The Youngstown State baseball team will conclude the 2012 regular season this week with four games in a five-day span, starting with a special Kids Day game at home against Pittsburgh on Tuesday. First pitch at Eastwood Field against the Panthers is set for 11 a.m., and more than 4,000 students from the Youngstown area are expected to attend. General admission tickets for the public will be $5 apiece and sold at the Scrappers Box Office. Live stats and live video will be available on YSUsports.com. The Penguins will then travel for a three-game series at Valparaiso Thursday through Saturday. The contests on Thursday and Friday will start at 4 p.m. Eastern, and Saturday's finale will begin at 2 p.m. Eastern.
On the Mound
Sophomore Patrick O'Brien made his first appearance in more than a month on Friday against Wright State, and he will move into the rotation for two starts this week. The right-hander is slated to start Tuesday's game against Pitt and Saturday's finale at Valpo. Righty Russ Harless will pitch Thursday's opener at Valpo, and he'll be followed by southpaw Blake Aquadro on Friday.
O'Brien pitched 2 2-3 innings in relief against Wright State on Friday in what was his first appearance since April 5. It was also his game out of the bullpen in 2012. He allowed 10 runs, though only two were earned, in 2-3 of an inning at Wright State on April 5 in his last start. Prior to that, he had allowed two earned runs over his previous 12 innings. For the year, O'Brien is 1-5 with a 6.28 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 15 walks in 38 2-3 innings.
Harless was roughed up for nine runs (eight earned) on 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings in his last start against Wright State on Friday. Before the start against the Raiders, he had picked up wins in back-to-back starts and surrendered six earned runs over a 20-inning span. The freshman has a 42-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 5.34 ERA in 62 1-3 innings. Harless leads all Horizon League freshmen with 42 strikeouts while ranking second with 62 1-3 innings.
Aquadro will be making his team and Horizon League-leading 13th start. The junior left-hander also ranks eighth in the conference in innings pitched with 73 2-3. He allowed three earned runs on five hits in 5 1-3 innings against Wright State on Saturday, and he had won each of his previous two starts. On April 29, he threw a complete game shutout against UIC. That performance earned him Horizon League Pitcher-of-the-Week honors.
Pittsburgh enters this week with a 26-24 overall record and a 9-15 mark in Big East play. The Panthers were swept in a doubleheader at Seton Hall on Saturday. Senior Rick Devereaux ranks third in the Big East with a .371 batting average and is second in RBIs with 54. Five other starters are hitting between .303 and .318.
Valparaiso enters the week with a 29-22 overall mark and a 19-8 record in Horizon League play. The Crusaders are a game behind first place Wright State in the conference standings. Andrew Bain is the squad's top hitter at .320, but six of the other regulars are hitting at least .278. Valpo leads the Horizon League with a 3.50 ERA, and all three of its starters have pitched at least 87 innings and have an ERA under 3.7. Lefty Tyler Deetjen (5-2, 3.68 ERA) will start game one, and he'll be followed by right-handers Kevin Wild (5-3, 2.77 ERA) and Kyle Wormington (5-5, 3.30 ERA).
About School Day Game
The Youngstown State baseball program is partnering with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers to present a special School Day game on Tuesday. The partnership is in its second season, and more than 4,000 students from Youngstown-area schools are expected to be in attendance. The students receive a game ticket, lunch and a curriculum upon admission.