The Youngstown State baseball team will play the closest to campus so far this season with four games this weekend at the University of Pittsburgh Panther Classic. The Penguins will start their weekend on Saturday with a game against Manhattan at 10:30 a.m., and they'll play the host Panthers at 1:30 p.m. YSU will then play the Jaspers at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, and the Penguins will wrap up their weekend against Pitt on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. Live stats links will be available throughout the weekend on YSUsports.com.
The Penguins are coming off a 10-7 victory over Morehead State on Tuesday in game two of a doubleheader played in Gastonia, N.C. Marcus Heath hit a go-ahead three-run home run in the top of the eighth inning, and closer Nic Manuppelli worked out of a bases-loaded jam with nobody out in the eighth to preserve the win. The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak for the Penguins, who enter this weekend with a 3-11 record.
Drew Dosch is the reigning Horizon League Player of the Week after hitting .357 with two doubles and a home run last week. Dosch is batting .340 and has a team-high nine extra-base hits, and newcomers Kris Moules (.354) and Mike Accardi (.321) are also batting above .320. Those three players have accounted for 32 of YSU's 53 runs scored and 51 of its 102 base hits.
Game 1 vs. Manhattan – Patrick O'Brien is 1-2 with a 4.76 ERA in three starts so far this season. The junior right-hander held Samford to one run on two hits while striking out four on Feb. 17 to earn YSU's first win of the season. He allowed four earned runs in six innings against West Virginia on Feb. 23, and he surrendered four earned runs in five innings in his last start at Charlotte on March 1. He is scheduled to face right-hander John Soldinger (0-2, 4.85 ERA).
Game 2 vs. Pittsburgh – Blake Aquadro is 1-2 with a 4.20 ERA over his first three starts. The senior left-hander has pitched better every week and did not allow an earned run in seven innings at Charlotte on March 2. He did not factor in that decision, but he beat West Virginia in his previous start on Feb. 22. Pitt is scheduled to counter with right-hander Ethan Mildren (1-1, 4.50 ERA).
Game 3 vs. Manhattan – Ryan Krokos is 0-1 with a 4.76 ERA in three appearances, two of which have been starts. Krokos allowed just one earned run on two hits over six innings on March 3 at Charlotte in his last start, which did not result in a decision. He suffered the loss at Wake Forest on Feb. 22, allowing three runs in four innings. Manhattan is slated to throw southpaw Matt Jordan (0-2, 10.80 ERA).
Game 4 vs. Pittsburgh – Robert Switka is 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts. He was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week after holding Wake Forest to one hit in five shutout innings on Feb. 24, but the senior righty has allowed eight earned runs in 5.2 innings over his other two starts. Switka is scheduled to pitch against Pitt left-hander Alex Caravella (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
Manhattan is 1-6 so far this season in seven games against teams from Southern Florida. The Jaspers were swept by Florida International Feb. 22-24, and they went 1-3 in four competitive games against No. 23 Florida Gulf Coast last weekend. The Jaspers have struggled at the plate and are hitting .180 as a team. Interestingly, they have seven home runs but just four doubles and no triples. Nick Camastro's .250 batting average is tops on the team among players who have more than seven at bats. Manhattan's pitchers have a combined ERA of 7.89.
Pittsburgh enters this weekend with a 5-4 record, but the Panthers have lost three in-a-row. They swept Wichita State in the opening weekend and won two of three at Wofford on Feb. 23-24. The Panthers, though, lost games to The Citadel, UNC Asheville and VCU in Charleston, S.C. last weekend. Saturday's game against YSU will be Pitt's home opener at Charles L. Cost Field. The Panthers are hitting .304 as a team, and three starters are batting at least .389. Sam Parente leads the team with a .436 average, and Steven Shelinsky Jr. has hit four home runs in just seven games. The Panthers have a staff ERA of 5.10.
The Penguins will play at Coppin State on Tuesday in their final tune-up for Horizon League play. YSU opens its conference schedule next weekend at UIC.