#7 | Rich Pasquale
When Rich Pasquale took over as Youngstown State's head baseball coach in October 2007, he brought a great sense of energy and an unmatched passion for the game.
Pasquale came to YSU with three primary goals: attract the best players from the Youngstown area, annually finish toward the top of the Horizon League and become a nationally-respected program.
Now entering his fifth season, Pasquale has helped the Penguins' program make significant progress toward reaching those goals.
The growth was evident at the 2011 Horizon League Baseball Championship when Pasquale directed the Penguins to two wins and a third-place finish at the tournament. The two postseason wins tied for the second-most since YSU joined the conference in 2002, and the third-place finish also tied as the second-best for the Penguins. YSU led 3-0 and 6-5 before falling 8-6 in the game that would have sent it to the title round.
Two weeks after the tournament, another indicator of the program's growth arrived as senior pitcher Phil Klein was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 30th round. He became the third Penguin in two years to be selected in the top 30 rounds.
Klein admirably headlined a young pitching staff in 2011, going 5-5 with a Horizon League-high 105 strikeouts in 15 starts. His ERA was 2.26 over his last 12 starts, and he closed out his career by defeating Milwaukee in the opening round of the league tournament. Klein finished his career with 258 strikeouts, which ranks him second on the all-time list. The 105 strikeouts are the second-most for a season in school history, behind only 126 by 2001 first-round draft pick Brad Hennessey.
Klein was a second-team All-Horizon League selection, and freshman Drew Dosch was voted onto the league's all-newcomer team.
Fifth-year senior Joe Iacobucci closed out his career by being named to the all-tournament team. The outfielder hit .438 with four RBIs in four games at the tournament. He finished his career with 243 hits, which ranks as the sixth-most in school history. Iacobucci also retired ranking third in career RBIs (128), third in career total bases (341), fourth in career games played (206), fifth in career at bats (737) and sixth in career doubles (44).
The program's promise was obvious to his coaching peers in just his first year as Pasquale was voted the Horizon League Co-Coach of the Year in 2008. That season Pasquale led YSU to a third-place finish in the Horizon League standings, a four-win improvement in league games and a winning percentage increase of .199 in conference contests. YSU defeated six teams that finished with at least 30 wins - Cincinnati (39), Kent State (36), West Virginia (35), UIC (35), Bowling Green (32) and Wright State (30), and it dropped one-run contests to Georgia Tech and Penn State.
Pasquale also helped the Penguins collect an impressive list of individual accomplishments. Aaron Swenson was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore after going 6-3 and leading the league in strikeouts and innings pitched. Joe Iacobucci, Eric Marzec and Sean Lucas earned second-team all-league honors, and Iacobucci was recognized nationally as an honorable mention pick on the All-Ping! Freshman team. Lucas set career-highs in every offensive category and batted 36 points better than he did as a junior. Marzec batted an outstanding 84 points higher than he did in 2007. Josh Page was named First-Team Academic All-District after being a second-team selection the previous two years.
As a squad, six starters hit better than .300 and the pitching staff lowered its ERA by 0.63 from the previous season.
The 2009 season saw an influx of talent from four junior college stars and seven high school standouts. JUCO transfer Jacke Healey made an immediate impact in the Horizon League, earning first-team all-conference honors at shortstop. Jeremy Banks also had a very productive first season by hitting .302 with four home runs and 30 RBIs.
Sophomore pitcher Phil Klein joined Healey on the Horizon League First Team after having a breakout season. Klein went 5-2 with a 4.62 ERA and 80 strikeouts in 76 innings as he developed into a premier power pitcher in the conference. Marzec was named second-team all-conference for the second straight season at utility, and David Leon earned second-team honors at second base.
Eight starters hit at least .280, and John Koehnlein finished third in the Horizon League with a .385 batting average.
Pasquale's 2010 squad, led by a large group of seniors that the head coach developed, was perhaps the top offensive team in school history. The club set new school records with 609 hits, 60 home runs, 380 RBIs, 417 runs, 115 doubles, 920 total bases and a .460 slugging percentage. The team's 7.4 runs per contest ranked second to only the 7.5 runs per game scored by the 1964 squad.
Individually, four of those seniors continued their careers at the professional level after the season. For the first time in school history, two Penguins players were chosen in the Major League Baseball Draft. Shortstop Jacke Healey was taken in the 27th round and 813th overall by the Houston Astros. Eric Marzec, a pitcher from Canton, Ohio, was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 30th round and 909th overall. Aaron Swenson signed a free agent contract with the Baltimore Orioles, and Tom Clayton signed with Oakland County in the Frontier League.
Clayton became YSU's first conference player of the year in 56 seasons of baseball. The senior from nearby Poland, Ohio, batted .412 with 45 runs scored, 17 doubles, 10 home runs, 47 RBIs and a league-high .700 slugging percentage. Healey set school season records in home runs (12), runs scored (63) and RBIs (59).
The program has also seen a big improvement off the field under Pasquale. A new baseball locker room and lounge area was opened in 2009. Three new sets of uniforms and a vast selection of apparel have been ordered since Pasquale's arrival, and the coach has helped increase community connections and relations.
Pasquale has also been integral in developing plans for the Watson and Tressel Training Site, an indoor facility that will allow the baseball team and other Penguins squads to practice year round.
Pasquale, the seventh coach in YSU history, came to Penguin Country after spending a season as the top assistant coach at Division II Slippery Rock. Prior to that he led a drastic turnaround at Division III La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Pa., and he was an assistant for three seasons at the University of Pittsburgh.
At Slippery Rock, Pasquale helped veteran head coach Jeff Messer lead The Rock to a 35-17 record. A coach recognized for his hitting and fielding instruction, Pasquale helped SRU to a .322 batting average. Four players hit over .360, including Third-Team All-America selection Matt Adams and Honorable Mention All-America pick M.J. Parsons.
At La Roche, Pasquale led a complete rebirth for a Redhawks team that had won just 24 games in the five years prior to his arrival. In four years (2003-06) he led the program to 84 wins and three straight berths in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference playoffs. He was named the AMCC Coach of the Year in his second season, and his teams set school records for conference wins and overall wins.
Pasquale also served as the sports information director and a physical education instructor at La Roche.
During his first year at Pittsburgh in 2000, the Panthers went 31-24 and had two players drafted in the first 20 rounds. In his final year in 2002, two more players were drafted in the first 16 rounds, and the Panthers finished with a record of 36-16-1 and won what was then a school-record 14 Big East games.
Pasquale got his coaching start at Penn State Beaver in 1995 and stayed there until 1999. As an infield and hitting coach, PSU Beaver appeared in the NJCAA Division III World Series in 1997 and 1999, and the team was the Region 20 Champions four times in his five years. Pasquale served as the acting athletic director, director of intramural and recreation sports and facilities coordinator at PSU Beaver.
Pasquale has also worked camps as an infield and hitting instructor at Clemson and Slippery Rock.
Pasquale has vast experience as an administrator. He was an Assistant to the Athletic Director and Compliance Officer at Slippery Rock, and he was the Facilities Manager of Jack Critchfield Park for the Slippery Rock Sliders of the Frontier League.
Pasquale has also served as a scout for the Cleveland Indians since November 2005.
After playing at PSU Beaver for two seasons, Pasquale had a heralded playing career at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C. As a senior he batted .322 with 52 runs scored in 47 games to earn NAIA Honorable Mention All-America honors. He was also a unanimous selection to the NAIA All-District and an All-Area honoree covering seven states as a senior.
Pasquale earned a Bachelor of Science degree in sociology from Francis Marion in 1991 and his master's in health and physical education from Madison University in 2006.
Pasquale and his wife, Mindy, have three children - Dominic, Maura and Kara. He is the nephew of former Cleveland Indians first baseman Tito Francona and cousin of former Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies manager Terry Francona.