Solid Pitching Prevalent in Baseball’s Split at Miller Park

Robert Switka
Robert Switka

Milwaukee, Wis. -- Strong pitching was a common theme for both the Youngstown State baseball team and Milwaukee on Friday evening as the teams split a Horizon League doubleheader at Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Robert Switka retired 19 straight batters after allowing a first-inning homer in game one, and YSU scored a run in the 10th inning to win 3-2. Milwaukee's Chad Pierce did not allow a hit until a leadoff single in the sixth as the Panthers won game two 8-0 in seven innings. With the split, YSU remains a game-and-a-half behind Milwaukee in the Horizon League standings with a conference record of 6-7.

Jeremy Banks singled in David Leon to give the Penguins a 1-0 lead in the top of the first of game one, and Milwaukee had its only success against Switka in the bottom half. Switka retired the first two batters of the frame, but Doug Dekoning singled and Paul Hoenecke followed with a two-run homer to right on the first pitch of his at bat.

Pierce hit a harmless single to center, and Jonathan Capasso grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning. Switka went on to retire the Panthers in order in each of the next six innings, and two Milwaukee errors in the top of the seventh allowed him to escape being the hard-luck loser. Phil Lipari reached on an error to start the inning and went to second on Jonathan Crist's sacrifice bunt. Armani Johnson struck out for the second out, and David Leon was beaned to put runners on first and second with two outs. Neil Schroth then hit an infield single to third, and Sam Koenig's wild throw to first allowed Lipari to score the tying run.

YSU reliever Kevin McCulloh allowed one hit in the eighth, and he escaped a sticky situation in the ninth to give the Penguins their chance in the 10th. The Panthers put runners on first and second with nobody out in the ninth, but McCulloh got Pierce to pop up a bunt for an out. He then struck out Capasso, and Dekoning was retired after a rundown between second and third.

Leon and Schroth hit back-to-back singles to start the 10th, and Banks' sacrifice bunt advanced them to second and third with one out. Joe Iacobucci was walked intentionally to load the bases, and Drew Dosch came through to hit a sacrifice fly to center that brought in Leon with the game winner.

McCulloh retired the Panthers in order in the bottom of the 10th to earn his fourth win of the season.

Schroth was 3-for-5 in the opener, and Leon and Banks had two hits apiece. The trio, hitting first through third in the order, accounted for seven of YSU's nine hits in the game.

Switka allowed just the three first-inning hits in the no-decision. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.

"Switka was great after the homer," YSU head coach Rich Pasquale said. "He had their hitters off balance and gave us a chance to win."

"McCulloh was outstanding with runners in scoring position and made great pitches. He's a bulldog. We also had some great defense and clutch hits. It was a great team win."

UWM starter Eric Semmelhack allowed one earned run in 6.2 innings. Greg Blohowiak was charged with the loss after allowing the run in the 10th.

In game two, YSU starter Blake Aquadro game the Penguins a chance to win as he allowed two runs through the first four innings. The visitors couldn't muster up anything besides a two-out walk in the third against Pierce, and the Panthers blew the game open with five runs in the fifth.

After the long bottom of the fifth, Greg Dissinger broke up Pierce's no-hitter with nobody out in the top of the sixth. The senior right-hander struck out pinch-hitter Chris Mitko for the first out, and Leon hit into an inning-ending double play.

The Panthers got an unearned run in the bottom of the sixth, and Pierce worked around a one-out walk in the seventh to preserve the shutout.

Pierce improved to 4-3 while Aquadro dropped to 0-7.

Youngstown State will travel home to prepare for a doubleheader on Sunday against UIC. First pitch against the Flames at Eastwood Field is set for noon.