Baseball’s Final Stretch Starts Friday with Kids Day Game

Kevin Yarabinec (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Kevin Yarabinec (Photo by Ron Stevens)

The Youngstown State baseball team will start the final stretch of the regular season with a three-game Horizon League series against UIC. The series starts with a special Kids Day game on Friday at 11 a.m. where more than 3,500 students from local schools and organizations will be in attendance. Saturday’s game will be at 2 p.m., and Sunday’s finale will start at noon.

The Penguins, who did not have any midweek games scheduled this week due to final exams, have nothing but home games remaining in the regular season. YSU, which has played just eight of its first 41 games at the friendly confines of Eastwood Field, has seven home games scheduled in a nine-day span leading up to the Horizon League Tournament. Youngstown State went 4-2 at home in April with a series win over Oakland and quality victories over Pittsburgh and Kent State.

Youngstown State won 5-4 at Kent State last Wednesday for their second triumph over the Golden Flashes in the month. The Penguins beat Kent State twice in the same season for the first time since 1979. YSU then dropped two slugfests and a 7-3 decision at Wright State over the weekend. The Penguins hit four home runs and had its best offensive series in league play against the conference’s top pitching staff. Eight players who started at least two of the three games hit at least .300, and four different players hit home runs.

Freshman outfielder Alex Larivee is batting a team-best .321 with a .394 on-base percentage, and senior second baseman Phil Lipari’s average is up to .270 after hitting .500 last week. Lipari leads the club in runs scored and is tied for the lead with Matt Sullivan in home runs. Sullivan has a team-best 25 RBIs, including 11 in the last six games, and he’s hit .305 since March 26.

Sophomore left-hander Jared Wight is slated to make his first conference start of the season on Friday against the Flames. He’s scheduled to be followed by senior right-handers Nic Manuppelli and Patrick O’Brien.

Scouting UIC: UIC enters this week as winners of eight straight games and records of 22-19 overall and 12-7 in Horizon League play. The Flames are second in the conference standings behind Wright State, which has already clinched the regular-season title. UIC leads the conference in most major offensive categories, including batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs and home runs.  Alex Jurich owns the top individual batting average in the league at .367, and he’s also tops in RBIs and runs scored. Jeff Boehm leads the conference in home runs in slugging percentage. UIC swept the Penguins in Chicago in the first conference series in April.