Baseball Returns Home to Host Kent State Wednesday, UIC for Weekend Series

Brett Souder (Photo by Ken Lanese)
Brett Souder (Photo by Ken Lanese)

The Youngstown State baseball team will play four home games at Eastwood Field this week beginning with a non-conference contest against Kent State on Wednesday at 5 p.m. ET. YSU will then host UIC for a three-game Horizon League series beginning on Friday.

The Penguins and Flames are scheduled to play at 5 p.m. on Friday in the opener, at 3 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. All four games this week will be broadcast live on YSNLive.com. Live stats will be available through links on YSUsports.com, and fans can also follow @YSUBaseball on Twitter for live updates.

Probable Starters:

Promotions

  • Wednesday's game will feature this season's first "T-shirts for Strikeouts" promotion. T-shirts will be thrown into the crowd when a YSU pitcher strikes out an opposing batter courtesy of Springfield Grille. Wednesday will also feature the first Quaker Steak "Strikeout Inning" where if a YSU pitcher strikes out an opposing batter during a specific inning, all fans will receive a coupon for a buy-one, get-one-free appetizer of equal or lesser value at Quaker Steak and Lube.
  • $1 hot dogs and $1 pop will be available during Friday's series opener with UIC. All Friday games this season at Eastwood Field (excluding May 17) will feature dollar dogs and dollar pop.
  • Friday's game will also feature a McDonald's "Home Run Giveaway". If a YSU player hits a home run, all fans will go home with a coupon for a free McDouble, courtesy of McDonald's.
  • Saturday's contest will be a special "Pink Game" as YSU will wear pink jersey tops in support of breast cancer awareness.
  • Sunday's series finale will be a Rise Pies Free Pizza Game. If YSU scores five runs or more, all fans will receive a coupon for a free cheese pizza at Rise Pies.

Previewing Opponents

Scouting The Golden Flashes

  • Kent State began the week at 10-14 overall and 1-3 in MAC play, and having lost four of its last six games. The Golden Flashes will host Malone University on Tuesday before making the trip to the Mahoning Valley.
  • Sophomore outfielder Ben Carew leads the Golden Flashes with a .352 batting average, 32 total hits and 10 stolen bases while senior infielder/pitcher Pavin Parks paces the squad with 19 RBIs. Senior catcher Pete Schuler is hitting .311 and slugging .511 with four home runs and 18 RBIs.
  • Junior right-hander Zach Schultz boasts a 1.33 ERA over 20.1 innings and nine appearances, eight of which have come out of the bullpen. Parks maintains an ERA of 1.54 over 11.2 innings and six appearances.
  • Three-time MAC Coach of the Year Jeff Duncan has led Kent State to three straight regular season conference crowns. The Golden Flashes went 40-18 last season, and also won the MAC Tournament. 
  • The Golden Flashes have won five straight in the series after a 10-5 victory earlier this season on March 12 at Olga Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.

Scouting The Flames

  • UIC entered the week with at 10-11 overall and 6-2 in Horizon League play. The Flames are currently atop the league standings with a half-game lead over Wright State. 
  • UIC will host Northwestern for midweek contest on Wednesday before traveling to Youngstown. The Flames have won three straight games after taking both contests they played at Milwaukee this past weekend.
  • Freshman catcher Ryan Hampe leads the Horizon League with a .429 batting average while ranking second with a .500 OBP and fifth with a .548 slugging percentage. 
  • Senior outfielder Scott Ota, who was named Horizon League Batter of the Week on Monday, ranks in the top 10 of the league in seven different categories. He is batting .342 and slugging .633 with a league-best six home runs and team-best 15 RBIs.
  • The Flames lead the Horizon League with a team ERA of 3.24 while allowing a league-low 164 hits, 92 runs and a .244 opposing batting average.
  • Four different UIC pitchers have an ERA of 2.00 or below. Junior right-hander Jacob Key leads the league with 51.1 innings pitched and ranks third with 41 strikeouts. He maintains an ERA of 1.93 and a record of 4-3 over seven starts. 
  • Senior right-hander and closer Alex Padilla has allowed just two hits over nine innings of work with a 2.00 ERA and two saves.

Series History

Kent State:

  • Overall: Kent State leads 61-21-1
  • Bertolini: 1-5 // Home: 13-26-1 // Away: 8-35
  • Current Win Streak: 5 by Kent State
  • The Golden Flashes took both matchups between the schools in 2018, winning 7-2 in seven innings at Schoonover Stadium in late March and 5-1 at Eastwood Field in mid May.
  • YSU's last win in the series came during Head Coach Dan Bertolini's first season on April 4, 2017, when it defeated a Kent State team that was ranked No. 29 in the nation at Eastwood Field, 11-6.
  • First meeting: May 1, 1979

UIC:

  • Overall: UIC leads 57-23
  • Bertolini: 3-8 // Home: 19-20 // Away: 2-35 // Neutral: 2-2
  • Current Win Streak: 3 by UIC
  • YSU and UIC split the 2018 season series as each team swept a three-game games on its home field. The Penguins swept a Horizon League opponent for the first time since 2012 when they won three games over the Flames in late March while the Flames returned the favor in late Mary during the final weekend of the regular season.
  • First meeting: May 14, 2004

A Win on Wednesday Would…

  • Be YSU's fifth of the season and 38th under Head Coach Dan Bertolini.
  • Give the Penguins their third win in five games.
  • Snap a five-game losing streak to Kent State.
  • Give YSU a split of the season series with the Golden Flashes.
  • Be the Penguins' second straight victory at Eastwood Field and improve their home record to 3-2.

A Win on Friday Would…

  • Improve YSU's Horizon League record to 3-7.
  • Snap a three-game losing streak to UIC.
  • Be the Penguins' fourth straight victory over the Flames at Eastwood Field.
  • Be YSU's second victory in its last three league contests.

Last Time vs. Kent State - Tuesday, March 12, 2019 (L 5-10)

  • Youngstown State dropped a 10-5 decision to Kent State earlier this season at Schoonover Stadium in its fifth game in five days.
  • The Golden Flashes scored in each of the first four innings to build an 8-1 lead before the Penguins plated one in the fifth and two in the seventh to shave the deficit to four.
  • However, YSU would get no closer as Kent State responded with two runs in the home half of the seventh to push its advantage back to six. The Guins plated their final run in the eighth for the final margin.
  • Kent State snapped a three-game losing streak and won its fifth straight in the series.
  • Lucas Nasonti matched his career high with three hits including a double and also scored twice. Phillip Glasser went 2-for-3 with a double and two walks.
  • Blaze Glenn doubled, walked and drove in a season-high three runs while Trevor Wiersma hit his fourth home run of the season. Jeff Wehler walked twice, scored a run and snatched his fifth stolen base of 2019.
  • YSU set season highs at the time with nine hits and eight walks, and six different Penguins recorded at least one hit in the contest. The Penguins actually out-hit the Golden Flashes 9-8, but left a total of 10 runners on base.
  • Ben Carew led Kent State with three hits including two doubles while driving in a pair of runs and scoring three times. Pete Schuler went 2-for-3 with a double, two walks, a run scored and a team-high three RBIs. Nick Elsen and Pavin Parks each homered for the Golden Flashes.
  • Zach Lopatka suffered the loss after allowing six runs on five hits over two innings in his first start of the season. Cade Negley and Travis Perry each surrendered two runs in five combined innings out of the bullpen while Kip DeShields did not allow a hit and struck out a season-high three batters during a scoreless eighth.
  • Max Rippl was awarded the win after allowing just one run on three hits over three innings of work. KSU starter Peyton Deats was charged with one run on two hits in three innings.

Recapping Wright State

Game 1 - Friday, March 29 (L 1-7)

  • Youngstown State fell 7-1 to Wright State in the opener of a three-game Horizon League series on Friday afternoon at Nischwitz Stadium.
  • The Raiders went ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning before the Penguins tied it with a run in the second. Wright State then scored six runs over the third, fourth and fifth innings to pull away. 
  • Wright State starter Bear Bellomy earned the win after allowing one run on only three hits and striking out nine batters with just one walk over seven innings. The senior right-hander sat down the Penguins in order in five different frames. He retired 11 straight hitters at one point as YSU went without a hit between the fifth and eighth innings.
  • YSU's bullpen did a nice job keeping the deficit at six runs as three Penguins relievers blanked the Raiders over their final three at-bats. Dalton Earich, Chad Coles and Grant Kersh each worked a scoreless inning of relief.
  • Cameron Murray recorded a season-high two hits including an RBI single in second. Drew Dickerson and Lucas Nasonti each singled while Blaze Glenn hit his fifth double and stole his 10th base of the season. Dickerson scored a run and notched his seventh stolen base of the campaign.

Game 2 - Saturday, March 30 (W 10-8)

  • YSU scored a season-high 10 runs over the first four innings of play, and withstood a late charge to earn a 10-8 win over defending Horizon League champion Wright State on Saturday.
  • Trailing 10-7, the Raiders got their first two hitters aboard in the bottom of the ninth with a single and walk. After Brett Souder retired the next two batters on a fly out and a strikeout, another walk loaded the bases to bring the potential winning run to the plate.
  • In the next at bat, Chase Slone also walked to drive home a run and cut the YSU lead to two runs. However, Earich came out of the bullpen and struck out Connor Regan looking to end the game and even the series at a game apiece.
  • The win was YSU's second in three games, snapped a 10-game losing streak to Wright State, and was the Penguins' first win over the Raiders in Dayton since April of 2015. 
  • WSU hit four home runs, scored in seven different innings, and plated the final six runs of the game, but could not overcome YSU's early offensive outburst. The Raiders jumped ahead 1-0 in the bottom of the first before the Penguins scored all 10 of their runs over the next three innings. YSU led 10-2 after the top of the fourth, but Wright State scored in five of the final six innings to create the late-game drama.
  • Eight different Penguins had a hit, and Jeff Wehler, Steven D'Eusanio and Dylan Swarmer each had two. Wehler was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, three RBIs and a career-high four stolen bases.
  • Phillip Glasser drove in a pair of runs and scored twice while D'Eusanio, Glenn and Murray also had an RBI. In addition to their season-high 10 runs, the Penguins also matched a season high with 11 hits.
  • YSU starter Marco DeFalco allowed four runs, three of them earned, on five hits over 5.2 innings to earn his first-career win. Earich was awarded his first save of the season after his game-sealing punch out in the ninth.
  • Brandon Matthews surrendered three runs on three hits over two innings, and Kip DeShields recorded the final out of the eighth before Souder and Earich came on in the ninth.

Game 3 - Sunday, March 31 (L 8-18)

  • YSU got plenty of offense but couldn't slow down Wright State as the Penguins dropped the series finale 18-8 to the Raiders on a cold Sunday afternoon.
  • Wright State scored the game's first five runs, and the Raiders crossed the plate seven times in the fourth inning to take a 12-2 lead. YSU sprinted back into the game with a five-run fifth, but Wright State countered with three runs in the bottom of the frame and ended up scoring six of the game's final seven runs.
  • Dickerson had a team-high three hits, and Zach Farrar had a pair of hits and plated four runs from the designated hitter spot. Glenn hit a pair of doubles, and Glasser, Trevor Wiersma and Web Charles also had hits.
  • After falling behind 5-0, YSU cut into the difference with two outs in the fourth when Farrar singled in Charles and Dickerson to make the score 5-2. Charles had reached on a one-out single, and Dickerson followed with a double.
  • Wright State swung the momentum back in its favor immediately in the bottom of the inning when Chase Slone led off with a homer, and the Raiders went on to score seven runs on six hits, two walks and a hit batter in the frame to go up 12-2.
  • Youngstown State got back in the game with five runs on three hits in the top of the fifth to make the score 12-7. Glenn hit a one-out double and came around on a pair of wild pitches, and Dickerson singled in Wiersma with two outs. D'Eusanio, who had walked, scored on another wild pitch to make the score 12-5, and Farrar plated Dickerson and Swarmer with a two-out double.
  • YSU's final run came in the sixth when Murray drew a leadoff walk, stole a pair of bases and scored on Glenn's RBI groundout.

Quick Notes Around The Diamond

  • Going into the week, YSU leads the Horizon League with 53 stolen bases, and also leads the conference with a success rate of .828 (53-for-64) in stolen base attempts.
  • The Penguins' 53 stolen bases also rank 24th nationally as of April 1, and their 1.96 steals per game rank second in the Horizon League and 27th in the nation.
  • Four Penguins rank in the top 10 of the HL in stolen bases. Jeff Wehler ranks second with 14 steals, Blaze Glenn is third with 10, Drew Dickerson is tied for fourth with eight and Lucas Nasonti is tied for ninth with four.
  • Wehler ranks 36th in the nation with his 14 steals, and his 0.54 steals per game rank 42nd in the country.
  • YSU is tied with Wright State for the Horizon League lead with 124 walks heading into the week. The Penguins have five players who have drawn at least 10 free passes, and three who rank top 10 in the league.
  • Glenn is tied for third with 19 walks, Wehler is tied for seventh with 15 and Trevor Wiersma is tied for 10th with 14. YSU walked a school-record 272 times in 2018.
  • YSU set season highs with 10 runs, eight RBIs and six stolen bases in Saturday's win at Wright State. The Guins also matched their season high with 11 hits in the victory. YSU has swiped at least two bases in four straight games, in 11 of its last 13, and in 16 of 27 contests overall.
  • Glenn was named Horizon League Batter of the Week on Feb. 25 after batting .500 with two singles, a double, a two-run home run and four RBIs in eight at-bats over three games at No. 6/11 Florida State.
  • Wehler and Wiersma are each tied for third in the Horizon League with four home runs.
  • Sophomore left-hander Colin Clark ranks seventh in the league with 36.1 innings pitched, and eighth with 27 strikeouts. Clark also leads the circuit and ranks 16th in the nation with seven games started.
  • With its win over Pitt last Wednesday, YSU earned its third win over an ACC opponent in the last three years, and beat the Panthers for the second time this season.
  • With a 6-5 win over Oakland in the first game of a doubleheader on March 23, YSU won its home opener for the first time since the 2012 season.
  • Inclement weather or the threat of it has caused schedule changes to be made in six of the Penguins' first seven weekend series of the 2019 season.
  • YSU played its first 19 games of the season on the road before its home-opening series with Oakland on March 23-24.
  • The Penguins have led in 18 of their 27 games this season. They have held eight first-inning leads and scored first in 13 contests.
  • Wednesday will begin a stretch in which YSU will play five of its next six and 10 of its next 15 games at home.

Notebook

Strong Stretch For Wehler and Dickerson

  • Sophomore outfielder Jeff Wehler has had a hit in six of his last seven games, in 10 of his last 12 and in 13 of his last 17. He has also reached base in 12 of his last 13 outings, and notched seven multi-hit games over his last 17 games played.
  • Wehler was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs scored, three RBIs and a career-high four stolen bases in Saturday's 10-8 win over defending Horizon League champion Wright State.
  • Over his last 12 games, Wehler is batting .356 and slugging .556 with 16 total hits, three doubles, two home runs and eight RBIs. He has also drawn eight walks, scored seven runs,  and stolen nine bases while posting 25 total bases and an OBP of .455 over that stretch.
  • Wehler leads YSU with a .417 slugging percentage, 24 total hits, 40 total bases, seven multi-hit games, 16 runs scored and 14 stolen bases in 17 attempts. He is also hitting .387 and slugging .548 with a .500 OBP, 12 hits, six RBIs and a league-best eight steals in eight Horizon League games.
  • Wehler is tied for the team lead and ranks tied for third in the league with four home runs. He is also tied for seventh in the HL with 15 walks and tied for ninth with 16 runs scored.
  • Senior infielder Drew Dickerson is hitting .359 and slugging .462 over his last 12 games with 14 hits, four doubles, three RBIs, seven walks, 10 runs scored, 18 total bases, seven steals and a .457 OBP. He is also batting a team-best .429 and slugging .536 in eight league contests.
  • Dickerson began the season just 3-for-25 at the plate over his first eight games.
  • The senior is a perfect 8-for-8 in stolen base attempts, and his eight steals rank tied for fourth in the Horizon League. Dickerson had just four steals all of last season.
  • In Horizon League action, Dickerson ranks fourth in the circuit with his .429 batting average, tied for fifth with a .500 OBP and 12 hits, tied for fourth with three doubles, and second with six stolen bases. Wehler ranks sixth in batting average, tied for fifth in OBP, hits and walks and first in stolen bases during conference play.

Wehler's Historic Stolen Base Numbers

  • After stealing a team-high 25 bases last season, sophomore outfielder Jeff Wehler now ranks tied for seventh in Youngstown State history with 39 in his career. With his next steal, he will become just the seventh player in school history to swipe at least 40 bases.
  • As of April 1, Wehler ranked second in the league and 36th nationally with his 14 steals, and was 14-for-17 in stolen base attempts on the season. The sophomore has now swiped a league-best eight bags in Horizon League play after recording a career-high four stolen bases in Saturday's win at Wright State.
  • Wehler became just the third player in YSU history to steal at least four bases in a game, and the first since Nick Gesacion stole four bags against Alliance on April 27, 1968. The sophomore's four steals were one shy of the school record of five, set by Ron Aulet in 1964. He is one of only three players in school history to steal three or more bags in a game twice in their career. Wehler swiped three bases in a game at Toledo last season.
  • Wehler is one of just six Penguins since 2000 to steal at least three bases in a game. Before last season, only one Penguin had stolen at least three bases in a game since 2003. Wehler, Lucas Nasonti and Blaze Glenn each had games in which they swiped three bags in 2018.
  • Wehler's 25 steals last season ranked second in the Horizon League, and were the most ever by a YSU freshman. He became the first Penguin since 1988 to reach at least 25 swipes in a season, and his total was also the fourth-most in a single season in school history. Only three freshmen in the nation had more steals than Wehler at the end of the 2018 regular season.

DeShields Getting It Done

  • Senior right-hander Kip DeShields has been one of YSU's most reliable arms out of the bullpen this season. 
  • Over his last six appearances, DeShields has permitted just one run on two hits over six innings with a 1.85 ERA while striking out five batters. He also picked up a pair of victories over that stretch. 
  • The Beloit, Ohio, native's first victory came on March 23 against Oakland after he entered in the sixth inning with one out and runners at second and third. The senior got a strikeout and a fielder's choice to keep the Penguins within a run, and help them to an eventual 6-5 victory. 
  • DeShields' second victory of 2019 came on March 27 against Pitt when he pitched a perfect top of the 10th inning to set up YSU's walk-off 3-2 win in the bottom half.
  • DeShields recorded the final out of the eighth inning in YSU's win at Wright State on Saturday, and tossed a scoreless frame in the series finale on Sunday.

Young Pitchers Stepping Up

  • With veteran pitchers Collin Floyd and Zack Minney out for 2019 campaign due to offseason Tommy John surgery and senior closer Joel Hake continuing to battle a nagging injury, YSU has had to rely on a group of young pitchers this season.
  • The Penguins have 10 underclassmen who have made at least six pitching appearances. In addition, sophomores Colin Clark and Chad Coles have each made at least six starts.
  • In the first six appearances of his career, freshman RHP Brandon Matthews has allowed six runs and fanned 10 batters with a 3.31 ERA over 16.1 innings out of the bullpen. He had tossed four straight scoreless innings before giving up three runs on three hits over two frames in Saturday's win at Wright State.
  • In his collegiate debut at Miami (Ohio), Matthews surrendered only one hit and struck out three batters in four innings of scoreless relief. He followed that by holding Pitt to one run on three hits and one walk over four innings to earn his first collegiate victory on March 13.
  • Over his last seven appearances, freshman LHP Marco DeFalco has allowed five earned runs on 13 hits over 18.2 innings with a 2.41 ERA. He entered in the eighth inning at Pitt on March 13, and allowed no runs on two hits over a two innings to earn his first career save.
  • In just his second career start, DeFalco put forth another impressive pitching performance in game two of a doubleheader with Oakland. He was charged with two runs, one earned, on just three hits over a career-high six innings. YSU led 3-1 when DeFalco departed.
  • In his third start of the season this past Saturday at Wright State, DeFalco allowed four runs, three of them earned, on five hits over 5.2 innings to earn his first-career win.
  • Over his last six relief outings, freshman RHP Brett Souder has surrendered just two runs on six hits over 5.2 innings with a 3.18 ERA. He pitched a scoreless ninth inning in YSU's 6-5 win over Oakland on March 23 to earn the first save of his career.
  • Sophomore RHP Dalton Earich has allowed just three earned runs in 14.2 innings for an 1.84 ERA over his last nine outings. He has also struck out 11 batters during that stretch. 
  • Earich did not allow a hit over 1.1 scoreless innings of relief at Wright State this past weekend. He pitched a scoreless frame on Friday, and came on to record the game-sealing punch out in the ninth inning of Saturday's 10-8 victory. The sophomore entered with the bases loaded and tying run at second base, but ended the game with a strikeout to earn his first save of the season, and the second of his career.

Charles Getting Comfortable

  • Senior outfielder Web Charles has started to find his groove at the plate as of late. He has recorded at least one hit in six of his last eight games. 
  • Charles is batting .333 with nine total hits, two doubles, three RBIs, four walks and five runs scored over his last eight contests. He is slugging .407 with 11 total bases and a .419 on-base percentage over that stretch. 
  • The Reno, Nev., native went 1-for-3 in both games of a doubleheader against Oakland on March 23 at Eastwood Field. 
  • In game one, Charles walked, stole a base, scored two runs and delivered an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth inning that tied the game. He also scored what proved to be the winning run later in the inning as YSU went on to earn a 6-5 victory.
  • In game two of the doubleheader, Charles singled, scored a run and drew a pair of walks. 
  • On March 26 at Bowling Green, the senior was 3-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and a run scored; his three hits and two RBIs each matched career highs. He also went 2-for-4 with two base hits in last week's win over Pitt at Eastwood Field.

Up Next

Youngstown State will play five games next week, four of which will be on the road. The Penguins will play at Penn State on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. before hosting Toledo at Eastwood Field on Wednesday at 5 p.m. YSU will finish the week with a three-game Horizon League series at Milwaukee beginning on Friday at 2 p.m. ET.