. Valpo ranks third in the conference with a .274 batting average, and it is fourth in team ERA. Valparaiso was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League preseason poll.

Next Week: Youngstown State will not have any midweek games next week as the university holds finals week. The Penguins will play a doubleheader at Valparaiso on Friday and another doubleheader at Wright State on Saturday.