The Youngstown State baseball team took another step forward under second-year head coach Dan Bertoini in 2018. The Penguins surpassed their 2017 win totals with 10 league victories and 18 overall in 2018. The team's 10 league wins this season were its most since 2009, and its 18 total wins were the most since the 2010 squad won 22 games.
The Guins have recorded the most conference wins (19) in back-to-back seasons since the 2009-2010 campaigns, and the most regular-season wins (33) since 2010-2011. YSU also earned its first Horizon League Tournament victory since winning the championship in 2014 with a 4-1 win over Oakland in the first round on May 23.
YSU won its first season opener since 2010 with an 8-4 win at Belmont on Feb. 16 and swept a league opponent for the first time since 2012 when it won three straight over UIC March 30-31. The Penguins also finished the campaign with a 5-2 record against opponents from the Mid-American Conference.
Patience At The Plate: YSU drew a Horizon League-best 272 walks this season, shattering the previous school record of 234 which was set in 2013. The Penguins set the single-season walks mark in a win at Toledo on May 8 and ranked as high as 30th in the nation in base on balls at one point. Trey Bridis drew a career-high 42 walks this season, which ranks as the second most in a single season in school history. He is just the second Penguin to walk at least 40 times in a season and the first since Steve Mefferd set the record with 52 in 2001. Additionally, Blaze Glenn walked 38 times (tied for third most) and Andrew Kendrick 31 times (tied for ninth most). The Penguins had 11 different players walk at least 10 times while five players drew at least 20 free passes.
Smooth Criminals: YSU had 86 stolen bases as a team this season, which ranked second in the Horizon League. That total is also tied for the second most in a single season in school history. This season marked the first time the Penguins stole at least 80 bases in a season since the 1998 campaign. YSU had three players who ranked in the top 10 of the league in stolen bases. Jeff Wehler ranked second with 25, Blaze Glenn was sixth with 16 and Trey Bridis was eighth with 13. YSU's eight steals at Northern Kentucky on May 11 tied for the second most in a single game in school history and was just one shy of the record. It also marked the first time since 1986 that the Penguins had at least eight steals in a game. YSU stole at least three bases in 14 different games this season. Bridis and Glenn are two of just four players in school history to record at least 10 HR and 10 steals in the same season. Glenn, Wehler and Lucas Nasonti each had games in which they recorded three stolen bases this season, becoming three of just six players since 2000 to do so. Before this season, only one Penguin had stolen at least three bases in a game since 2003; Lorenzo Arcuri accomplished the feat twice in 2017.
Using The Long Ball: Trey Bridis had 13 home runs this season, Blaze Glenn had 11 and Andrew Kendrick hit nine. It marked just the second time in school history that three Penguins hit at least nine home runs in a season. This season was also the first time in school history that two Penguins hit at least 11 four baggers in the same season. YSU hit 44 home runs as a team in 2018, which ranked second in the league and as the third most in a single season in school history. It also marked the first time in school history the Guins have hit at least 40 homers in back-to-back seasons; they hit 50 in 2017. YSU has hit a combined 94 dingers over the past two seasons after averaging just 14.2 homers per year over the previous six years.
A Week To Remember On Offense: Youngstown State went 4-1 during the week of May 7-13 with two wins over MAC opponents, Toledo and Ohio. The Penguins scored at least 10 runs in each contest and ranked at or near the top nationally of four different offensive categories for the week. The Guins ranked first in the nation with 13 home runs, first with 21 steals, second with 64 runs and third with 17 doubles. YSU's 20 hits at Northern Kentucky on May 11 was a season high and tied for the fifth most in a single game in program history. It also marked the first time YSU had at least 20 hits in a game since 2010. On May 14, Trey Bridis was named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the Horizon League Co-Batter of the Week after he batted .500 and slugged 1.042 while hitting four home runs for the week.
Newcomers Make Major Impact: YSU had 23 newcomers on its roster this season and a large number of them ended up playing major roles. In addition to Glenn's impressive offensive production, second baseman Drew Dickerson, another transfer in his first season with the program, was third on the team with a .280 batting average and 54 total hits. Right-hander Greg Dunham was the team's Friday starter for most of the season before an injury slowed him down the stretch. Versatile lefty Zach Lopatka was a regular part of the lineup in the outfield and was also in the weekend pitching rotation before injuries cut his season short as well. In addition to the four freshmen who earned postseason recognition, Austin Butler, Nick Caruso, Colin Clark, Chad Coles, Cody Dennis, Kip DeShields, Dalton Earich, Nick Massey and Austin Trace also saw significant action in their first season with the program.
Sitting Them Down: As a pitching staff, the Penguins registered 399 strikeouts this season. That total ranks as the fourth most in a single season in program history. This was the first season since 2010 in which the Penguins struck out at least 350 batters as a team. YSU had 11 different pitchers record at least 20 strikeouts and eight different Penguins started a game on the mound. The group was dealt a difficult hand down the stretch as all three of its regular weekend starters from earlier in the season went out with injuries. Sophomore right-hander Greg Dunham and junior lefty Collin Floyd, who were the team's top-two arms for most of the season, each made just one start in May before being shut down. Additionally, Zach Lopatka, who was the team's Sunday starter for a majority of the campaign, was sidelined in late April.
Community Outreach Award: The 2017-18 YSU baseball team was named as the school's recipient of the Horizon League Team Community Outreach Award in late April for its outstanding work in the community. The team accumulated over 400 community service/outreach hours during the past academic year as players and coaches volunteered at a number of events and with various organizations. This season marked the first time the baseball program had ever earned the honor as the YSU softball team had won the award each of the previous six years and seven of the last eight. This season was also the first time a male sport won the award since 2007-08.
Seven Earn All-League Accolades: Youngstown State had seven players garner postseason Horizon League honors in 2018, matching the most in a season in school history. The Penguins also had seven players be honored by the league in 2007. YSU's seven honorees were second only to Wright State, which had nine players earn postseason recognition. Trey Bridis was named First-Team All-Horizon League while Collin Floyd, Blaze Glenn and Jeff Wehler were each named Second-Team All-Horizon League. Wehler, Lucas Nasonti, Nick LaBrasca and Jakob Brustoski were voted to the All-Freshman Team. This was the first season since 2010 in which the Penguins had four players be named to the first or second teams.
Kendrick Concludes Historic Career: First baseman Andrew Kendrick leaves Youngstown State as one the best power hitters in program history. The Springfield, Mo., native set the school's career record for home runs by hitting the 28th of his YSU career at Wright State on Friday, April 13. Kendrick eclipsed Erich Diedrich's mark of 27 home runs that had stood since 2008. He broke the record in just three seasons after playing his freshman campaign at Highland Community College in Kansas. After setting the YSU single-season record for home runs with 17 in 2017, Kendrick hit nine this season to push his career total to 30 and become the first Penguin to ever hit at least nine blasts in two different seasons. In addition, Kendrick finishes his career sixth in school history with 85 career walks.
Stellar Senior Season For Bridis: Center fielder Trey Bridis finished his YSU career with a very impressive season which saw him be named First-Team All-Horizon League. On May 14, Bridis was named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the Horizon League Co-Batter of the Week after a week in which he batted .500 and hit four home runs. He finished the season ranked in the top 10 of the Horizon League in eight different offensive categories. Bridis posted team and career highs with 42 walks and 13 home runs in 2018. Each of those totals ranked second in the league and as the second most in a single season in school history. Bridis is the only Penguin to ever record 10-plus homers and 40-plus walks in the same season, and he is one of just two to record at least 12 homers and 13 stolen bases in the same season.
Bridis Bombs: Trey Bridis became just the second Penguin to ever hit at least 13 home runs in a season, joining teammate Andrew Kendrick, who set the school record with 17 in 2017. Bridis went on an absolute tear in May, hitting eight blasts over his final 12 games of the regular season. For perspective, Bridis hit a total of eight homers in 2017 and is one of 21 players in program history to hit at least eight home runs for an entire season. Bridis and Kendrick are two of just six players in school history to hit at least eight homers in two different seasons. Bridis hit five leadoff jacks on the year and went yard twice in the same game on two different occasions. He finishes his career tied for fifth in program history with 22 career home runs.
More career notes for Bridis:
- 79 career walks: T-8th most in school history
- 49 runs scored in 2018: T-6th most in a season
- 114 total bases in 2018: 9th most in a season
Impressive Debut Season For Glenn: Sophomore outfielder Blaze Glenn made quite an impression in his first season as a Penguin. The transfer from Sinclair Community College was named Second-Team All-Horizon League after finishing the season ranked in the top 10 of the league in nine different offensive categories. Glenn led YSU this season with a .325 batting average, 64 hits, 13 doubles, 43 RBIs, a .558 slugging percentage and a .445 OBP. He was also second on the squad with 39 walks and 16 stolen bases; he was a perfect 16-for-16 in stolen-base attempts. Glenn reached base in 46 consecutive games from Feb. 24 through May 15, which was believed to be the longest streak in the country when it ended. His 11 home runs this season are tied for the fourth most in a single season in school history. Glenn was the only Penguin to play and start all 56 games this season. His 56 games played tied for the most in a single season in school history and he is the first Penguin to play in that many contests since Phil Lapari in 2013.
Floyd Fans Fifty Again: Second-Team All-Horizon League honoree Collin Floyd ranked fourth in the league this season with a career-high 82 strikeouts and has now recorded at least 50 K's in each of the past three seasons. Floyd's 82 K's tied for the seventh most in a single season in school history, and he was the first Penguin to strike out at least 80 batters in a season since Phil Klein in 2011. His K/9 of 10.64 is the sixth highest in a season in school history for those with a minimum of 50 innings. Floyd was 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA and 24 strikeouts over his first three league starts and was named Horizon League Pitcher of the week on April 2 before his season was cut short due to injury. The Akron, Ohio, native currently ranks 10th in program history with 190 career strikeouts and eighth with 38 games started. Next season, he will likely become just the eighth Penguin to record 200 career strikeouts and the ninth to make 40 starts.
Fabulous Freshmen: True freshmen Jakob Brustoski, Nick LaBrasca, Lucas Nasonti and Jeff Wehler were each named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team this season while Wehler also garnered second-team all-league honors. The only other time that YSU had four players be named to the league's All-Freshman or All-Newcomer team was in 2007. Wehler led YSU while ranking second in the Horizon League this season with 25 stolen bases. That total is the most ever by a YSU freshman, and he became the first Penguin since 1988 to reach at least 25 steals in a season. His total also ranks as the fourth most in a single season in school history, and only three freshmen in the country had more steals at the conclusion of the regular season.
Bellardini Answers The Bell: Senior right-hander Alex Bellardini was named Horizon League Pitcher of the Week twice in the final three weeks of the regular season. The Elmira, N.Y., native was inserted into the weekend rotation in late April due to injuries and stepped up big. He allowed one run on just six hits over six innings to lead the Penguins to a 14-7 win over NKU on May 12 and earn his second weekly honor. Bellardini struck out four batters and only walked two while notching his second consecutive conference victory. He picked up his fourth win in just this fourth start of the season after spending most of the campaign in a relief role. The senior was coming off another dominant performance against Oakland the week before that earned him his first weekly honor. He was the first player to garner back-to-back weekly league honors this season. Bellardini was also brilliant in his first start against Bowling Green on April 24, allowing just four hits over six shutout innings on his way to earning the win. In his final start, the senior pitched four strong innings against Oakland in the first round of the Horizon League Tournament to help the Penguins earn a 4-1 win and avoid elimination.
Hake Earns All-Academic Honors: Junior reliever Joel Hake was named to the Horizon League's 2018 All-Academic Team during the final month of the season. Hake served as the Penguins' primary closer and led the team with 26 appearances. He is now tied for sixth all-time in school history with 76 career appearances. Hake led the Penguins and tied for second in the Horizon League with a career-high four saves. His four saves also tied for the sixth most in a single season in school history. The Youngstown native recorded a career-high 35 strikeouts while walking just 12 batters this season. Hake holds a 3.65 GPA as a nursing major.