Ohio State, Home Opener Await Baseball This Week

Andrew Kendrick
Andrew Kendrick

The Youngstown State baseball team will play at Ohio State and Tuesday and host Oakland in its first series of the season at Eastwood Field this week. Tuesday's game against the Buckeyes will begin at 5:05 p.m. and streamed live on BTN Plus. The Penguins and Golden Grizzlies are scheduled to play at 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

YSU enters this week on a three-game skid from a sweep at UIC that opened Horizon League play over the weekend. The Penguins struggled against the Flames' pitching with two runs in the three-game series. YSU, which came into the game leading the conference in home runs, slugging percentage and total bases, was held without an extra-base hit in Chicago.

Youngstown State made plenty of contact in the series with just 16 strikeouts in 30 innings, but the Penguins had an irregular .154 batting average on balls in play. UIC had just five extra-base hits in the series, including a walk-off double in the 12th inning in the finale. The Flames won the series opener 10-2, and both games in Sunday's doubleheader were low scoring at 3-0 and 1-0.

Nico Padovan is hitting a team-high .314 with a .407 on-base percentage, and Andrew Kendrick tops the lineup with six home runs and 16 RBIs. Lorenzo Arcuri has five home runs and a team-high 13 runs scored. Youngstown State has six starters hitting above .250, and each of them have the highest batting averages of their careers.

Youngstown State will keep the same rotation this weekend, and Chris Sparks will make his first start of the season on Tuesday against Ohio State. Sparks, a sophomore right-hander, pitched 1-1/3 shutout innings at Eastern Kentucky on March 3 in his only outing this season. The Penguins will send lefty Collin Floyd to the mound for the series opener against Oakland on Friday, and he'll be followed by right-handers Kevin Yarabinec and Jeremy Quinlan. Floyd earned the win at Georgia Tech on Feb. 26, and he has allowed two earned runs in each of his previous two starts. Yarabinec, YSU's closer to start the season, has been fantastic as a starter with two earned runs over 10-1/3 innings. Quinlan made his first start of the season at UIC after missing the four weeks of the season with an injury, and he pitched three shutout innings.

YSU will be on the road next week with a game at Bowling Green on March 28 and a three-game series at Northern Kentucky beginning on March 31.

Scouting Ohio State: Ohio State is 8-11 this season and will be looking to bounce back from being swept by Xavier in three one-run games over the weekend. The Buckeyes are batting .242 as a team, and Tre' Gantt leads the offense with a .352 average and a .989 OPS. Sophomore left-hander Connor Curlis, who is has a 3.29 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 13-2/3 innings, will start for Ohio State against YSU.

Scouting Oakland: Oakland has a 1-16 record this season and will be playing its Horizon League opener on Friday. Zach Sterry leads the Horizon League with 18 RBIs, and he also leads Oakland with a .338 average and a .632 slugging percentage. The Golden Grizzlies are led by first-year co-head coaches Jacke Healey, a YSU alumnus, and Colin Kaline.

Tuesday Concludes Season-Opening Road Stretch: Tuesday's game at Ohio State will end a 17-game road stretch to open the season for Youngstown State. The Penguins will have played in eight stadiums in six different states before playing at Eastwood Field on Friday.

Quinlan Returns to Rotation: Senior right-hander Jeremy Quinlan made his season debut in the series finale at UIC on Sunday. He blanked the Flames over three innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out three batters. Quinlan missed the four weeks of the season with an upper-body injury. He made 14 starts and led Penguins' starters in ERA last season.