|Youngstown State at Valparaiso, Wright State|
|Friday - 1 p.m. ET||at Valparaiso - Live Stats
|Friday - 4 p.m. ET||at Valparaiso - Live Stats|
|Saturday - 1 p.m.||at Wright State - Live Stats
|Saturday - 4 p.m.||at Wright State - Live Stats
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The Youngstown State baseball team begins its final stretch of Horizon League play this week with a pair of Horizon League doubleheaders. The Penguins will play two games at Valparaiso beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern on Friday, and they will play two more at Wright State on Saturday at 1 p.m. Live stats for all four contests will be available through links on YSUsports.com. Youngstown State will conclude conference play next weekend with two more Horizon League doubleheaders.
Last Week: Youngstown State went 3-1 last week with a win at Canisius and two wins over Valparaiso. The Penguins beat the Golden Griffins 4-2 last Tuesday behind 6-2/3 innings of shutout relief from their bullpen. YSU then rallied twice to win in its last at bat in a doubleheader sweep of Valpo, 6-5 and 9-7, on Friday at Eastwood Field. The Penguins lost the series finale to the Crusaders, 10-7.
Standings Update: By taking two of three games against Valparaiso last weekend, the Penguins moved to within a half game of both the Crusaders and Oakland in the Horizon League standings. Youngstown State is 8-14 in conference games, and Valpo and Oakland are both 7-12. Milwaukee swept the Golden Grizzlies last weekend to improve its record to 6-13, which is a game-and-a-half behind the Penguins. YSU is the only team that hasn't had its conference bye week yet, which means it has played three more league games than any other team.
- 16-3 -- UIC
- 15-4 -- Wright State
- 9-10 -- Northern Kentucky
- 7-12 -- Oakland
- 7-12 -- Valparaiso
- 8-14 -- Youngstown State
- 6-13 -- Milwaukee
Yarabinec Makes Return: Senior right-hander Kevin Yarabinec made his first appearance on the mound in nearly a month on Friday against Valparaiso. Yarabinec pitched two innings out of the bullpen and allowed one run on two hits while striking out three batters. Yarabinec began the season as YSU's closer but moved into the rotation on March 11. He made four starts before missing from March 31 to April 28 with a right arm injury.
A Rallying Theme: Youngstown State came from behind in all three of its victories last week. The Penguins trailed Canisius 2-1 after four innings before scoring three runs in the fifth in the 4-2 win. In game one of Friday's doubleheader against Valparaiso, YSU scored a run in the eighth to tie the score and set up Alex Larivee's walk-off double in the bottom of the ninth in the 6-5 win. The Penguins then trailed 7-4 in game two before a five-run outburst in the bottom of the eighth.
Quick Notes Around the Diamond
- As the calendar flips to May, Youngstown State has already matched its overall win total from 2016 and surpassed its conference win total by three. There are 14 games left on the regular-season schedule.
- Since starting the season 2-14, YSU is 12-14 over its last 26 games.
- YSU has two games remaining against each of the four teams ranking second through fifth in the Horizon League standings – Wright State, Northern Kentucky, Oakland and Valparaiso.
- Youngstown State played the bulk of its home schedule to close April by playing nine out of 10 at Eastwood Field from April 18-30. The Penguins have five home games remaining, and two of those will be part of a doubleheader against Northern Kentucky on May 13.
- Youngstown State has hit 41 home runs in 42 games this season. The Penguins have hit more homers in a season just twice in their history – 60 in 2010 and 43 in 1995. YSU had not hit more than 20 dingers in a season since that record-setting campaign in 2010.
- Junior first baseman Andrew Kendrick has hit a school-record 14 homes runs this season. He ranks 15th in the country in home runs, and he is eighth nationally with 0.37 home runs per game.
- While Kendrick has 14 round-trippers, sophomore outfielder/DH Kyle Benyo has hit eight homers. That is tied for the 14th-most by a Penguin in program history. Erich Diedrich is the only YSU sophomore to hit more than eight home runs – he had nine in 2006. Drew Dosch, Andrew Clough and Jeff Stofko are the only other Penguins sophomores with eight homers.
- Jeremy Quinlan made his season debut on March 19, and he is 3-0 with a 3.55 ERA in his seven starts. He is one of two players two pitch a complete game in a pair of Horizon League games.
- Since moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis, Joe King has a 2.15 ERA in 29-1/3 innings, which have spanned 15 appearances. He has three wins and five saves as a reliever. King had pitched 13-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings before allowing two runs against Valparaiso on Sunday.
Scouting Valparaiso: Having just completed a three-game series on Sunday, Valparaiso and YSU will be playing for the fourth and fifth time in eight days when they play this Friday. The Crusaders have an 18-25 overall record and a 7-12 mark in conference play, which is tied for fourth and just a half game ahead of YSU. Junior outfielder Giovanni Garbella is the reigning Horizon League Batter of the Week after hitting .583 against the Penguins. Valparaiso will start Mario Losi and Jon Tieman against YSU on Friday. Last week, YSU scored four runs on 10 hits over seven innings against Losi. Tieman surrendered three runs, only one of which was earned, in four innings.
Scouting Wright State: Wright State is second in the Horizon League standings with a 15-4 record in conference play. The Raiders won their first 11 league games of the season before YSU's Jeremy Quinlan beat them on April 9, and Wright State is 4-4 in its last eight conference contests to drop a game behind first-place UIC. WSU ranks second in the Horizon League with a 3.49 team ERA, which helps offset a .256 team batting average.
Next Week: With final exams behind them, the Penguins are scheduled to play six games next week. YSU will play at Toledo on Tuesday and at Pittsburgh on Wednesday before hosting Northern Kentucky in a doubleheader on Saturday. Youngstown State will conclude the weekend with a doubleheader at Oakland next Sunday.