The Youngstown State baseball team will wrap up a busy five-game week this weekend with three Horizon League contests at Valparaiso. The three-game series is scheduled to start on Valpo's Emory G. Bauer Field on Friday at noon Eastern. The game was pushed up four hours to try and avoid rain in the forecast. Games two and three are set for a Saturday doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. Eastern. Live stats and live audio are available on YSUsports.com. Valpo leads Youngstown State by one-and-a-half games in the Horizon League standings. The Crusaders are 6-3 in conference contests while YSU is 3-3. Valparaiso won the season series last year 3-2.
On the Mound
The Penguins will try a different combination on the weekend for the third straight week. Bill Turosky, Phil Klein and Robert Switka will start against Valpo, but the order has not been cemented. Klein, the reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week, will start game two and try for his fifth straight win. Klein has a 1.32 ERA over his last five starts, allowing five earned runs in 34 innings. Overall, Klein is 4-3 with a 4.24 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 46.2 innings. Turosky has not started yet this season, but he's been effective in seven relief appearances. An injury kept him sidelined until March 19, but he has a 3.52 ERA in 15.1 innings. Switka held Butler to three runs in seven innings in his last start in a no decision. He was even better two weeks ago at Le Moyne when he allowed one run in seven innings but did not factor into the decision. Switka is 1-4 with a 7.97 ERA in 40.2 innings.
Over the Last Week
YSU has gone 2-3 over the past seven days, taking two out of three against Butler over the weekend and losing twice to Kent State during the week. Butler cruised to a 15-1 win in the series opener on Friday, but the Penguins responded to sweep Saturday's doubleheader and win the series. Phil Klein did not allow an earned run in seven innings to pace YSU to a 5-1 game-one victory, and Phil Lipari's walk-off single capped a late rally in game two's 4-3 win. Kent State got the leadoff runner on seven times and scored five runs late to pull away from YSU in Tuesday's 7-0 victory. The Golden Flashes scored three unearned in the first inning and held the lead in a 5-2 win on Wednesday.
Valparaiso will carry a five-game winning streak into the weekend series with YSU. The Crusaders swept Cleveland State last weekend to improve to 6-3 in Horizon League play, which ranks them third in the standings. Pro prospect Kyle Gaedele leads the offense in most offensive categories, including a .328 batting average and a league-best 16 steals. Valpo ranks third in the conference in ERA and has a conference high 225 strikeouts. Justin Frane, Damon McCormick and Tyler Deetjen are the projected starters on the mound.
Iacobucci at 16 for Third Time
Senior outfielder Joe Iacobucci had a hitting streak stopped at 16 games for the third time in his career when he went 0-for-5 on Wednesday against Kent State. He had also reached base in 20 straight games, which was two shy of his personal best to end last season. The previous two streaks – as a redshirt freshman in 2008 and last year as a junior. Iacobucci is batting .418 over the last 22 games after staring the season 3-for-35.
Schroth Picking Up Offensively
Sophomore outfielder Neil Schroth has started to come on lately at the plate and has brought his average up to .298. Schroth has a hit in eight of his last 10 games is batting .368 since March 16. His average was at .148 on March 13.
YSU Playing Well on Weekends
Although Youngstown State is 8-22 overall this season, the Penguins are 7-6 in weekend games over the last four weeks. YSU split four games at the Panther Classic on March 18-20, went 1-2 at Wright State on March 25-26 and took two of three games against Le Moyne and Butler the past two weekends. All of YSU's wins this season have come on Friday through Sunday. The Penguins are 0-5 in games played Monday through Thursday.
Klein Named Horizon League Pitcher of the Week
YSU's Phil Klein was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season on April 10. Klein pitched seven strong innings against Butler on Saturday to win his fourth consecutive start. He held the Bulldogs to four singles and three walks while striking out 10 batters. He allowed just one unearned run after Butler had 15 runs and 18 hits the previous night.
Over his last five starts, Klein has a 1.32 ERA in 34 innings. He has allowed just five earned runs and struck out 40 batters. Klein leads the Horizon League with 54 strikeouts in 46.2 innings. He was also recognized as the League's Pitcher of the Week on March 21.
McCulloh Earns Combo
Sophomore righty Kevin McCulloh was moved to the back of the bullpen to help add stability for the late innings last weekend, and he answered the call immediately. McCulloh came on with the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning in game one of Saturday's doubleheader against Butler and held YSU's lead to earn his first save. He was then credited with the win in game two as YSU rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth.
Quality Starts Are Key
Youngstown State has gotten a quality start - three earned runs or fewer in at least six innings - from its pitchers 10 times this season, and the Penguins are 8-2 in those games. They are 0-19 when they don't get a quality start. In the eight wins, YSU's starting pitchers have allowed 11 earned runs in 56 innings for an ERA of 1.77. Their strikeout-to-walk ratio is 4.08 to 1 (53 strikeouts and 13 walks). In the 22 losses, the starting pitchers have allowed 94 earned runs in 98.2 innings for an ERA of 8.57. Their strikeout-to-walk ratio is 1.18 to 1 (70 strikeouts, 59 walks) in losses.
Leon Working His Way Back
Junior shortstop and leadoff hitter David Leon returned from an eight-game absence on April 8 and has hit safely in four of his five games since coming back. He's had two hits in three of the last four contests to raise his average to .272. He has both of YSU's home runs. Starting third baseman Drew Dosch has missed the last 10 games and has not played since March 26 at Wright State. He went 8-for-13 in his last three games before the injury.