Kids Day, Senior Day Highlight Baseball's Final Week

Ryan Smith
Ryan Smith

The Youngstown State baseball team will play at Kent State and host a three-game series against Rider this week to conclude the 2017 season. The Penguins and Golden Flashes will play at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and YSU will host the Broncs at 5 p.m. on Thursday, 11 a.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday. Friday's game will be a special Kids Day Game in conjunction with the Mahoning Valley Scrappers, and more than 4,000 area students are expected to be in attendance. The Penguins will celebrate senior day on Saturday, and both Friday and Saturday's games will be streamed live on the YSUsports YouTube Channel.

Recapping Last Week: Youngstown State lost five games by a total of eight runs last week. The Penguins lost 3-2 in 10 innings at Pittsburgh on Wednesday, 4-3 and 5-3 in a doubleheader against Northern Kentucky on Saturday, and 7-5 and 8-6 at Oakland in another doubleheader on Sunday. YSU needed at least a split at Oakland to stay in contention for a spot in the Horizon League Tournament. The Golden Grizzlies' 7-5 win in game one was deflating as YSU had rallied with four runs in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-3 lead. Oakland was down to its last strike in the bottom of the inning before hitting a walk-off, pinch-hit three-run homer.

Quick Notes:

  • Although Youngstown State has been eliminated from postseason play, it has already won more regular-season games than it did in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016. YSU's nine Horizon League wins are tied for its most since 2009.
  • Youngstown State went 13-12 over a 25-game stretch from March 24 through May 5. Surrounding that stretch, the Penguins were 2-16 to start the season and have lost their last eight contests.
  • YSU has beaten two ranked teams on the road this season – a 12-3 victory at No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26 and an 11-6 win at No. 29 Kent State on April 4. Youngstown State also beat the Golden Flashes when they were 28th in the country last year, and it swept a doubleheader at Missouri as well.
  • Youngstown State has hit 46 home runs in 51 games this season. The Penguins have hit more homers in a season just once in their history – 60 in 2010. YSU had not hit more than 20 dingers in a season since that record-setting campaign in 2010, and it averaged 14.2 homers over the previous six years.
  • Junior first baseman Andrew Kendrick has hit a school-record 15 home runs this season. He ranks 22nd in the country in home runs, and he is 20th nationally with 0.32 home runs per game. Kendrick hit his first homer in a month at Oakland on Sunday.
  • Sophomore outfielder/DH Kyle Benyo has hit eight homers, which is tied for the 14th-most by a Penguin in program history. Erich Diedrich is the only YSU sophomore to hit more than eight home runs – he had nine in 2006. Drew Dosch, Andrew Clough and Jeff Stofko are the only other Penguins sophomores with eight homers. Trey Bridis has seven homers, including three in the last nine games.
  • YSU has been an improved offensive club in 2017. The Penguins are batting 29 points higher collectively than in 2016, and they are averaging more than a run more per game this season. A big boost in the offense has come from home runs as the Penguins have hit an impressive 34 more round-trippers than in 2016. 2017: .255 AVG / 4.9 runs per game / 71 doubles / 46 home runs / .388 SLG / .327 OBP.  2016: .226 AVG / 3.8 runs per game / 64 doubles / 12 home runs / .288 SLG / .320 OBP.
  • Injuries have hurt the Penguins down the stretch, especially in the rotation. Senior Jeremy Quinlan has pitched just seven innings in his last three starts as he has been battling a stress fracture in his foot. He made just five pitches before having to leave against Northern Kentucky on Saturday. Quinlan had pitched complete game victories in two of his previous three starts before being limited over his most recent three starts. Kevin Yarabinec had a 3.38 ERA on March 25 before being affected by an elbow injury that caused him to miss a month.
  • Since moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis on March 19, Joe King has a 2.21 ERA in 40.2 innings. He has three wins and six saves as a reliever. King had pitched 13-2/3 consecutive scoreless innings at one point. King is one of just four players in program history to have at least six saves in a season, and he is tied for ninth in career saves with seven.
  • YSU has had two players be named a national player of the week this season. Andrew Kendrick was recognized nationally by several media outlets after he hit five home runs and posted 11 RBIs during the opening weekend. Lorenzo Arcuri was a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball on March 13 after he hit three home runs at Morehead State.
  • Youngstown State is under the direction of first-year head coach Dan Bertolini. The 31-year-old from the Youngstown area spent the previous eight seasons at Mercyhurst North East. The Saints averaged 29 wins in his tenure and were particularly strong on offense, setting school records for hits, doubles, home runs, runs and RBIs in his final season.

Scouting Kent State: Kent State is 33-14 overall and leads the Mid-American Conference with a 17-4 mark in conference games. The Golden Flashes lead the MAC in ERA and slugging percentage, and they rank second in batting average and total bases. Senior outfielder Luke Burch leads the MAC individually with a .368 average. Ryan Smith will start for Youngstown State against the Golden Flashes.

Scouting Rider: Rider will come to Eastwood Field with a 20-26-1 overall record and a 12-12 mark in MAAC play. The Broncs, like the Penguins, have their conference bye week to end the season. Rider is hitting .256 a team, and its top three hitters are batting between .290 and .296. Nick Margevicius leads the rotation with a 6-3 record an impressive 2.47 ERA. The junior left-hander has 69 strikeouts and just 20 walks in 80 innings.