With final exams in the rear-view mirror, the Youngstown State baseball team begins the final stretch of the regular season this weekend at league-leading Milwaukee. The Penguins and Panthers will start their three-game series at Henry Aaron Field on Friday at 4 p.m. Eastern, and they'll play at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Live stats and live audio will be available throughout the weekend, and video of Friday's game will be broadcast on tape delay on the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.
Youngstown State enters this weekend in a three-way deadlock for third place in the Horizon League standings with UIC and Wright State. Those three teams are all three games behind the league-leading Panthers and two games behind Valparaiso. Valpo plays at UIC this weekend, and Wright State has a non-conference series at Missouri State. YSU is at Valparaiso, and UIC is at Wright State next week in the final week of the regular season.
The Penguins lost two of three games to the Raiders last weekend at Eastwood Field, dropping the first two contests 18-4 and 6-3 before winning 7-4 on Sunday. Wright State scored a total of 20 runs in the first four innings of the first two games of the series. The Raiders led 17-2 after four innings in game one, and they scored the first three runs and the last three runs in game two. The Penguins flipped the script in game three, holding the Raiders scoreless in the first five innings while building a 5-0 lead. YSU scored two runs in the eighth after Wright State had cut the lead to 5-4.
Junior right-hander Patrick O'Brien (3-5, 4.42 ERA) will move up a spot in the rotation to start game one for YSU, flipping spots with game-two starter Blake Aquadro (3-7, 5.31 ERA). Jared Wight (2-1, 5.18 ERA), who made his first Horizon League start last weekend, will remain in the rotation and take the ball on Sunday. Milwaukee will counter with Jake Long (6-3, 1.88 ERA), Cale Tassi (4-5, 4.48 ERA) and Mike Schneider (7-2, 3.13 ERA).
Scouting Milwaukee: Milwaukee was 11-4 in Horizon League play – with the only series loss to Youngstown State – before being swept at Valparaiso last weekend. That significantly tightened up the standings, and UWM holds a one-game lead on Valpo. The Panthers are a perfect 8-0 at home with 15 other games scheduled to be played at Henry Aaron Field being cancelled or moved. Milwaukee leads the Horizon League in batting average and on-base percentage while ranking second in ERA. Michael Porcaro leads the conference with a .358 batting average, and four other Panthers rank in the top 10.
Previously vs. Milwaukee: Youngstown State won two of three games against Milwaukee when the teams played at Eastwood Field May 5-7. The Panthers won game one, which was YSU's home opener, 14-4, but YSU rebounded to win the next two contests 10-1 and 6-2. The Penguins held a 4-1 lead through six innings in the opener before the Panthers scored three runs in the seventh, six in the eighth and four in the ninth. YSU then scored the first eight runs and got a complete game from O'Brien in its Saturday victory, and it scored the final four runs in the finale to win 6-2.