The Youngstown State baseball team took an early lead but was unable to hang on as they fell 5-2 in the finale of a three-game series with Belmont on Sunday afternoon.
Youngstown State has now lost two straight to drop to 1-2 after winning the season opener over the Bruins on Friday. Belmont improves to 2-1 with the win.
Junior catcher Nick Caruso went 2-for-4 with a single and a two-run double for the Penguins. Drew Dickerson went 2-for-3 with two singles and a run scored while Lucas Nasonti went 1-for-3 with a single in his first career start.
The Penguins got a pair of two-out walks in the top of the second inning by Drew Dickerson and Andrew Kendrick. Nick Caruso then blasted a two-run double down the left field line to give YSU an early 2-0 advantage.
Belmont would answer in the bottom of the third when Cully Day led off the inning with a single and was brought home on a double by Jackson Campbell to cut the deficit to 2-1. After Campbell advanced to third on a groundout, Kyle Conger hit a sacrifice fly to center which tied the game at 2-2.
The Penguins would threaten in the top of the sixth inning when Trey Bridis reached base on a one-out walk and Drew Dickerson hit a two-out single through the left side. Both runners advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch by Casey Queener but were stranded when Andrew Kendrick struck out swinging to end the threat.
Kip DeShields, who was making his first start as a Penguin, departed in the sixth inning after walking Matt Cogen with one out. The Beloit, Ohio, native and West Branch High graduate, was saddled with the loss after giving up five hits and three earned runs over 5.1 innings of work.
Zach Lopatka came on in relief of DeShields to make his first appearance on the mound this season. Chas Hadden greeted Lopatka with a single to center which advanced Cogen to third with one out. Devon Gardner then hit a hard grounder to third which ricocheted off Andrew Kendrick, scoring Cogen to put the Bruins ahead 3-2.
Belmont would add to their lead with three hits and two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Chas Hadden reached base on an infield single and Devon Gardner was hit by a Dalton Earich pitch during the next at-bat to put two on base with one out.
Lucas Nasonti showed off his arm from left field when he threw out Chas Hadden at home plate as he was attempting score on a single by Ben Kocher. However, the Bruins struck on the next at-bat when Cully Day blasted a double to left center field which scored Gardner and Kocher to put Belmont in front 5-2.
Earich was relieved by Joel Hake after giving up three hits and two earned runs over two-thirds of an inning. Hake would strike out the only batter he faced to send the game to the ninth.
Logan Bowen came on in the ninth for Belmont and retired the side in order to earn his second consecutive save.
Belmont starter Casey Queener gave up three hits and two earned runs while striking out seven over six innings to earn the victory.
Youngstown State will be back in action on Friday, Feb. 23 to begin a three-game series at Louisville. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 3 p.m. Eastern.