Baseball Travels South for Four Games Versus Wake Forest, West Virginia

Marcus Heath | Photo by David Schofield
Marcus Heath | Photo by David Schofield

The Youngstown State baseball team will continue its 2013 season with four more games down south this weekend. The Penguins will play two games each against West Virginia and Wake Forest on Wake Forest's campus. YSU will and the Mountaineers will play at noon on both Friday and Saturday, and the Penguins and Demon Deacons will play Friday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at noon.

The Penguins earned their first win of the campaign in the series finale at Samford last Sunday, beating the Bulldogs 6-4. Starter Patrick O'Brien allowed one run on two hits in six innings, and YSU built a 6-1 lead before having to hold on for the win. Samford won game one of the series 5-3 in seven innings, then proceeded to take the next two 17-3 and 13-0. Third baseman Drew Dosch was 7-for-14 with a home run and two doubles last week, and shortstop Phil Lipari, outfielder Kris Moules and first baseman Marcus Heath all batted better than .300.

Dosch was named the preseason Horizon League Player of the Year by multiple outlets, and Baseball America ranked him as the top professional prospect in the conference. Dosch was also an all-star in the Cape Cod League this past summer. He is one of six returners in the starting line-up from last year's team that finished 11-44 but was a win away from competing in the championship round of the Horizon League Tournament. YSU also returns 85 percent of its innings pitched from a year ago.

Youngstown State will return to North Carolina next weekend for four games at Charlotte.

YSU's Probable Rotation

Game 1 vs. West Virginia – Blake Aquadro: Aquadro started the season opener against Samford, and he'll throw game one again in week two. The senior left-hander retired the first seven batters he faced, but he gave up a three-run home run with two outs in the third inning that accounted for all three runs against him. He exited with two runners on and nobody out in the fourth. Last year he started 15 games and had a 3-9 record. Among those victories were a nine-inning shutout of UIC and a come-from-behind victory over Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament.

Game 2 vs. Wake Forest – Ryan Krokos: Krokos is slated to make his first start of the season against the Demon Deacons. He relieved Aquadro in game one of the Samford series last weekend and was charged with two runs in 1.1 innings. He handed the ball off with runners at the corners and one out in the fifth, and both runs came in to score. Krokos made four starts and 21 relief appearances last year and finished the season with a 2-4 record and a 7.74 ERA.

Game 3 vs. West Virginia- Patrick O'Brien: O'Brien is a junior right-hander who held Samford to one run on two hits and no walks last Sunday in a winning effort. O'Brien allowed back-to-back doubles in the first inning, but no Samford runner reached base over the next five innings. He handed the ball off to the bullpen after six innings as he continues to increase his pitch count. O'Brien made 10 starts last year, finishing with a 1-6 record and a 5.59 ERA. He closed the campaign strong with a 3.08 ERA over his final six outings.

Game 4 vs. Wake Forest – Robert Switka: Switka made his first start since May 2011 in game three of the series at Samford last week. He allowed three earned runs on six hits in 3.1 innings. The senior right-hander made 15 starts in 2011, posting a 2-8 record and a 6.13 ERA. He made five relief appearances in the first 10 games last season before missing the rest of the campaign with an injury.

Scouting Wake Forest

Wake Forest enters this weekend with a 3-2 record. The Demon Deacons won three of their four games last weekend at Louisiana-Monore, and they lost 7-2 at Western Carolina on Wednesday. Their game on Friday against Youngstown State is their 2013 home opener. Wake Forest was picked to finish fourth in the ACC's Atlantic Division in the coaches preseason poll. The Demon Deacons finished 33-24 overall and 13-17 in the ACC last season. Seven starting position players and two starting pitchers return from that team. Wake Forest will pitch two left-handers against YSU in Austin Stadler (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Mark McCoy (0-0, 2.25 ERA).

Scouting West Virginia

West Virginia lost two of three games at North Florida last week in its season-opening series. The Mountaineers lost 4-0 and 7-6 in the first two contests before winning the finale 4-3. WVU was solid at the plate with a .302 batting average, and the pitching staff posted a 3.51 ERA. The Mountaineers were picked to finish ninth in the Big 12 preseason poll. Randy Mazey is in his first season as the head coach. WVU returns four starting pitchers and seven members of the starting line-up from last year's team that was 23-32. Right-hander Corey Walter (0-1, 1.93 ERA) and left-hander John Means will start the two games for WVU against Youngstown State. Means will be making his first career start.

Gillispie is First-Year Head Coach

  • Youngstown State is under the direction of first-year head coach Steve Gillispie. Gillispie spent the previous 11 seasons as the top assistant coach at Jacksonville State. This is his first stint as a head coach at the Division I level.
  • Gillispie is the eighth head coach in school history, and he takes over after Rich Pasquale coached YSU for the last five years.
  • Gillispie's coaching staff has an impressive list of accomplishments and more than 70 years of combined experience in many capacities.

Dosch Off to Hot Start

  • Junior third baseman Drew Dosch got off to a strong start this season by going 7-for-14 with two doubles in a home run last weekend at Samford.
  • In addition to his .500 batting average, Dosch posted a .563 on-base percentage and slugged .857. He led YSU with three runs scored.
  • Dosch was a First-Team All-Horizon League selection last year at third base when he hit .353 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs. He was also a Second-Team Academic All-American in 2012.
  • This year, he was named the Preseason Horizon League Player of the Year by the conference's coaches and Baseball America.Multiple scouts and cross-checkers have evaluated Dosch as a second or third-rounder in the upcoming Major League Baseball Draft. Dosch was named the Horizon League's Top Professional Prospect by Baseball America.

O'Brien Earns First Win in 2013

  • Junior right-handed pitcher Patrick O'Brien picked up YSU's first victory of the season last weekend with his gen against Samford.
  • O'Brien held the Bulldogs to one run on two hits in six innings in the winning effort. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.
  • He allowed back-to-back doubles in the first, but he did not allow a baserunner over the final five innings. Samford had scored 30 runs in the two games leading into O'Brien's start.
  • O'Brien was 1-6 with a 5.59 ERA in 11 appearances last season.

Plenty of Pitchers Get Work

  • As YSU's starting pitchers steadily increase their pitch counts, the Penguins used plenty of relief arms last week in the four-game series at Samford.
  • Of the 16 pitchers listed on the roster, 15 of them made appearances last week.
  • Blake Aquadro, Pat Shedlock, Robert Switka and Patrick O'Brien all made starts, and the other 11 came out of the bullpen. Closer Nic Manuppelli was the only pitcher to appear in more than one game.
  • Manuppelli, Jared Wight, Erik Okleson and Alex Frey all had scoreless outings.