Early Burst Not Enough as Penguins Lose Tournament Opener 6-3

Josh White | Photo by Ron Stevens
Josh White | Photo by Ron Stevens

The Youngstown State baseball team scored the first three runs, but it was all Wright State from the bottom of the second on as the Raiders rallied to defeat the Penguins 6-3 in the first game of the 2013 Horizon League Baseball Championship on Wednesday afternoon at Eastwood Field.

The fifth-seeded Penguins will now plan an elimination game at 7 p.m. on Thursday against either No. 3 Valparaiso or No. 2 UIC. The fourth-seeded Raiders advance to play top-seeded Milwaukee at 3 p.m. on Thursday.

YSU had four straight base-runners in the top of the first inning, and RBI singles from Josh White and Nick DiNello gave it a 2-0 lead. Neil Schroth walked after being down 1-2 in the count, and Phil Lipari followed with a single to left. White then brought in Schroth with a single to center, and DiNello followed with an opposite-field single to right to bring in Lipari.

Leadoff batter Mike Accardi reached on an infield single with two outs in the second inning, and he stole second to get into scoring position. Schroth then hit a deep fly ball to right that Kieston Greene couldn't make a tough catch on, which allowed Accardi to score and put the Penguins up 3-0.

After YSU starter Patrick O'Brien retired the Raiders in order in the bottom of the first, Greene redeemed himself when he singled in front of a diving Kris Moules to start the second. O'Brien then hit Jeff Limbaugh, and Kody Krizman hit a soft single to left to load the bases with nobody out. Sam Picchiotti got the Raiders on the board with a sacrifice fly to center, and O'Brien induced a big 4-6-3 double play to get out of the inning with the score 3-1.

The Penguins gave the Raiders two extra outs in the third inning with two errors, and Wright State scored two unearned runs to tie the score. Michael Timm reached on an error to start the inning, and he scored when Lipari threw low and wide to first on a two-out ground ball hit by Garrett Gray. Gray promptly stole second and third, and he came in on Greene's RBI single.

Picchiotti reached on an error to start the fourth, and he came in when Justin Kopale followed with a triple to left. O'Brien got Timm to line out to Schroth at second with the infield in for the first out, and Kevin Hix made a nice play behind the bag at third for the second out. John Brodner grounded out to second to end the inning and leave Kopale on third.

After allowing Accardi's infield single with two outs in the second, Wright State starter Joey Hoelzel settled in and did not allow a hit until a two-out single in the fifth. A double play allowed him to overcome a leadoff single in the sixth, and a fly out to Greene followed a hit batsman and a bunt single.

Picchiotti put Wright State up 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth when he singled, went to second on a wild pitch with two outs and scored on Timm's RBI single.

A single by Lipari and a two-out walk by DiNello allowed the Penguins to put two runners on in the seventh, but Greene saved at least one run when he came up with Marcus Heath's hard liner toward the line.

Wright State reliever Trevor Swaney got a double play after YSU got the leadoff runner on in the eighth, and Picchiotti led off the bottom of the eighth with a homer to left off reliever Alex Frey to give Wright State an extra insurance run.

Lipari and White were both 2-for-5 for YSU, which matched Wright State with eight hits. Picchiotti was 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBIs to lead the Raiders.

O'Brien was the hard-luck loser, allowing just two earned runs on seven hits in 6.2 innings. Frey was charged with one run in 0.2 innings, and Jared Wight came in to record the final two outs in the eighth.

Hoelzel allowed two earned runs on eight hits and four walks in seven innings in earning his fifth win. Swaney was awarded his first save.