The Youngstown State baseball team will play the bulk of its home schedule over the next two weeks, and its busy stretch at Eastwood Field begins at 5 p.m. on Tuesday against Kent State. The Penguins are also scheduled to play Bowling Green at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, and they'll host Horizon League doubleheaders against UIC and Milwaukee at noon on Friday and Saturday.
Recapping Last Week: Youngstown State went 1-3 in four games last week and concluded it with a 6-5 win in 10 innings at Milwaukee. The Penguins trailed 5-4 after eight innings but got a game-tying single from Nico Padovan in the ninth and scored on an error in the 10th to escape with a win over the Panthers on Saturday. YSU lost 6-5 to Ohio at Eastwood Field last Tuesday, and it dropped the first two games of the series at Milwaukee 14-5 and 3-0.
Comfort of Eastwood Field: YSU has six home games in a five-day stretch this week, and the Penguins will see plenty of its home clubhouse in the next two weeks. Youngstown State will play nine times at Eastwood Field over a 13-day stretch from April 18-30. Seven of those contests will be against Horizon League opponents as YSU tries to separate from a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference standings. Youngstown State will play nine of its 21 scheduled home games, or almost 43 percent, in that 13-day span. YSU will play just five home games in May – a doubleheader against Northern Kentucky on May 13 and a three-game, non-conference series against Rider to end the season May 18-20.
King Excelling in Late Innings: Since becoming a full-time reliever in the past month, senior left-hander Joe King has excelled for the Penguins. He moved to the bullpen when Jeremy Quinlan made his season debut in the rotation on March 19, and King has pitched nine times in relief since. In those nine appearances, has a 2.49 ERA with six earned runs in 21-2/3 innings. He has not been scored upon in six of the appearances, and he's pitched at least two innings five times. King earned his first win of the season on Saturday by pitching four shutout innings at Milwaukee, and he has earned three saves.
Floyd's Solid Week: Sophomore left-hander Collin Floyd had his best statistical week of the season last week by allowing three earned runs over nine innings. He pitched a scoreless inning of relief versus Ohio on Tuesday, and he surrendered three runs in eight innings at Milwaukee on Friday. It was the longest outing of his career, and he set a new season high with eight strikeouts against the Panthers.
Kendrick Maintains National Lead: Junior first baseman hit a solo home run on Thursday at Milwaukee to up his school record total to 14 this season. Kendrick ranks tied-for-fourth in the country in total home runs, and he continues to lead the country in homers per game with 0.50. He also ranks 11th nationally in slugging percentage (0.758), and he is 27th in RBIs per game (1.18).
Quick Notes Around the Diamond
- After starting the season with a 2-16 record, Youngstown State is 7-7 over its last 14 games.
- YSU has beaten two ranked teams on the road this season – No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26 and No. 29 Kent State on April 4. The Penguins also beat the Golden Flashes when they were ranked 28th last season. Before that win, YSU had not topped a ranked team in 17 years.
- Youngstown State has hit 37 home runs in 32 games, which puts it on pace for 64 over a 56-game season. The school record is 60, which was set in 2010. This is just the fifth time in program history that the Penguins have hit at least 35 home runs in a season.
- Andrew Kendrick set YSU's record for home runs in a season against Wright State on April 9 by hitting his 12th and 13th of the season. He passed Jacke Healey's record of 12, which was set in 2010. His total of 14 ranks tied for fourth in the country.
- Kendrick is one of three Penguins to hit at least five home runs this season, joining Lorenzo Arcuri and Kyle Benyo. Before this season, only one Penguin had hit five home runs in any of the last four seasons.
- Youngstown State has already matched its Horizon League win total from 2016 with five.
- YSU's offensive numbers are remarkably improved from 2016. The Penguins are averaging 5.2 runs, batting .252 and slugging .401 in 2017. Last season, YSU averaged 3.8 runs, batted .226 and slugged .288. Youngstown State has already more-than-tripled its 12 home runs from 2016.
- Due to injuries and looking for a top group to emerge, 10 different Penguins have started on the mound this season.
- Since moving from the rotation to the bullpen, Joel Hake has a 1.72 ERA over 15-2/3 innings. He pitched 4-1/3 shutout innings to earn the save at Kent State on April 4.
Scouting Kent State: Kent State will come to Eastwood Field with a 19-12 overall record and a mark of 7-2 in the MAC, which leads the East Division. The Golden Flashes won two of three games at Northern Illinois over the weekend, winning 7-4 and 4-1 to start the weekend and falling 8-7 on Sunday. Kent State leads the MAC with a .311 batting average and 28 home runs, and Luke Burch's .403 average is tops among all conference players with at least 35 at bats. Youngstown State defeated Kent State 11-6 in Kent on April 4, and the Penguins won 11-10 in 11 innings when the teams last played at Eastwood Field on May 17, 2016.
Scouting Bowling Green: Bowling Green is 9-22 overall and 4-8 in MAC play coming into this week. The Falcons have lost five of their last six contests and were swept in a three-game series at Ball State over the weekend, 7-4, 23-5 and 13-6. BGSU has struggled offensively, ranking last in the MAC in batting average, slugging percentage and runs per game. Youngstown State beat the Falcons 3-1 on March 28 in Bowling Green, and the Penguins have a seven game winning streak in the series dating back to 2007.
Scouting UIC: UIC is second in the Horizon League standings with a 13-2 conference mark, and the Flames are 24-8 overall. UIC has won 20 of its last 22 games overall and has a game against NAIA opponent Viterbo on Tuesday before coming to Eastwood Field on Friday. The Flames lead the conference in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage while also pacing the league in team ERA and opposing batting average. Three different Flames have been named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week, and Reid Birlingmair has claimed the honor two of the past three weeks. Offensively, David Cronin is one of four Flames hitting at least .330. UIC swept Youngstown State 10-2, 3-0 and 1-0, on March 18-19.
Scouting Milwaukee: Youngstown State and Milwaukee will be playing for the fourth and fifth times in a 10-day stretch on Saturday. The Penguins took one of three games against the Panthers in Milwaukee over the weekend, winning 6-5 while losing 14-5 and 3-0. UWM is 12-20 overall but 2-10 in Horizon League play, which puts it seventh in the conference standings. Preseason conference player of the year Daulton Varsho leads the league in batting average (.375) and on-base percentage (.483) while ranking third in slugging percentage. The Panthers are fifth in the league in team batting average, and they rank third in team ERA. Milwaukee will play a doubleheader at Oakland on Friday before coming to Eastwood Field.