Baseball Begins 10-Day Trip at EKU on Friday

Nico Padovan
Nico Padovan

Fresh off one of its most significant regular-season victories in program history, the Youngstown State baseball team will embark on a Major League style 10-day road trip in three cities. The Penguins will begin a three-game series at Eastern Kentucky on Friday, and they will also play two games at Morehead State and three at Richmond on the trip over YSU's Spring Break.

The Penguins and Colonels will play at 2 p.m. on Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday, and live stats will be available for all three games through links on YSU and Morehead State will play at 3 p.m. on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and live stats and live audio will be available. The series at Richmond will begin Friday at 3 p.m.

Youngstown State heads to EKU with a 1-5 overall record and carrying some momentum after beating No. 17 Georgia Tech 12-3 this past Sunday. The Penguins hit three home runs in the victory over the Yellow Jackets, who were 6-0 at the time and scored 31 runs in the first two games of the series. Anthony Rohan and Andrew Kendrick both homered as part of an eight-run second inning for the Penguins, and Trey Bridis also hit a home run in the fifth inning. Rohan's home run was the first of his career, and it came with the bases loaded. Kendrick's, on the other hand, was his sixth of the season, which puts him in a three-way tie for the most in the country. YSU has 10 home runs as a team through six games after having 12 total in 52 games in 2016.

Eastern Kentucky is 3-6 this season, and all three of its wins came against Horizon League opponent Oakland over the weekend. Those three games against the Golden Grizzlies were originally scheduled to be played at EKU, but the series was moved to Whitaker Bank Ballpark in Lexington, Ky., due to construction at the new Earle Combs Stadium. The Penguins will also play at Whitaker Bank Ballpark on Friday, and YSU will help open Earle Combs Stadium on Saturday and Sunday.

Morehead State is 5-3 so far this season and has four games on its schedule before the Penguins arrive on Tuesday. The Eagles play at No. 6 Louisville on Wednesday, and they will host Bowling Green in a three-game series over the weekend.

Joe King will pitch the series opener for Youngstown State, and Collin Floyd will take the ball on Saturday after pitching on Sunday the first two weekends of the season. Sunday's starting pitcher against the Colonels and the rotation for the two games at Morehead State have not been announced.

Scouting Eastern Kentucky: EKU is 3-6 this season with all three of its wins coming against Oakland. The Colonels held the Golden Grizzlies to four runs or fewer in each game, but EKU has given up at least nine runs in five of its losses. In addition to Oakland, EKU has played four games at No. 7 Arizona, on at No. 6 Louisville and one at Kentucky. EKU was picked to finish eighth in the OVC preseason poll, and it returns 18 letterwinners and six positional starters from last year's squad that went 24-31.

Scouting Morehead State: Morehead State is 5-3 so far this season and has won four of its last five games. One of those victories was at No. 27 Mississippi State on Feb. 21. The Eagles will play four more games before the Penguins come to town on March 7. Morehead State was picked to finish fifth in the OVC, and shortstop Reid Leonard and outfielder Will Schneider were selected Preseason All-OVC.

Significant Win at Georgia Tech: Youngstown State's win at No. 17 Georgia Tech on Sunday was a significant one for the program. YSU earned a win over a ranked opponent for the second straight season, following up a win over No. 28 Kent State last year. Before the win over the Golden Flashes, YSU had gone 17 years without a win over a ranked opponent. The Penguins beat a team from the ACC for the second time in the last four years, following up a victory over Pittsburgh in 2014. The Penguins had a notable doubleheader sweep at unranked Missouri last year as well.

Floyd Earns Another Win Against Major Opponent: Sophomore left-hander Collin Floyd was the winning pitcher for the Penguins on Sunday against No. 17 Georgia Tech. Floyd pitched the first five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out five batters. He also won at Missouri last year, giving him wins over power conferences in back-to-back seasons. It was a nice bounce-back start for the southpaw as well. Floyd allowed six runs in 1.2 innings in his first start of the season against Illinois State on Feb. 19.

Slinger, Minney Settling Into Bullpen Roles: Sophomores Jesse Slinger and Zack Minney have both been solid right-handed options out of the bullpen during the first two weeks of the season. Slinger has pitched in five of YSU's six games and has yielded one run in seven innings of work. He has a 1.29 ERA and four strikeouts. Minney has pitched 3.1 innings over four appearances and has allowed one run.

Kendrick Ranking Among Nation's Leaders: After a monster first two weeks of the season, junior first baseman Andrew Kendrick leads the country in home runs (6), home runs per game (1.0), RBIs per game (2.5) and slugging percentage (1.318). He is batting .455 this season, and seven of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases. Kendrick already has two more home runs than he hit all of last season, and he is just five RBIs shy of his 2016 total. He has been named the Horizon League Batter of the Week in each of the first two weeks of the season, and he was named a National Player of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and Collegiate Baseball after the opening weekend.

Offensive Numbers Way Up: While the sample size is very small, Youngstown State's offensive output over the first two weeks has been very encouraging. The Penguins are averaging 6.2 runs per game so far this season, which is a big jump from 3.8 last season. YSU has already hit 10 home runs in six games after having just 12 in 52 games in 2016. The team batting average has jumped 29 points, and the slugging percentage is 140 points better. Impressively, more than 91 percent of the at bats have come from players who were on the roster last season.

  • 2016: 3.8 runs per game, 12 HR, .226 AVG, .288 SLG%, .320 OB% in 52 games
  • 2017: 6.2 runs per game, 10 HR, .255 AVG, .428 SLG%, .333 OB% in 6 games