Baseball Welcomes Ohio, Kent State to Eastwood Field This Week

Austin Lujano (Photo by Kevin Finnigan)
Austin Lujano (Photo by Kevin Finnigan)

The Youngstown State baseball team will play a pair of midweek games against teams from the Mid-American Conference this week at Eastwood Field.

The Penguins will host Ohio on Tuesday and Kent State on Wednesday, and first pitch in both games is set for 5:30 p.m. It will be the first time this season that Youngstown State will have two midweek games at Eastwood Field.

Youngstown State picked up a pair of victories last week and will head into Tuesday's game against the Bobcats with three straight wins at home. YSU beat Canisius 4-1 last Tuesday at Eastwood Field, and it took the opener in a three-game series at Wright State on Friday, 6-5. The Penguins are 4-4 in the first eight games in April.

Junior outfielder Frank Califano batted .389 with four runs scored in YSU's five games last week, and he has hit safely in 23 of YSU's last 25 games dating back to March 9. Califano, a native of Apline Calif., who is in his first season with the program, leads the Penguins with a .339 average, which ranks seventh in the Horizon League. Fellow outfielder Alex Larivee has three homers and a team-best .483 slugging percentage, and Shane Willoughby has 14 RBIs, three more than he posted last year as a freshman.

Senior right-hander Josh North will make his seventh start of the season on Tuesday against the Bobcats, and Wednesday's starter will be announced later. North pitched out of the bullpen twice last week after starting in six of his first seven appearances.

Ohio will come to Eastwood Field with a 19-14 record and winners of five of its last seven games. The Bobcats had won four straight contests before losing two of three at home to Bowling Green over the weekend. Sophomore outfielder Mitch Longo leads the team in batting average (.376), runs (34), home runs (4) and RBIs (32).

Kent State enters this week with a 19-12 mark, and the Golden Flashes will play Pittsburgh on Tuesday before coming to Eastwood Field. Kent State has won nine of its last 10 contests, including a 12-6 victory over Youngstown State on March 31 in Kent. YSU led that contest 6-2 before Kent State rallied with five runs in the fifth and five more in the eighth. Kent State is batting .294 as a team, and junior first baseman Zarley Zalewski leads the club with a .362 mark.

Youngstown State's challenging schedule resumes this weekend when it plays a three-game series at Milwaukee. The Penguins and Panthers will play at 4 p.m. Eastern on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Milwaukee swept current 14th-ranked Missouri earlier this season and beat No. 20 Iowa last week.