Senior Jason Shirley started the final home conference series of his career with a walkoff single in the 11th inning, helping Youngstown State beat Oakland 6-5 on Friday at Eastwood Field. The teams played in front of more than 3,600 students from the Youngstown area.
Shirley's single helped the Penguins complete a late-inning rally in which they had to come from behind twice. YSU tied the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth, and it scored two unearned runs in the 10th to tie it again 5-5.
Frank Califano had three singles, and the Penguins finished with 17 hits as a team. Four YSU players finished with two hits.
Kevin Hix doubled to lead off the third and scored two batters later when Califano grounded out, and Youngstown State scored a run on three straight singles in the fifth to go up 2-0 on the Golden Grizzlies. Trey Bridis started offense with a single to left, and Califano followed with one of his three bunt singles. Bridis was picked off second for the second out, but Califano stole second on a pickoff throw to first and scored on Lorenzo Arcuri's single to left.
Oakland scored a pair of unearned runs in the seventh to tie the score. Ian Yetsko drew a leadoff walk, and Tyler Pagano's single put two runners on. YSU catcher Jake Fryman threw wide to third trying get Yetsko out on Brett Impemba's bunt, which allowed Yetsko to come home. The other run came on Trent Drumheller's sacrifice fly.
YSU had the bases loaded with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh and failed to score, and Oakland took the lead in the top of the eighth without a hit in the inning. Mike Brosseau was hit by a pitch to start the inning, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and wild pitch and scored on Robby Enslen's sacrifice fly.
Matt Sullivan started YSU's rally in the bottom of the ninth with a single, and Anthony Rohan came in to pinch run. Califano's bunt single put two runners on, and the bases were loaded with Penguins after Arcuri's sacrifice bunt and Alex Larivee's intentional walk. Rohan scored on Shane Willoughby's bouncer to second, and the game was extended when Oakland reliever Lucas Scocchia snagged Josh Fitch's hard grounder up the middle.
Oakland scored twice in the 10th on an error that occurred on a double steal and an RBI single by Pagano.
YSU tied the score with two unearned runs in the bottom of the 10th, and the game almost ended before Shirley's heroics. Jonny Miller hit a one-out single to center, and an error on a Hix grounder put two runners on. Alex Core singled up the middle to plate Miller, and Hix scored on Califano's ground out. Core was then thrown out at the plate by Pagano on Arcuri's single that would have won the game in the 10th.
Oakland left the bases loaded in the top of the 11th, setting the stage for the walkoff win in the bottom half. Larivee hit a leadoff single to center, stole second and advanced to third on Willoughby's sacrifice bunt. Nate Schweers got Fitch to bounce out back to the mound for the second out, but Shirley came through with an opposite-field single to left on a 3-1 pitch to bring in Larivee with the winning run.
YSU starter Joe King completed six innings and handed the ball to the bullpen after walking Yetsko to start the seventh. Ryan Krokos pitched into the 10th and allowed four runs, three of which were earned, and Anthony Konders got the final four outs in earning his first win.
Oakland starter Jason Hager allowed three runs on 12 hits in eight innings, and he left after allowing two singles to start the bottom of the ninth. Schweers was charged with the loss.
Youngstown State and Oakland will continue the three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m., and the finale will be Sunday at 1.