YSU Advances to Championship Game with 11-5 Victory Over Milwaukee

Josh White (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Josh White (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Mequon, Wis. -- The Youngstown State baseball team pounded out 15 hits and capitalized on several Milwaukee miscues in a seven-run second inning in an 11-5 victory on Friday evening in the Horizon League Tournament at Kapco Park.

No. 6 Youngstown State will advance to the championship game at 4 p.m. Eastern on Saturday while No. 4 Milwaukee will play an elimination game against No. 1 Wright State at noon. The winner of that contest will have to beat the Penguins twice to claim the tournament crown.

The Penguins, just as they did against Wright State on Thursday night, jumped on the opposing starting pitcher early and maintained a sizeable lead.

Starting pitcher Patrick O'Brien, a native of Boardman, Ohio, allowed 10 hits, but he held the Panthers to just the one run over seven innings of work. He walked one batter and struck out five while throwing 94 pitches, 69 of which were strikes. O'Brien picked up his second win of the campaign with his impressive performance.

"Patrick's been good for this program for several years, and it was nice to have a fifth-year senior on the mound in a game like this," Head Coach Steve Gillispie said. "He's tenacious on the mound. When he got that lead, he was determined not to give them a chance to breathe."

"Patrick really settled down and did what he needed to do by throwing strikes and being a bulldog out there," said catcher Josh White. "He had a little giddy-up on his fastball, and his changeup is always a good pitch. He got better with his slider as the game went on."

White went 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs, and Phil Lipari and Matt Sullivan both had three hits for the Penguins, who have now won three straight contests while posting double digits in hits in all three.

"Confidence can be a scary thing," Gillispie said. "These guys have as much energy and are as confident as they've been at any point the year. Even with how our regular season went, we still had every one of our goals sitting in front of us coming into this week. They just bought in and aren't letting anyone take the opportunity away from them."

Lipari started the game with a single and scored two batters later on Sullivan's single in the top of the first.

The Penguins then sent 12 batters to the plate in a seven-run second inning that featured five hits, three errors, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. Kevin Hix led off with a single, and the Penguins had good fortune when Eric Solberg had an error on a potential double play ball. Lorenzo Arcuri followed with a bunt single to load the bases, and the stage for the big inning was set. YSU had RBIs in five consecutive at bats, and the Guins added two more runs when Brent Gillespie scored on a wild pitch and White scored on Shane Willoughby's single.

O'Brien worked around a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the inning to keep Milwaukee from taking a chunk out of the lead, and he also stranded a pair of runners in the fourth and sixth innings.

The Penguins went ahead 9-0 in the fourth inning when Hix plated David Saluga on a ground out. Milwaukee's first run came in the bottom of the fourth when Nick Unes singled and scored on Dan Barwick's ground out.

In the contest, eight YSU batters had an RBI, nine scored at least one run and seven had hits.

Milwaukee's Cody Peterson had a rough start, allowing six runs on five hits and two walks while pitching into the second inning. Justin Jaquish pitched 7.1 effective innings and gave the Panthers a chance to rally, but O'Brien didn't allow it.

The Penguins added two more runs on back-to-back bases-loaded walks in the ninth to go up 11-1, and the Panthers scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth for the final tally. Senior Alex Frey pitched the final two frames for the Guins.