Baseball Heads to Chicago to Start Horizon League Play

Shane Willoughby (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Shane Willoughby (Photo by Ron Stevens)

The Youngstown State baseball team will begin Horizon League play this weekend with a three-game series at UIC's Curtis Granderson Stadium. After a weather postponement on Friday, the Penguins and Flames will play on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eastern, and they will play a doubleheader on Sunday starting at noon Eastern. Live audio all weekend will be available through UICFlames.com.

The Penguins enter conference play under first year head coach Dan Bertolini with a 2-11 mark. Youngstown State is coming off an 8-5 victory at Richmond on Sunday, which wrapped up a seven-game road trip that spanned 10 days. YSU trailed the Spiders 5-1 through seven innings but rallied with a run in the eighth and six more in the ninth inning to post an 8-5 win. Youngstown State's other victory came at No. 17 Georgia Tech, 12-3, on Feb. 26.

Youngstown State has shown that it is a much larger power threat at the plate this season as it leads the Horizon League with 19 home runs, a .414 slugging percentage and 189 total bases. The Penguins already have seven more home runs than they did all of last season, and their slugging percentage is 126 points higher. YSU has had two national players of the week in the first four weeks of the season with Andrew Kendrick earning the distinction in the opening week and Lorenzo Arcuri earning it this past week. Kendrick has twice been named the Horizon League Batter of the Week, and Arcuri is the reigning recipient. Nico Padovan owns the Penguins' top average at .359.

Sophomore left-hander Collin Floyd will start on Saturday for Youngstown State, and he will be followed by Kevin Yarabinec in game two of the series. The starter for the series finale has not been announced. Floyd earned the win against No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26, and he is coming off his second best start of the season at Richmond last week. He held the Spiders to two earned runs on five hits over five innings. Yarabinec, YSU's closer to begin the season, made his first start last weekend and allowed one earned run on one hit in 5-1/3 innings. UIC will counter with left-hander Jake Dahlberg on Saturday and righties Reid Birlingmair and Jack Andersen on Sunday.

Scouting UIC: UIC enters this week's series with a 7-6 record and on a three game winning streak. The Flames won two out of three at No. 7 Vanderbilt the second week of the second season, and UIC's last three victories have come over Northwestern and Chicago State (twice). Two Flames have been named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week in the first four weeks of the season. Connor Ryan was the league's honoree on Feb. 27 after the Vanderbilt series, and Dahlberg is the reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week. Offensively, the Flames lead the league in batting average, and David Cronin is hitting .392 individually.

Arcuri Ties Two School Records: Senior outfielder Lorenzo Arcuri tied two school records last week by hitting home runs and registering 13 total bases in a game against Morhead State. The game began on March 7 and was continued on March 8. Arcuri joined Eric Marzec (2008) and Jim Lipinski (2001) with three homers and Marzec (2008) and Rob Armstrong (1988) with 13 total bases. Arcuri has five home runs this season after not hitting any in his first three seasons.

Yarabinec Back in Starting Role: Senior right-handed pitcher Kevin Yarabinec moved from the closer role into the rotation last weekend at Richmond, and he is projected to start Sunday against the Flames. Yarabinec allowed one earned run on one hit over 5-1/3 innings against the Spiders in a no-decision. It was his first start since March 15, 2015.