Strong Pitching, Sullivan’s Homer Sends Penguins to 2-1 Win Over UIC

Ryan Krokos
Ryan Krokos

Niles, Ohio -- Matt Sullivan hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning, and the Youngstown State baseball team got strong pitching throughout in a 2-1 victory over UIC on Saturday afternoon at Eastwood Field.

The Penguins have now won six of their last eight home games and won its second straight conference series at Eastwood Field.

Ryan Krokos held the Flames to six hits and a walk in five shutout innings before handing the ball off to the bullpen. After UIC scored off Robert Switka in the sixth, Alex Frey pitched two scoreless innings, and Kevin Yarabinec earned the save a scoreless ninth.

Sullivan and Josh White both had two hits for the Penguins, who won a one-run game against the Flames for the second straight day. Three different UIC players had two hits, and the Flames held a 9-8 edge in the hits column.

Krokos and UIC starter Ian Lewandowski went toe-to-toe as neither team scored for the first five innings. The Penguins left the bases loaded in the second and stranded two more batters in the third, and the Flames stranded runners in scoring position in the first and third innings and left the bases loaded in the fifth.

With Krokos on a pitch count, Switka relieved him in the sixth and gave up a leadoff single to Alex Jurich. Tyler Detmer then hit a liner off Switka's leg that ended up rolling into right field to put runners on the corners with nobody out. Switka limited the damage by allowing just Jurich to score on a sacrifice fly by Zenon Kolakowski.

With the Penguins down 1-0, White kickstarted the offense with a single to center with one out in the sixth. Pinch-runner Jake Ross came in and stole second, and a walk by David Saluga and a bunt single by Kevin Hix loaded the bases. Jason Shirley lined out to short for the second out, but Lewandowski walked Shane Willoughby to force in Ross.

Frey retired the Flames in order in the seventh, and Sullivan's solo blast to left came with one out in the bottom of the inning. Frey got three flyouts in the eighth to preserve the lead, and Yarabinec retired the 10th straight Flame when he got Philbin to fly out to start the ninth. Kolakowski singled to right to put the tying run on, but that was the only base-runner Yarabinec allowed. The freshman reliever struck out Jon Ryan and John Coen, the latter with pinch-runner Jake Nath in scoring position after a stolen base, to earn his fourth save.

Frey improved to 3-1 with the relief victory, while Lewandowski dropped to 4-5.

Sullivan's homer was his fourth in the last 10 games, and the junior third baseman has registered an RBI in eight of those 10 contests.

The Penguins will try to go for the series sweep on Sunday at noon.