The Youngstown State baseball team scored five runs in the first three innings and added four in the seventh to beat Milwaukee 9-3 on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Eastwood Field in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Penguins finish the regular season with a 13-40 overall record and a 7-20 mark in Horizon League play, and Saturday's victory sets up a rematch with the Panthers in the opening round of the Horizon League Baseball Championship on Wednesday at 4 p.m. The sixth-seeded Penguins and third-seeded Panthers will play in a single-elimination contest in the second game of the tournament, which will be hosted by Wright State at Nischwitz Stadium.
The Penguins led five outs into the game after Drew Dickerson hit a two-run single in the bottom of the first, and they held that advantage for the duration. YSU added three runs in the third to go up 5-0, and Milwaukee scored its three runs over the fifth and sixth innings to cut the margin to two. Youngstown State scored four two-out runs in the seventh inning to create the final margin and end the home campaign with an 11-11 record.
Senior Trevor Wiersma went 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, and Drew Dickerson had three RBIs to lead the Penguins. Steven D'Eusanio had a big two-run single with two outs in the seventh inning to allow YSU to add insurance.
YSU put pressure on Milwaukee starter Elijah Goodman from the outset as Lucas Nasonti led off with a single and Blaze Glenn and Jeff Wehler drew one-out walks. Goodman fanned Wiermsa for the second out, but Dickerson served a 2-1 pitch into right field to plate Nasonti and Glenn and give the Penguins a 2-0 lead.
Phillip Glasser got things going again in the third with a leadoff double, and the Penguins loaded the bases with a Glenn walk and a Wehler single. Wiersma came through in the bases-loaded situation this time by hitting an RBI single to right that put the Penguins up 3-0 and knocked Goodman from the game. Glenn and Wehler then scored when the Panthers misplayed a potential double-play ball up the middle hit by Dickerson off Patrick Tomfohrde. Mitchell Buban raced in front of the bag to field Dickerson's bouncer, and shortstop Trevor Schwecke fumbled the back-hand flip.
YSU starter Marco DeFalco allowed just two hits through the first four innings, but Jack Thelen and Zach Nogalski homered to left on consecutive pitches in the fifth to cut the margin to 5-2. DeFalco left with two outs in the fifth and two runners on, and Brett Souder came out of the bullpen to strike out Joe Vyskocil to get out of the inning.
Milwaukee got another run in the sixth with the help of two walks and three hit batters, but a big double play potentially saved the game for the Penguins. Souder walked the first two batters of the inning, and Brandon Matthews came on to bean Thelen and load the bases with nobody out. Matthews then struck out Nogalski on a ball in the dirt that bounced away from catcher Dylan Swarmer, and Swarmer recovered to throw back to Matthews for a tag out of Tyler Bordner at the plate. Matthews hit the next two batters to force in a run, but Dalton Earich got Mike Ferri to ground out to Dickerson on what was the only ball put in play in the inning.
With the score 5-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Penguins blew the game open with four two-out runs that made the advantage six runs. Glasser and Glenn walked to start the inning, and Wiersma bested Clayton Uselman in a lefty-lefty matchup with a single to center that loaded the bases with one out. George Swedie, the third Milwaukee pitcher of the inning, struck out Dickerson for the second out, but Steven D'Eusanio punched a single into right to plate Glasser and Glenn and give the Penguins some breathing room. Dylan Swarmer then plated Wiersma with a single to left, and D'Eusanio scored on an error to make the score 9-3.
That lead was plenty for YSU's bullpen, which settled in to allow just one run over 4.1 hitless innings. Starting with Earich's inning-ending ground out to complete the sixth inning, YSU's relievers retired 10 of the final 11 Milwaukee hitters. Earich pitched a perfect seventh, Chad Coles pitched a perfect eighth and Kip DeShields allowed a harmless one-out walk in the ninth.
DeFalco allowed two runs on the two solo homers over 4.2 innings of work in a no-decision. Earich was awarded the victory as his four outs were the most among YSU's five relievers.
Goodman suffered the loss for the Panthers after allowing five runs on five hits and three walks in two innings. Tomfohrde took over in the third and pitched until the seventh, and he left with the Panthers down just 5-3.
For the official bracket and ticket information on the 2019 Horizon League Baseball Championship, visit HorizonLeague.com.