The Youngstown State baseball team scored four runs in the top of the ninth and survived a scare in the bottom half of the inning to outlast Eastern Michigan for a 9-7 win on Tuesday evening.
In what started out as a slugfest with 11 combined runs in the first three innings, the Penguins relied on their bullpen to set the stage for a dramatic ninth inning.
With the Penguins trailing 7-5 to start the ninth, Nick Massey, Jeff Wehler and Blaze Glenn drew three straight walks to load the bases with one out. Massey scored on a fielder's choice to cut the margin to one, and Zach Lopatka's two-out double brought in Glenn with the tying run. After Drew Dickerson walked to load the bases again, Austin Trace plated pinch-runner Lucas Nasonti with an infield single that proved to be the winning run. Lopatka then raced home on a passed ball to give the Penguins an insurance run and a 9-7 lead.
Eastern Michigan certainly had a chance in the ninth as it loaded the bases with nobody out, but Dalton Earich didn't allow a ball to leave the infield as he retired the next three hitters. Earich struck out Kolton Schenker for the first out, and the freshman reliever then threw out a runner at the plate on a grounder back to the mound from EMU's leadoff batter. Max Schuemann then grounded out to second base on a full-count pitch for the final out of the game.
Glenn, Lopatka and Dickerson each had two hits, and Glenn hit his third home run of the season for the Penguins.
Youngstown State's only lead until the ninth was 1-0 after Massey doubled and scored on Glenn's RBI single in the top of the first. The first three Eagles batters all reached in the bottom of the first, and John Rensel Jr.'s home run put EMU ahead 3-1 after there was an out in the inning.
The Penguins had to play from behind the rest of the night, but they kept clawing. YSU quickly tied the score in the top of the second when Dickerson doubled in Lopatka and Cody Dennis singled home Dickerson.
EMU got a pair of RBI singles in the bottom of the inning to go up 5-3, but the Penguins struck right back again as Glenn's two-run home run with one out in the top of the third tied the contest at 5-5. Luke DeVenney's solo homer in the bottom of the inning put the Eagles up 6-5, and they added a run in the sixth on an RBI double by Rensel Jr. Austin Butler came in to get back-to-back strikeouts with two Eagles in scoring position in the sixth to keep the deficit at two, which allowed the Penguins to have their rally in the ninth.
After the Eagles scored five runs in the first two innings, five Penguins relievers limited them to two runs over the final seven frames. Alex Bellardini surrendered one run over the third through fifth innings to slow EMU down, and Butler, Jakob Brustoski and Earich blanked the Eagles over the final 11 outs. Brustoski was awarded his first career win, and Earich notched his first save.
Youngstown State will host UIC in a three-game Horizon League series on Friday and Saturday at Eastwood Field. The Penguins and Flames will play a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. on Friday, and they'll finish the series on Saturday at 1 p.m.