Baseball Set for League Home Opener vs. Butler This Weekend

Padraic Williams
Padraic Williams

The Youngstown State baseball team will try to play its Eastwood Field opener for the third time this season when Butler comes to town for a three-game series. The Penguins and Bulldogs are scheduled to start the Horizon League series on Friday at 3 p.m. and conclude it with a doubleheader on Saturday starting at noon. Live stats and free live video will be available for each game. YSU was previously rained out against Penn State-Behrend on March 23 and Niagara on March 30.

The Penguins are 6-19 overall and 1-2 in Horizon League play while Butler is 11-13 overall and 3-3 in conference contests. The series could prove to be crucial as the teams were picked to finish tied-for-fifth in the conference in a preseason poll of the league's coaches. The teams have also finished next to each other in the league standings in four of the past five seasons.

On the Mound

The Penguins will have a different weekend rotation for the first time this season against the Bulldogs. Sophomore left-hander Blake Aquadro will start Friday's opener, and Phil Klein and Robert Switka will start on Saturday. Aquadro took the place of Kevin McCulloh, who has changed roles to help solidify the bullpen. Aquadro has made one midweek start the season and pitched 10 times in relief. In his lone start, he allowed three runs on five hits in six innings at Pittsburgh on March 19. Overall, Aquadro is 0-3 with an 8.51 ERA in 24.1 innings. He allowed six runs in 0.2 innings in a start at Butler in 2010. Klein is on the hottest stretch of his standout career. He has allowed just five earned runs over his last four starts, which has spanned 27 innings. Klein is 3-3 with a 4.99 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. He has not beaten Butler since April 5, 2009. Switka has pitched well in two of his last three starts. He held Le Moyne to one run on six hits on Sunday in a no-decision. He earned his first collegiate win by defeating Toledo on March 18, allowing two earned runs in seven innings. Overall, Switka is 1-4 with an 8.82 ERA in 33.2 innings.

Recapping the Last Week

YSU has gone 2-2 over the past week (since April 1), taking two out of three games at Le Moyne over the weekend and losing at Akron on Tuesday. At Le Moyne, the Dolphins won the first game of the series 8-4, but the Penguins rebounded to win the next two games 5-1 and 6-4. Phil Klein threw a seven-inning complete game in the 5-1 victory on Saturday, and the Penguins got strong outings on the mound from Robert Switka and Bill Turosky in the 6-4 victory that lasted 17 innings. Joe Iacobucci hit .533 against Le Moyne. At Akron, YSU was held to five hits in a 5-0 losss on Tuesday.

Scouting Butler

Butler is 11-13 overall and 3-3 in Horizon League play. The Bulldogs won two out of three games against Valparaiso to start league play but dropped two out of three at Milwaukee last weekend. Butler lost 10-8 to Purdue on Wednesday. The Bulldogs lead the conference with 13 home runs, and they are hitting .277 as a team. Righthanders Dom Silvestri (1-2, 3.62 ERA), Jared Wagoner (3-2, 4.79 ERA) and Mike Hernandez (2-3, 7.56 ERA) will start for the Bulldogs, who lead the Horizon League with 7.73 strikeouts per nine innings.

Iacobucci on Impressive Run

Senior outfielder Joe Iacobucci has hit safely in 12 straight games and reached base in 16 consecutive contests dating back to March 12. What's more impressive, he was batting just .086 (3-for-35) through the first 10 games of the campaign. Since then, Iacobucci is hitting .431 (25-for-58) over the last 15 contests.

Leon Working His Way Back

Junior shortstop David Leon is hoping to make a return to the line-up this weekend against Butler. Leon has been out the last eight games and has not played since March 20 at Toledo. Leon is batting .246 with both of YSU's home runs. He was the leadoff hitter in each of YSU's first 17 games. Starting third baseman Drew Dosch has missed the last five games and has not played since March 26 at Wright State. He went 8-for-13 in his last three games before the injury.

Guins are Third in RPI among League Teams

The NCAA released the RPI for the first time this season, and Youngstown State has the third-highest ranking in the Horizon League. The Penguins are ranked 245th in the RPI, behind league teams Wright State (134) and UIC (205). Cleveland State (247) is fourth among league squads while Milwaukee is fifth (253), Valparaiso (269) is sixth and Butler (287) is seventh.