Sullivan's Slam, Larivee's Sac Fly Lift Penguins to 5-4 Win at Kent State

Matt Sullivan (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Matt Sullivan (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Matt Sullivan hit a grand slam in the sixth inning, and Alex Larivee's sacrifice fly in the ninth lifted the Youngstown State baseball team to a 5-4 victory at Kent State on Wednesday evening.

The Penguins beat the Golden Flashes in their last at bat for the second straight meeting. YSU, which also won against Kent State on April 8, topped the Golden Flashes twice in the same season for the first time since 1979.

Josh North allowed one run in three innings of relief to earn the victory, and Kevin Yarabinec retired the Golden Flashes in order in the ninth to earn his third save of the season. Phil Lipari had a game-high three hits, and five different Penguins scored.

T.J. Sutton and Justin Wagler had two hits apiece for Kent State.

Neither team's starter allowed a run while being held to a pitch count, and the game was scoreless after until Kent State broke the tie with three runs in the fifth. Wagler led off with a single and scored four batters later on a wild pitch. Sawyer Polen scored on an error, and Jon Wilson came in on a passed ball to put Kent State ahead 3-0.

Lipari started the top of the sixth with a double to left center, and Jason Shirley's infield single put two runners on. After Larivee's sacrifice bunt, Brent Gillespie walked to load the bases. Sullivan then hit the first pitch of his at bat off Eli Martin for a grand slam that gave the Penguins a 4-3 lead. It was YSU's first grand slam of the season.

Both bullpens came up with big moments the next two half innings. North got a big inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the sixth, and Tim Faix got a ground out and back-to-back strikeouts in the seventh after YSU loaded the bases with nobody out. Cody Koch kept the momentum in Kent State's dugout with his solo homer that tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh.

North struck out Koch to end a bases-loaded threat in the eighth, and the Penguins rewarded the reliever with a run in the ninth. Shane Willoughby drew a nine pitch walk to start the inning, and Lipari was hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Both of them advanced on a passed ball, and Willoughby scored the game-winner on Larivee's sacrifice fly off closer Eric Dorsch.

YSU starter Jared Wight allowed two hits and a walk in 2.2 innings, and Alex Frey did not allow a run in 0.2 innings. Kent State reliever Josh Pierce was charged with the loss as the pitcher who started the top of the ninth.

Youngstown State will have just one more non-conference game the rest of the season. The Penguins start a three-game series at Wright State on Friday at 6:30 p.m.