Baseball Returns South to Face Another Ranked Opponent in No. 6 Florida State

Joel Hake (Photo by John Vogel)
Joel Hake (Photo by John Vogel)

The Youngstown State baseball team (0-3) will face its second straight nationally-ranked opponent when it begins a three-game series against Florida State (4-0) on Friday at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. The Penguins and Seminoles will play at 4 p.m. Eastern on Friday followed by a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. The threat of inclement weather on Sunday forced a change in the original weekend schedule.

All three games will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra and WatchESPN while live audio will be available at YSNLive.com. This weekend will mark the first broadcasts of YSU baseball on the Youngstown-area sports website Your Sports Network (YSNLive.com). The program has partnered with YSN to broadcast all 22 home games, and select road contests this season. YSN founder DJ Yokley and General Manager Steve Leslie will  call the action for all three games live from Tallahassee.

Live stats will be available throughout the weekend through links on YSUsports.com, and fans can also follow @YSUBaseball on Twitter for live updates.

Colin Clark will take the ball for the Penguins on Friday while Jon Snyder and Chad Coles are slated to start games one and two on Saturday, respectively.

Scouting Florida State

  • Florida State is No. 6 in this week's Baseball America rankings and was No. 11 in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. The Seminoles began 2019 with four home wins over Maine this past weekend. 
  • Three FSU pitchers combined to no-hit the Black Bears in an 11-0 season-opening victory on Friday
  • The Seminoles, who finished 43-19 last season with an appearance in the NCAA Regionals, are led by legendary head coach Mike Martin, who is in his 40th and final season.
  • Key returners include third baseman Drew Mendoza and left-hander Drew Parrish. Mendoza is FSU's top-returning hitter (.313, 7 HR, 44 RBIs) while Parrish was 5-1 with a 2.52 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 2018. Parrish tossed five innings and struck out five in the no-hitter against Maine.
  • Right-hander C.J. Van Eyk has moved into the starting rotation after earning Freshman All-American honors last season.

A Win Would…

  • Give YSU its first win of 2019 and its 34th under Head Coach Dan Bertolini.
  • Snap a three-game losing streak and improve YSU's record to 1-3.
  • Give the Penguins their third win over a ranked opponent under Bertolini.
  • Give YSU its first win over Florida State.
  • Give the Penguins their second win over an ACC opponent in the last three years.

Recapping Mississippi State

Game 1 (Friday, Feb. 15) / L 14-3:

  • YSU led No. 9 Mississippi State heading into the bottom of the sixth, but ultimately fell 14-3 in game one of a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field to open the 2019 season.
  • Trailing 3-0, MSU tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning before pulling away with an 11-run eighth. The Bulldogs outhit the Penguins 14-5, and recorded 13 of those hits over their final three at-bats.
  • In his first game as a Penguin, senior first baseman Trevor Wiersma went 2-for-4 with a single and a two-run home run while driving in all three YSU runs. Web Charles doubled in the contest while Cameron Murray and Jeff Wehler each singled.
  • Wiersma's home run was the first hit in the newly-renovated Dudy Noble Field at Polk DeMent Stadium. More than 8,500 fans were in attendance as Mississippi State unveiled the brand new, state-of-the-art facility. The stadium's renovation project totaled $68 million.
  • Clark had a very impressive start on the mound, allowing three earned runs on four hits over 5.1 innings in a no-decision. The sophomore left-hander held the Bulldogs scoreless and surrendered just one hit over the first five frames. He retired 11 consecutive batters at one point while facing the minimum in the second, third and fourth innings.

Game 2 (Saturday, Feb. 16) / L 14-2:

  • YSU was held to just three hits and lost a 14-2 decision in game one of a doubleheader.
  • The two teams were originally slated to play game two of the series on Saturday and the finale on Sunday. However, the threat of inclement weather on Sunday forced the schedule change to a doubleheader on Saturday.
  • Blaze Glenn tattooed a pitch from 2018 first-round MLB Draft pick JT Ginn for a two-run home run in the first inning to give YSU an early 2-0 edge, but Mississippi State scored in each of its first five at-bats to take control.
  • The Penguins got singles from Phillip Glasser and Zach Lopatka while Glasser, Lucas Nasonti, Zach Farrar, Wiersma and Nick LaBrasca each walked in the contest.
  • Nasonti and Charles each made an impressive diving catch in the outfifeld for back-to-back outs to end the bottom of the first inning.
  • Mississippi State registered 14 total hits and eight different Bulldogs had at least one in the game. MSU pitchers held the Penguins without a hit in six different innings.
  • Coles suffered the loss after allowing seven runs on six hits over two innings. Greg Dunham worked four innings out of the bullpen while Preseason Horizon League Freshman of the Year Travis Perry tossed two scoreless innings of relief in his debut.

Game 3 (Saturday, Feb. 16) / L 8-0:

  • In the series finale, Mississippi State scored in five different innings and shut down the Penguins' bats to earn the series sweep with an 8-0 victory.
  • Cody Dennis, LaBrasca and Wiersma each recorded two singles in the game while Nasonti also had a base hit. The Penguins threatened in the fifth and seventh innings but could never break through. YSU left a total of nine runners on base in the contest.
  • Snyder took the loss in his first collegiate start after allowing three runs on five hits and striking out five in three innings of work.
  • Cade Negley, Brett Souder, Lopatka and Joel Hake made their first appearances of the 2019 season. Lopatka worked a perfect seventh and fanned a pair.
  • Wiersma made an impressive diving play on a grounder to first base in the bottom of the fourth inning. It was one of a number of defensive highlights made by the Penguins throughout the weekend.

Challenging Non-Conference Competition

In three seasons under Head Coach Dan Bertolini, the Penguins have not been afraid to challenge themselves by playing some of the best competition in the country. In Bertolini's first season in 2017, YSU earned wins over No. 17 Georgia Tech and No. 29 Kent State. Last season, the Penguins played a three-game series at No. 13 Louisville in late February before going 5-2 against opponents from the Mid-American Conference. This season, YSU will play two top-10 opponents in the first two weekends, and a total of 14 games against six different opponents from Power Five conferences. The Penguins will play mid-week contests at Penn State, Pittsburgh and West Virginia while hosting Ohio State and Pittsburgh at Eastwood Field. YSU will also play a three-game series next weekend at Tennessee Tech, which went 53-12 and reached the NCAA Super Regionals in 2018. In addition, the Penguins will play 10 games versus six different opponents from the Mid-American Conference this season.

Strong Start for Wiersma

Senior first baseman Trevor Wiersma had a very strong debut series as a member of the YSU baseball team. The graduate transfer from Concord University hit .364 with three singles, a two-run home run and three RBIs in 11 at-bats over three games. He recorded seven total bases, a walk and a run scored with an OBP of .417 while slugging .636. He went 2-for-4 with a single, a home run and a run scored while driving in all three of YSU's runs in the season opener on Friday. His homer came in the top of the fourth inning off MSU lefty Ethan Small. The Vancouver native drove in another run with a groundout in the sixth that gave YSU a 3-0 lead. He also recorded pair of singles in the series finale on Saturday. Wiersma hit at least .320 in each of his three seasons at Concord, and hit eight home runs as both a sophomore and junior. He was named the Mountain East Conference Freshman of the Year in 2016, and was a First-Team All-MEC selection as both a freshman and sophomore.

Clark Impresses in First Start of 2019

After earning the opening day start with a strong offseason, sophomore left-hander Colin Clark put forth a very impressive performance on Friday at No. 9 Mississippi State. He allowed three earned runs and scattered four hits over 5.1 innings in a no-decision. In only his sixth-career start, Clark held the Bulldogs scoreless and surrendered just one hit over the first five frames. He retired 11 consecutive batters at one point while facing the minimum in the second, third and fourth innings. The game was tied 3-3 when Clark handed the ball to the bullpen. The Circleville, Ohio, native logged 37 innings in 14 relief appearances and five starts last season as a true freshman. He will take the ball again this Friday in game one against Florida State.

Hake Approaching Career Mark for Appearances

After working one inning out of the bullpen on Saturday at Mississippi State, senior reliever Joel Hake is now seventh all-time in school history with 77 career appearances. He needs three more to crack the top-five and nine to break the career record of 85, that was set by Ryan Sellman from 2005-08. Hake was YSU's primary closer and led the team with 26 appearances last season. He also led the Penguins and tied for second in the Horizon League with a career-high four saves in 2018. The Youngstown native finished with a 1-1 record and a career-low 4.36 ERA in 33 innings pitched last season. He recorded a career-high 35 strikeouts while walking just 12 batters. In addition, his 9.55 K/9 in 2018 was more than a five-point improvement from the season prior. Hake was also named to the Horizon League's 2018 All-Academic Team, holding a 3.65 GPA as a nursing major.

Youth Movement

YSU has 10 freshman and 10 sophomores on its roster in 2019, and 16 of those underclassmen saw action in the season-opening series at Mississippi State. Sophomore pitchers Colin Clark and Chad Coles started the first two games of the series, respectively, and redshirt freshman Jon Snyder made his first collegiate start in the finale. Sophomores Lucas Nasonti, Jeff Wehler and Nick LaBrasca each appeared in the starting lineup while sophomore pitchers Dalton Earich and Cade Negley each made appearances out of the bullpen. Freshmen Marco DeFalco, Brett Souder and Travis Perry as well as sophomore Grant Kersh each made their first-career pitching appearances. Sophomore Zach Farrar and freshmen Phillip Glasser, Steven D'Eusanio and Dylan Swarmer each gained their first collegiate experience as well. Glasser started at shortstop in both games of Saturday's doubleheader, recording his first-career hit in game one.

Up Next

The Penguins will continue their challenging non-conference schedule March 1-3 with a three-game series against Tennessee Tech at Bush Stadium at the Averitt Express Baseball Complex in Cookeville, Tenn.