The Youngstown State baseball team will play four games in a four-day span this week, starting with a doubleheader at Kent State on Tuesday. The Penguins and Golden Flashes will play two seven-inning games starting at 4 p.m., and YSU will host West Virginia under the lights on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Eastwood Field. YSU will then play at Cene Park for the first, and only scheduled time, on Friday at 3 p.m. against Alderson-Broaddus. Live video of Wednesday's game will be streamed on HorizonLeague.com, and live coverage of YSU's other contests this week will be available through YSUsports.com.
Youngstown State went 2-3 last week, splitting its midweek games and winning one of three games over the weekend against UIC. The Penguins lost 11-9 at Pittsburgh last Tuesday before rebounding with a 13-4 victory at Toledo on Wednesday. YSU kept up its hot stretch at the plate by scoring 23 runs in the first two games of the UIC series, but it was only able to win one of those two contests. The Penguins spotted the Flames a 10-2 head start on Friday and, despite cutting the margin to one after seven innings, were never able to catch up. YSU then got seven solid innings from starter Patrick O'Brien on Saturday and blew the game open with a seven-run seventh to win 12-7. The Penguins dropped the final 5-4 after failing to capitalize on opportunities with runners on base throughout the contest.
The Penguins have raised their team batting average 24 points over the last 12 games, going from .237 on April 5 to the current mark of .261. Youngstown State is averaging 6.83 runs over the past dozen contests, a big improvement from the three runs per game it was averaging in the first 28 contests. Jason Shirley is batting .414 over the last 12 games, and reigning Horizon League Batter of the Week Drew Dosch is hitting .388.
Senior left-hander Blake Aquadro (2-6, 5.30 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Josh North (0-1, 8.40 ERA) will start on the mound Tuesday, and freshman lefty Jared Wight (1-1, 5.27 ERA) will start on Wednesday. Aquadro is the Penguins' normal Friday starter and will likely be on a pitch count. North will be making his first start of the season and just the second of his career. He's made 14 appearances out of the bullpen this year. Wight will be making his fourth start and for the third time in the last three weeks. He earned his first collegiate win at Toledo last Wednesday. YSU's starter for Friday's game has not been announced.
Next week, YSU will host Kent State on May 1 before a three-game series with Wright State on May 3-5 at Eastwood Field.
Scouting Kent State: Kent State is 19-19 overall and 9-6 in Mid-American Conference games. The Golden Flashes, one year removed from a trip to the College World Series, had won five straight games before being swept at Buffalo over the weekend. Kent State is 7-2 at Schoonover Stadium. The Golden Flashes lead the MAC in runs and rank second in batting average, and their 4.32 staff ERA ranks fifth in the conference.
Scouting West Virginia: West Virginia has won six of its last eight games to improve to 23-18 overall and 6-6 in Big 12 games. The Mountaineers won two of three games at Texas over the weekend to even their conference record. WVU is batting .284 as a team, ranking fourth in the Big 12, and its 3.93 staff ERA ranks eighth. YSU is 1-2 against West Virginia this season with a win on Feb. 22 in Winston-Salem, N.C.