Dan Bertolini, a Youngstown native with a proven record of winning and recruiting talented players from the region, will enter his third season as head coach of the Youngstown State baseball program in 2018-19. He is the ninth head coach in Penguins history.
Bertolini came to Youngstown after spending eight seasons developing the program at Mercyhurst North East into a consistent winner at the national level as its head coach. The Saints averaged more than 29 wins over his eight seasons at the helm and won at least 30 games in four of the past five years. Bertolini was the winningest coach in school history.
In Bertolini’s second season, the Penguins surpassed their 2017 win totals with 18 overall wins and 10 league victories. The 18 total wins were the program’s most since 2010 and the Penguins swept a league opponent for the first time since 2012 when they won three straight over UIC in late March. With a first-round win over Oakland, YSU also notched its first Horizon League Tournament victory since it won the championship in 2014.
YSU had another impressive season on offense in Bertolini’s second year at the helm. The Penguins drew a Horizon League-best 272 walks, shattering the previous school record of 234 that was set in 2013. YSU recorded 86 stolen bases in 2018, which ranked second in the league and tied for the second most in a single season in school history. It marked the first time the Penguins stole at least 80 bases in a season since 1998.
The Penguins hit 44 home runs as a team in 2018, which ranked second in the league and as the third most in a single season in school history. It also marked the first time in school history they have hit at least 40 homers in back-to-back seasons; they hit 50 in 2017. As a pitching staff, the Penguins registered 399 strikeouts in 2018, which ranked as the fourth most in a single season in program history. The staff also received three Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors during the campaign.
YSU had seven players garner postseason Horizon League honors in 2018, matching the most in a season in school history. Trey Bridis was named First-Team All-Horizon League while Collin Floyd, Blaze Glenn and Jeff Wehler were each named Second-Team All-Horizon League. Wehler, Lucas Nasonti, Nick LaBrasca and Jakob Brustoski were voted to the All-Freshman Team. Bridis was also named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball and the Horizon League Co-Batter of the Week on May 14 after a week in which he batted .500 and hit four home runs.
The Penguins did some impressive work off the field in 2018 as well. Junior pitcher Joel Hake was named to the Horizon League All-Academic Team as part of another strong year in the classroom for the program. YSU posted a team GPA of 3.33 in the fall semester and a 3.22 in the spring. The team was also recognized for its outstanding work in the community by being named as the school's recipient of the Horizon League Team Community Outreach Award. It marked the first time the baseball program had ever earned the honor and was the first time a male sport won the award since 2007-08.
In his first year at Youngstown State, Bertolini injected a new energy into the program. With largely the same roster from the previous season along with some late additions over the summer, the Penguins won more games during the 2017 regular season than in five of the previous six years. Additionally, YSU tied for its most Horizon League wins since 2009.
Youngstown State earned a pair of road wins over ranked opponents during the season. The Penguins earned a 12-3 victory at No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26 in what was Bertolini's first victory at YSU. The Penguins then won 11-6 at No. 29 Kent State on April 4.
The Penguins' offense was notably improved in Bertolini's first campaign. Youngstown State averaged almost a full run more per game than in 2016 and averaged more runs per game than in five of the previous six seasons. YSU batted 31 points higher and hit an eye-popping 38 more home runs than in 2016. After the regular season, only three teams in the country had improved their home run total from 2016 more than Youngstown State. Defensively, YSU's .966 fielding percentage was its best in program history.
YSU had two players be named a national player of the week during the season. Andrew Kendrick was recognized nationally by several media outlets after he hit five home runs and posted 11 RBIs during the opening weekend. Lorenzo Arcuri was a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball on March 13 after he hit three home runs at Morehead State. Kendrick went on to smash the previous school record for home runs in a season with 17, which was five more than any other Penguin had hit in program history.
YSU also had four student-athletes – Web Charles, Kendrick, Nico Padovan and Anthony Rohan – earn Academic All-Horizon League honors. Youngstown State had not had at least four selections on the academic all-league team since 2010.
At Mercyhurst, Bertolini led the Saints to a pair of Region III titles in 2012 and 2014, and the team was ranked in the top 20 nationally every season from 2012-15. The Saints were ranked as high as No. 7 in 2014 as they went on to finish with a 31-10 record. Bertolini became the career wins leader at Mercyhurst North East as a 27-year-old in 2013, and he earned his 200th career win on April 26, 2015.
Mercyhurst North East was particularly strong on offense under Bertolini's tutelage. In 2016, the Saints registered a school-record .341 batting average, and they also set standards for hits (492), doubles (118), home runs (50), runs scored (492), RBIs (320), walks (177) and at bats (1,442). Mercyhurst North East's pitching staff also struck out a school record 293 batters. The Saints had set school records the year before for runs, RBIs, hits and doubles.
On the individual level, 55 Saints players earned All-Region honors in Bertolini's eight years at Mercyhurst North East. Bertolini also coached four Region III players of the year, two Region III pitchers of the year and a pair of National Junior College Athletic Association All-Americans.
Bertolini also had a record of emphasizing academics on his teams. Seven of his players at Mercyhurst North East earned NJCAA Academic All-America honors.
As a student-athlete, Bertolini was a four-year starter at Mercyhurst and set school records for games started, games played and consecutive games played from 2005-08. His senior year as a team captain, he was named Second-Team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and was a North Central Region Rawlings Gold Glove Winner at shortstop. Additionally, Bertolini was a three-time selection to the GLIAC All-Academic Team.
After his senior season he played professionally in the New York State League for the Westchester Federals and then in the Frontier League for the Midwest Sliders.
Bertolini is a 2004 graduate of Poland High School, and he got his start in coaching as an assistant for the Astro Falcons in the Youngstown Class B Summer League. He has also coached locally for the Ohio Glaciers. He graduated from Mercyhurst in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in art with an elementary education certification.
Bertolini and his wife Breanna, who was an All-American lacrosse player at Mercyhurst, have a daughter named Eloise and a son named Hawkins.