After two cancellations during the week, the Youngstown State baseball team will refocus on Horizon League play as it travels to Butler for a three-game series this weekend. The Penguins and Bulldogs will open the series on Friday at 3 p.m., and they will also play Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at noon. Live audio with Butler’s announcers and live stats will be available all weekend through YSUsports.com and butlersports.com.
YSU enters the weekend series against Butler riding a season-best three-game winning streak. The Penguins earned their first-ever series sweep of UIC last weekend, beating the Flames 11-3, 9-7 and 9-0. YSU scored 29 runs in the three-game series, which nearly equaled the 34 runs it scored in the first 13 games of April. Youngstown State also got outstanding efforts from its starting rotation in the three-game series as Russ Harless, Ryan Krokos and Blake Aquadro combined to allow three earned runs in 19 1-3 innings.
On the Mound
With their strong outing last weekend, YSU head coach Rich Pasquale will send Harless, Krokos and Aquadro to the mound again this weekend against Butler. Harless and Krokos, both right-handers, will throw games one and two, and lefty Aquadro will toss the finale. That same group has started each of the past two weekends.
- Harless earned his first collegiate victory in his start last Friday against UIC. The freshman right-hander held the Flames to two earned runs (three total) on six hits and a walk in six innings. Harless has pitched at least six innings in all three of his Horizon League starts and has allowed three earned runs total in his last 16 innings. He has a 13-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio over that span. For the year, Harless is 1-4 with a 4.59 ERA in 51 innings while posting a 38-to-8 strike-out to walk ratio.
- Krokos grinded through 4 1-3 innings against UIC last Sunday, but the redshirt freshman right-hander allowed just one run. He surrendered five hits and three walks while striking out one and exited with a pitch count near 100. Krokos will be making his fourth start of the season and his third consecutive start in game two of a conference series. He has held opponents to one run or fewer in two of his starts. For the year, Krokos is 2-2 with a 5.98 ERA in 40 2-3 innings.
- Aquadro, the reigning Horizon League Pitcher, is scheduled to make his YSU and Horizon League-leading 12th start Sunday against the Bulldogs. The last time Aquadro took the mound, the junior southpaw threw YSU’s first nine-inning shutout in eight years. He held UIC to eight hits and three walks while striking out three in what was his first victory of the season. In his last start against Butler, he allowed seven runs in five innings. For the year, Aquadro is 1-8 with a 7.53 ERA in 63 1-3 innings.
Butler has lost 10 of its last 12 games dating back to April 13, which has lowered its record to 20-25 overall and 8-13 in league play. The Bulldogs lost two of three at Wright State last weekend and let a late 5-3 lead slip away in the eighth at Notre Dame on Tuesday. Pat Gelwicks leads Butler at the late with a .357 batting average and 40 runs scored, and he is one of four regulars hitting above .285. First baseman Jimmy Risi leads the Horizon League with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs. Butler will start left-handers Brad Schnitzer and Eric Stout on Friday and Sunday, and righty Dom Silvestri will start Saturday. Schnitzer is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA in 20 appearances, only four of which are starts. Silvestri is 3-3 with a 5.96 ERA in 10 appearances, nine of which have been starts. Stout will be making his seventh start and 16th appearance, and he is 3-3 with a 5.71 ERA. Chase Byerly ranks second in the Horizon League with nine saves. Butler is three games ahead of YSU in the Horizon League standings.
Production Throughout the Line-Up
The Penguins had consistent production throughout the lineup over the weekend in their sweep of UIC. They had hits in 20 of their 24 innings at the plate, and the nine players who registered at least five at bats all scored at least two runs. Six players with more than 10 at bats hit at least .333, and Drew Dosch, Jeremy Banks and Jason Shirley all had batting averages of at least .500.
Ending April on a High Note
YSU struggled offensively in April leading up to last weekend, but the Penguins now enter May with confidence as high as it's been all season. YSU hit .346 and averaged 12.3 hits and 9.7 runs in the three games against UIC last weekend. The Penguins were hitting .247 and averaging 8.2 hits and 2.6 runs per game in their first 13 games of the month. The biggest difference over the past weekend was hitting in the clutch. YSU was 14-for-38 (.368) with runners in scoring position and had 17 two-out RBIs in the three-game series against the Flames. The Penguins were hitting .183 and had 11 two-out RBIs in the first 13 games in April.
Banks, Aquadro Sweep Weekly Awards
Senior designated hitter Jeremy Banks and junior pitcher Blake Aquadro are the reigning Horizon League Players of the Week for their contributions in the Penguins' sweep of UIC. Banks batted .636 with seven hits in 11 at bats in three games for YSU, reaching base at least twice in each game. He had three RBIs in YSU's 11-3 win on Friday and added three more in YSU's 9-0 win in the series finale. Banks was 4-for-4 in the finale and recorded his 200th career hit with an eighth-inning single. Aquadro pitched the Penguins' first nine-inning complete-game shutout since 2004 against UIC on Sunday. The junior southpaw scattered eight hits and struck out three while throwing 144 pitches. Only one of the Flames' hits went for extra bases.
Banks Collects 200th Hit
Senior Jeremy Banks became the 10th player in school history to record 200 career hits on Sunday with an eighth-inning single to left field. Banks has 200 hits exactly - 42 this season, 64 in 2011, 56 in 2010 and 38 as a freshman in 2009. Kendall Schlabach is the school record holder with 265 hits from 2001-04, and third on the all-time list in Justin Banks, Jeremy's older brother. Justin Banks had 249 hits in 778 at bats for a .320 batting average in his career from 2003-06. Jeremy Banks is 200-for-623 for a .321 batting average. The list of YSU players with 200 career hits is below.
- Kendall Schlabach - 265 (2001-04)
- Erich Diedrich - 252 (2005-08)
- Justin Banks - 249 (2003-06)
- Brandon Caipen - 247 (2003-06)
- John Koehnlein - 245 (2006-09)
- Joe Iacobucci - 245 (2008-11)
- Josh Page - 233 (2005-08)
- Charles Schultz - 219 (2003-06)
- Todd Santore - 202 (1998-2001)
- Jeremy Banks - 200 (2009-present)
Dosch Named Academic All-District
Sophomore third baseman Drew Dosch was named Capital One Academic All-District on Thursday, becoming the first YSU baseball player since 2008 to earn the honor. Dosch, a sophomore from Canal Winchester, Ohio, holds a 4.0 grade-point average in social studies education. He is batting .367 with team highs of 29 runs scored and six home runs for YSU in 2012. The third baseman has added seven doubles and five steals while posting a .518 slugging percentage and a .427 on-base percentage. He ranks third in the Horizon League in batting average, home runs and total bases while also ranking among the top 10 in slugging percentage, hits, on-base percentage, walks, runs scored and RBIs.
Shirley, Harless Among League’s Top Freshmen
Youngstown State freshmen Jason Shirley and Russ Harless will have strong credentials when it comes to voting on the Horizon League All-Newcomer Team in a few weeks. Shirley leads all Horizon League freshmen in runs scored with 27, and he is second among conference freshman with his .310 batting average. Harless has the most strikeouts among all freshmen in the league and ranks second among freshmen in innings pitched.
Youngstown State will have finals this upcoming week, then welcome Wright State to Eastwood Field for a three-game series. Game one of the set will be Friday at 3 p.m., and the Penguins will recognized seniors Jeremy Banks and David Leon prior to Sunday’s game that starts at noon.