Late Runs Key UIC as Penguins Fall 10-4

Steven D'Eusanio (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Steven D'Eusanio (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Chicago, Ill. – UIC scored a pair of unearned runs to take an early lead and added seven runs in its final two at bats to beat the Youngstown State baseball team 10-4 on a chilly and rainy Saturday afternoon at Curtis Granderson Stadium.

The Penguins outhit the Flames 9-8 in the contest, but UIC had four of its hits in a five-run seventh as it turned a 3-1 lead into an insurmountable 8-1 lead. The Flames led 10-2 after eight innings before Youngstown State scored twice in the ninth.

Travis Perry provided the Penguins with the best road start in his young career, allowing one earned run on three hits and three walks over five innings. He left the game with the Penguins trailing 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth having thrown 95 pitches. Over his last three starts, Perry has allowed three earned runs over 18.2 innings as he continues to make a late-season surge.

Steven D'Eusanio hit his second career home run as part of a two-hit day, and Lucas Nasonti and Trevor Wiersma also had two hits for Youngstown State.

The first inning was a momentum gainer for UIC as it got the final out in the top half at the plate and scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom half. After the first two Penguins of the game were retired, Blaze Glenn hit a ground-rule double to left, and Jeff Wehler followed with a single to right. Glenn tried to score from second on the hit by Wehler, but he was called out on a close play at the plate on a good throw by Scott Ota.

In the bottom of the first, D'Eusanio threw wide on Ryan Hampe's two-out grounder, and the Flames went on to score twice. Chris Papapietro scored on the error, and Hampe scored when Joshua Figueroa followed with an RBI double.

Alex Dee led off the bottom of the fourth with a home run that accounted for the only earned run off Perry as the Flames went ahead 3-0.

D'Eusanio's second home run of the season came on an 0-2 pitch to lead off the top of the fifth as the Penguins trimmed the deficit to 3-1. Perry protected the lead by working around a leadoff single and a one-out walk in the bottom of the fifth, and he handed the ball to the bullpen with the margin being two runs.

Dalton Earich pitched a scoreless sixth inning to keep the score 3-1, but he ran into trouble in the seventh as the Flames sent 10 batters to the plate and extended their lead to 8-1. UIC's five runs came on four hits, an intentional walk of Ota and two hit batters. The first two runs came when Hampe hit a two-run double on an 0-2 pitch with one out to make the score 5-1, and the final three came on a pair of soft infield singles and a throwing error with two outs.

The Penguins got a run back in the eighth when Nasonti doubled, stole third and scored when Figueroa's throw sailed into left field. The steal was YSU's 102nd of the season, which is just two shy of the single-season record. Phillip Glasser followed with a double, and Wehler walked to put two runners on and give the Penguins a chance to cut into the lead. Glasser was thrown out at third on a double steal attempt to end the inning on a play that could have tied the steals record.

Ota hit his Horizon League-leading 18th home run with Papapietro aboard in the bottom of the eighth to increase the lead to 10-2. In the top of the ninth, Wiersma doubled and scored on an RBI single by D'Eusanio, and Cameron Murray plated D'Eusanio on a sacrifice fly for the final tally.

UIC starter Joey Frederickson allowed two runs, one of which was earned, on seven hits over 7.1 innings in his final home start. The Penguins scored their two runs in the ninth off Nick Oliff.

Brett Souder was charged with UIC's two runs in the eighth inning, and Grant Kersh came on to retire the only batter he faced to get the Penguins out of the eighth.

The Penguins will play their final road game of the regular season on Sunday as they wrap up their series at UIC. First pitch on the Flames' Senior Day is set for 1:05 p.m. Eastern.