Youngstown State's Andrew Kendrick continued his monster start to the 2017 season with two more home runs on Sunday as the Penguins battled before falling 13-7 to Illinois State.
Kendrick hit a grand slam in the first inning to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead on the Redbirds. His other homer came in the bottom of the ninth after Illinois State scored five runs in the top of the inning to open up what was a two-run game.
Kendrick finished YSU's opening weekend with five home runs and 11 RBIs in three games. He was 2-for-5 on Sunday and drove in six of the Penguins' seven runs.
Youngstown State had 13 hits, one more than Illinois State, but was just 4-for-18 with runners on base and 2-for-10 with men in scoring position. Ten of the Redbirds' 13 runs came in two innings, and seven of their runs came after there were two outs.
Illinois State took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with back-to-back two-out hits, but the lead was short lived as Kendrick's grand slam put the Penguins up 4-1 in the bottom of the inning. Anthony Rohan and Shane Willoughby started the inning with singles, and the Penguins loaded the bases when Lorenzo Arcuri reached on a fielder's choice. Kendrick worked the count full before hitting his grand slam to center field.
Illinois State answered immediately in the top of the second, though, by scoring five runs to go up 6-4. Three of those runs scored after there were two outs and a runner on first base. The Redbirds added two more runs in the third to take an 8-4 lead.
Penguins relievers Alex Bellardini and Jesse Slinger combined to blank the Redbirds over 4.2 innings, which gave YSU a chance to rally. A leadoff double by Nico Padovan, a throwing error and a wild pitch allowed Youngstown State to have runners on second and third with no outs in the seventh. Kendrick brought in Padovan with a ground out to short, and Kyle Benyo singled home Arcuri to get the Penguins to within 8-6.
YSU had back-to-back one-out singles in the bottom of the eighth before Trevor Cross got Padovan to ground into an inning-ending double play, and the Redbirds proceeded to score five runs in the top of the ninth. John Rave hit a two-run homer with one out, and three more runs scored with two outs. Kendrick hit a one-out solo home run in the ninth for the final run of the game.
Benyo and Rohan both had three hits for YSU, and Web Charles registered two.
Illinois State's first six runs were scored on YSU starter Collin Floyd, and the Redbirds scored twice on Gino DiVincenzo. The other five runs went on closer Kevin Yarabinec's record, through three of those runs came after he was already in the dugout.
Owen Miller had three hits and four RBIs to pace the Redbirds offensively. The Penguins chased ISU starter Mitch Weis after an inning, but reliever Mitch Vogrin came in and struck out six batters in three shutout innings to earn the win.
Youngstown State will begin a three-game series at Georgia Tech on Friday at 4 p.m. The Penguins and Yellowjackets will also play on Saturday at 2 p.m. and on Sunday at 1 p.m.