Josh Merrigan is in his second season as pitching coach for the Youngstown State baseball program in 2017-18.
In his first year at Youngstown State, Merrigan and the YSU staff injected a new energy into the program. With largely the same roster from the previous season along with some late additions over the summer, the Penguins won more games during the 2017 regular season than in five of the previous six years. Additionally, YSU tied for its most Horizon League wins since 2009.
Youngstown State earned a pair of road wins over ranked opponents during the season. The Penguins earned a 12-3 victory at No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26 in what was Bertolini's first victory at YSU. The Penguins then won 11-6 at No. 29 Kent State on April 4.
Three senior pitchers were a big factor in the improvement for Youngstown State. Jeremy Quinlan battled through injuries to go 3-0 over nine starts with a 3.95 ERA. He earned complete-game victories in consecutive home starts in April, and YSU went on to have more complete games from its staff than in any of the previous seven years. Quinlan finished his career ranking seventh in school history in games started while also ranking among the top 20 in career innings and strikeouts.
Once Quinlan made his season debut in March, Joe King moved from the rotation to the closer role and stabilized the bullpen. King saved six games, which tied for the fourth most by a player in program history. He posted a 2.64 ERA after moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis and earned three wins in relief. King finished his career ranking ninth in program history in career saves while also ranking among the top 20 in appearances, games started and innings pitched.
Kevin Yarabinec began the season as the closer but was moved to the rotation in March. He struck out an impressive 39 batters in 42 innings, and he had a 1.65 ERA over his first three starts before the final two months of the season were affected by injuries. Yarabinec finished his Youngstown State career ranking sixth in program history with eight career saves, and his 61 career appearances rank 17th.
Merrigan came to Youngstown having served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, during the 2016 season. The Mustangs had a 44-16 record, and the pitching staff was a big contributor with 423 strikeouts, the ninth-most in the NAIA. Individually, closer Lance Spongberg ranked 18th in the country with eight saves.
Prior to his appointment at Morningside, Merrigan was the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Highland Community College (Highland, Kan.) in 2015. He served in the same capacity at Wayne State College (Wayne, Neb.) in 2014.
Before entering the college ranks, Merrigan served as an Associate Scout for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2008-13.
Merrigan guided several teams to state tournament appearances while coaching legion teams in South Dakota. His 2007 Sioux Falls Post 15 West team won South Dakota's "A" American Legion championship and finished third in the American Legion Central Plains Regional.
Merrigan was drafted three separate times in his playing career and pitched two seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from 2001-02. He was drafted for the first time in the 18th round of the 1997 MLB Draft out of Vermillion High School in South Dakota by the Montreal Expos. The Expos selected him again a year later in the 33rd round, and the Cardinals drafted him in the 17th round in 2001.
In 2001, he pitched for the New Jersey Cardinals in the New York-Penn League, which is the same league that the Youngstown-area Mahoning Valley Scrappers play in. Merrigan went on to pitch two seasons in the Northern League for the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Sioux City Explorers in 2003 and 2004. He was selected as a Northern League All-Star in 2003.
As a collegian, Merrigan pitched two seasons at Butler Community College where he posted a two-year record on the mound of 10-4 and earned all-conference honors. He went on to pitch as a junior and senior at Oklahoma State and was named Second-Team All-Big 12 in both seasons. He had a 16-6 record in his two seasons in Stillwater.
Merrigan earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Oklahoma State. He has a son named J.D.