The Youngstown State baseball team will play games against two BCS conference teams this week, hosting Pittsburgh on Tuesday and traveling to West Virginia on Wednesday. First pitch against the Panthers at Eastwood Field on Tuesday is set for 3 p.m., and the Penguins and Mountaineers will get underway at 6 p.m.
Tuesday's game completes a four-game home stand for the Penguins. YSU won two of three games against the Milwaukee Panthers over the weekend, losing Friday and winning Saturday and Sunday. The Penguins have already matched their regular-season win total from last year, and they are 5-4 over their last nine games. YSU is 9-21 overall and 5-4 in Horizon League play, good for tied-for-second in the standings. While there are six weeks still remaining, the Penguins have already shown signs of taking big steps forward under first-year head coach Steve Gillispie.
YSU got production throughout its roster over the weekend and matched or out-played the league-leading Panthers except for three innings in Friday's opener. The Penguins scored four runs on Milwaukee game-one starter Jake Long, who hadn't been scored upon in 26 innings entering the contest. They held a 4-1 lead after six innings before several miscues started a snowball effect that led to 13 Panther runs in the final three innings and a 14-4 loss. The Penguins rebounded behind a stalwart effort from junior right-hander Patrick O'Brien on Saturday to win 10-1, and they took the series with a 6-2 victory on Sunday. YSU hit .344 collectively, and five of the six players who started all three games hit at least .364.
O'Brien was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week for his efforts, holding the Panthers to one run on five hits while striking out seven in the complete-game victory. Junior shortstop Phil Lipari led the offensive attack, going 8-for-10 with seven RBIs, four runs scored and four stolen bases in the series.
The Penguins have already played both Pittsburgh and West Virginia twice this season. YSU lost games at Pitt on March 9 and 10 and beat the Mountaineers once in two contests at Wake Forest on Feb. 22 and 23. YSU will be looking to stop a 10-game losing skid against Pitt.
YSU will host Valparaiso in a three-game series at Eastwood Field this weekend. The Penguins and Crusaders will play at 3 p.m. on Friday and at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Pittsburgh is 20-9 despite losing three one-run games at USF over the weekend. The Panthers were ranked No. 26 in the country last week before dropping those three contests to the Bulls. Pitt is batting .296 as a team with Casey Roche leading the club with a .360 batting average, 30 runs scored and 33 RBIs. Steen Shelinsky Jr. has a team-best eight homers. The Panthers have a team ERA of 3.56. Pitt has not announced its starter for Tuesday's game. Former Penguins great Jacke Healey is an assistant coach with the Panthers. Healey batted .356 and set school records with 12 home runs, 63 runs scored and 59 RBIs as a senior in 2010.
Scouting West Virginia
West Virginia is 17-15 entering the week after going 1-2 at Baylor over the weekend. The Mountaineers will play at Ohio State on Tuesday before hosting the Penguins on Wednesday. The Mountaineers are batting .299 as a team and have 73 stolen base attempts, 46 of which have been successful. Ryan McBroom has team highs of seven home runs and 27 RBIs, and Ryan Tuntland is hitting a team-best .368. Brady Wilson and Bobby Boyd have combined for 26 steals. Brock Dykxhoorn will make his second career start on Wednesday against YSU. He is 1-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 8.2 innings.