Penguins Drop Regular-Season Finale at Valparaiso, 3-2

Marcus Heath | Photo by Ron Stevens
Marcus Heath | Photo by Ron Stevens

Youngstown State grounded into three double plays, including one with the bases loaded to end the game, in a 3-2 loss at Valparaiso on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

The Penguins finish the regular season 14-41 overall and 8-16 in Horizon League play. They will enter next week's Horizon League Tournament as the fifth seed and will play No. 4 Wright State on Wednesday at 3 p.m. Valparaiso ends the regular season 29-26 overall and 13-11 in conference games, and it will be the third seed in the league tournament.

For the second time in the three-game series, YSU posted five more hits than Valparaiso and lost. In addition to grounding into three double plays, the Penguins stranded 13 runners. They left a runner on in scoring position in seven of the nine innings.

Mike Accardi walked and scored on an error in the first inning to put the Penguins up 1-0, and Chris Manning tied the score with a solo homer in the second.

Neil Schroth led off the top of the fourth with a triple, but a strikeout and a double play kept the Penguins from taking the lead. After YSU left two runners on in the fifth, reliever Josh North retired Kyle Schneider to start the bottom of the inning before the next four batters reached. Billy Cribbs walked, and Andrew Bain's single put runners on the corners with one out. Cribbs then scored when Bryce Hara reached on an error by Jack Graham, and pinch-runner Andy Burns came in on Tanner Vavra's bunt single to put the Crusaders up 3-1. Graham made his first career start at third base.

A double play negated a leadoff single for YSU in the seventh, but the biggest twin killing came in the ninth. Accardi started the inning with a single, and Nick DiNello was hit by a pitch to put the tying run on base. Both runners moved up on Josh White's ground out, and Marcus Heath brought in Accardi with a single to left that made the score 3-2. Heath went to second on a wild pitch, and Phil Lipari was intentionally walked with first base open. Kris Moules, who singled in the eighth inning in his first at bat back from an injury that kept him out since April 2, grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.

Heath was 3-for-5, and eight different Penguins had hits. Vavra was 2-for-4 to lead the Crusaders.

YSU starter Jared Wight allowed one run on four hits in 3.2 innings in a no-decision. Josh North was charged with the loss, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in 0.2 innings. Russ Harless and Pat Shedlock both pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, and Erik Okleson got the final out in the eighth. Valparaiso did not have a hit after Vavra's bunt single that brought in the eventual game-winning run in the fifth.

Valparaiso starter Dalton Lundeen allowed one unearned run on six hits and two walks in five innings to improve to 4-1. Kyle Wormington pitched the final two innings and earned his first save.