The fifth-seeded Youngstown State baseball team will face top-seeded Wright State in the winner's bracket of the 2018 Horizon League Baseball Championship on Thursday at 11 a.m. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+, and live stats will be available through links on HorizonLeague.com. Kip DeShields will take the ball and make his seventh start of the season for the Penguins.
With both single-elimination, first-round games complete and the field narrowed to four, the tournament is now double-elimination the rest of the way. After the Penguins beat Oakland on Wednesday afternoon to advance, third-seeded Milwaukee defeated sixth-seeded Northern Kentucky 13-1 in the other first-round game. The Panthers will now face second-seeded UIC on Thursday at 3 p.m.
If YSU beats Wright State, it will play the winner of UIC and Milwaukee on Friday at noon in the winner's bracket final. If the Penguins lose to the Raiders, they will move into the loser's bracket and play again on Thursday night at 7 p.m. against the loser of UIC and Milwaukee.
Wright State (36-15, 22-6 Horizon League) will be playing on its home field as the top seed in the tournament. The Penguins were 0-6 against the Raiders during the regular season, dropping six games at Nischwitz Stadium in mid April and three more at Eastwood Field later that month. Wright State had five players named First-Team All-Horizon League on Tuesday, led by Gabe Snyder, who was voted Player of the Year. The senior first baseman led the Horizon League this season with a .360 batting average, 73 hits, 15 home runs and 70 RBIs. Starting pitcher Ryan Weiss, second baseman Matt Morrow, shortstop Chase Slone, and right fielder Peyton Burdick also garnered first-team honors. Wright State Head Coach Jeff Mercer was selected as the league's Coach of the Year. YSU is 3-3 all-time against Wright State in the Horizon League Tournament. The Penguins beat the top-seeded Raiders twice in 2014 on their way to winning the league championship.
Recapping Last Game
YSU earned a 4-1 win over Oakland on Wednesday in opening round of the league tournament to avoid elimination. The Penguins earned their first win in the league tournament since winning the championship in 2014. The contest was tied for four and a half innings before the Golden Grizzlies took a 1-0 lead in the fifth. The Penguins tied the game in the sixth before scoring two runs in the eighth and one in the ninth to advance into the winner's bracket. Blaze Glenn hit a pair of doubles, scored two of YSU's four runs and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. On the mound, Joel Hake and Austin Butler combined to pitch five innings of shutout relief after a strong start by Alex Bellardini, which allowed the offense time to rally late.
Glenn Continues Impressive Season
Blaze Glenn reached base three times in four plate appearances against Oakland on Wednesday. The Second-Team All-Horizon League honoree has now reached base in 51 of YSU's 54 games this season, including 46 straight at one point. He also became the third Penguin this season to steal three bases in a game, joining Lucas Nasonti and Jeff Wehler. Before this season, only one Penguin had stolen at least three bases in a game since 2003. Glenn is now one of just nine players in the country with at least 11 home runs and 16 stolen bases this season. After going 3-for-3 in stolen base attempts on Wednesday, he is now 16-for-16 this season. Here are the other players in the country who have also stolen at least 16 bases without being caught:
- Gabe Holt, Texas Tech (27-27)
- Jason Mallard, Louisiana Tech (25-25)
- Blake Thomas, Lipscomb (17-17)
- Alonzo Jones, Vanderbilt (16-16)
- Zach Weatherford, Wright State (16-16)
- Drew Wiss, Air Force (16-16)
*Note: Stats for all other teams as of May 22.
Quick Notes After Wednesday's Win
- With four steals against Oakland on Wednesday, YSU increased its season stolen-bases total to 86, which is tied for the second-most in school history. YSU also stole 86 bases in 1997, and the record is 104 by the 1970 squad.
- YSU had never stolen at least four bases in a game in 39 previous contests in the Horizon League Tournament.
- All 12 Penguins who played against Oakland made their debuts in the Horizon League Tournament. Trey Bridis was the only current player on the roster when the Penguins last played in the conference tournament in 2015, and he did not appear in that contest.
- Austin Butler pitched three innings of shutout relief against Oakland in what was his longest outing of the season. He retired nine of the 11 batters he faced, and he tied his season high with four strikeouts. He and Joel Hake combined to hold the Golden Grizzlies to three hits and three walks over five shutout innings out of the bullpen.
- YSU's pitchers held Oakland to just five hits. That tied for the fewest hits allowed since the Penguins held NKU to three hits on March 24.
- Wednesday's win was the fourth time that YSU held an opponent to one run this season. YSU improved to 9-1 this season when allowing three runs or fewer.
- YSU finished the season splitting six games against Oakland. In the three wins, YSU held the Golden Grizzlies to four combined runs. In the three losses to Oakland, YSU allowed 43 runs.
- Bridis doubled and singled on Wednesday to up his 2018 total bases to 114. That ranks ninth in program history, and he needs just six more to crack the top five.