Baseball Plays at Kent State, Begins Delayed Series vs. Wright State on Saturday

Head Coach Dan Bertolini (Photo by John Schiraldi)
Head Coach Dan Bertolini (Photo by John Schiraldi)

The Youngstown State baseball team will play four games against Ohio teams this week, starting with a game Tuesday at Kent State. The Penguins will play the Golden Flashes at 4 p.m., and they will begin a three-game Horizon League series with Wright State at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Live stats will be available for all four games, and Kent State will provide live audio on Tuesday.

Schedule note: YSU's series against Wright State was originally scheduled to begin Friday at 3 p.m., but an unfavorable forecast has pushed the opener back a day. The Penguins and Raiders will play one game on Saturday at 3 p.m. and a doubleheader on Sunday at noon.

The Penguins went 2-2 in four games last week and have won four of their last six contests overall. Youngstown State won 3-1 at Bowling Green last Tuesday in their first of seven games against teams from the Mid-American Conference this season, and it had one victory in a three-game series at Northern Kentucky. Junior first baseman Andrew Kendrick hit three more home runs to bring his season total to 11, and he was named the Horizon League Batter of the Week for the third time this season. Javier Alvarez was the pitcher of record in both victories.

YSU's win at NKU gave the Norse their first Horizon League loss, and it allowed the Penguins to take at least one game in back-to-back conference series. YSU sits fourth in the league standings with a 3-6 mark, which puts them between NKU (5-1) and Valparaiso (1-5) and Oakland (1-5). Wright State is atop the league standings with a 9-0 record.

Nico Padovan owns the top batting average on the team at .317, and he is one of six Penguins hitting .250 or higher. In addition to hitting .310, Kendrick leads the country in home runs per game with 0.55, and he ranks fifth in total home runs with 11. YSU has a league-leading 31 home runs, and the Penguins are an efficient 22-of-24 on stolen base attempts.

Right-hander Jesse Slinger will make his first start of the season against Kent State on Tuesday, and the Penguins have not announced their weekend rotation. Slinger has pitched in 13 games out of the bullpen and will head into the contest against the Golden Flashes with a 7.89 ERA over 21-2/3 innings. The sophomore made two starts last season. Youngstown State started Kevin Yarabinec, Gino DiVincenzo and Jeremy Quinlan on the mound against NKU last week.

Scouting Kent State: Kent State is 17-8 overall this season with a 3-1 mark at home and a 5-1 record in MAC play. The preseason MAC champions lead the conference with a .313 batting average and 26 home runs, and their 3.58 team ERA ranks second. Luke Burch owns the MAC's top individual average at .411, and Tim DalPorto ranks third with a .356 mark. Right-hander Austin Havekost, who has a 2.79 ERA over 9-2/3 innings, will start against YSU on Tuesday.

Scouting Wright State: Wright State is undefeated in Horizon League play and owns an 18-7 overall mark heading into a game against Toledo on Tuesday. The Raiders have swept Valparaiso, Milwaukee and Oakland to start conference play, and they also have two wins over No. 10 Clemson and one victory over No. 4 South Carolina to their credit this season. The preseason conference favorites have a team ERA of 3.16, and all three members of their weekend rotation have an ERA under 1.60. Danny Sexton and Zane Collins have both been named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week twice.