Mequon, Wis. -- Youngstown State freshman right-hander Jeremy Quinlan held Horizon League regular-season champion Wright State to five hits in a complete-game and lifted the Penguins to a 7-1 tournament victory on Thursday evening at Kapco Park.
Youngstown State will advance to play Milwaukee in the winners bracket final on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern while Wright State will play an elimination game at 4 p.m. against UIC or Valparaiso. YSU will be making its first winners bracket final appearance since 2005.
Quinlan, a native of Brookfield, Ohio, set new career highs for innings and strikeouts in making his first postseason appearance. He finished the game with six strikeouts after having 11 for the year and a career-long outing of four innings. The right-hander needed just 105 pitches for his gem.
"He commanded his fastball very well," YSU head coach Steve Gillispie said of Quinlan. "He threw inside and outside, and he was able to throw his changeup down. He consistently kept everything out of the middle of the plate and was able to keep them from getting good swings on him."
"He's done that before for us in several shorter opportunities," Gillispie added. "When we felt we probably wouldn't get one of the top two seeds, we wanted to limit his pitches and make sure he stayed fresh because he has good enough stuff that he can compete with a good-hitting and aggressive team."
The Penguins jumped on Wright State starter Joey Hoelzel for five runs and ended the Horizon League Co-Pitcher of the Year's day after three innings. The Raiders bullpen limited YSU to two runs over the final six innings, but Quinlan had all the help he needed.
"I was able to locate everything tonight," Quinlan said. "I just tried to get it over the plate. If they hit it, I have my fielders to back me up. Against the No. 1 seed, you just have to throw strikes."
Phil Lipari led off the game with an infield single, and Alex Larivee followed with a walk. Brent Gillespie doubled in Lipari, and Matt Sullivan followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Larivee. Three batters later, Kevin Hix brought in Gillespie with a two-out single up the middle.
The Penguins added a run in the second when Gillespie was hit by a pitch and scored on a wild pitch. That came after Hoelzel retired the first two batters of the inning. Shane Willoughby doubled and scored on an error in the third to put the Penguins up 5-0.
"We've talked all year about being ready to win the game in the first inning," Gillispie said. "Sometimes you can get to a guy if he's not sharp early."
"I just think we're confident right now. Our coaches have done a good job preparing our guys for the tournament. We're getting good swings on pitches with runners in scoring position."
Quinlan allowed just one hit through the first three innings, and he shook off being hit on the leg with a hard line drive on the final out of the third inning.
"He's a tough kid," Gillispie said. "That's one of the things I love about him. He's not scared of anything, and he's very focused and disciplined. He didn't want to come out."
After allowing a one-out double in the first, Quinlan surrendered just one walk and one single through seven innings. Jack Murphy's bunt single with one out in the eighth ended a string of 10 straight retired hitters, and Murphy scored two batters later on Michael Timm's RBI double. Brad Macciocchi doubled with two outs in the ninth for Wright State's final hit.
Youngstown State went ahead 6-0 when David Saluga was hit by a pitch and scored on Lorenzo Arcuri's sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, and Arcuri singled in Willoughby in the ninth for the final tally.
Wright State went 25-4 against conference teams during the regular season and posted the most conference wins in the Horizon League since 1990. The Raiders went 5-0 against the Penguins during the regular season and won the regular-season crown by 8.5 games.
"I think we're a much better team than our record shows, and tonight we believed that," Gillispie said. "We just played the game. Wright State's obviously a very talented team, but we believed we could match them. When you get pitching like what Jeremy gave us, it's a lot easier to swing the bat."
Willoughby finished 3-for-4 with a single, double and a triple, and Lipari and Josh White had two hits apiece.