By Andrew Peterson
Youngstown State University’s baseball team is gearing up to take on some bigger universities this season, such as Pennsylvania State University.
With a 4-15 record so far, their most recent series against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies ended with the Penguins only winning one game out of the 3-game series. The baseball team also has a record of 1-2 in the conference.
Dan Bertolini, head coach of the baseball team, said competing against schools such as The Ohio State University or Penn State — which have a bigger pool of players to recruit from — shouldn’t intimidate the Penguins.
“In this game, we all put our pants on the same way, and anybody can beat anybody on any given night,” Bertolini said. “We just stay in the mindset that we prepare the best we can and give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
Bertolini said playing against these programs is a win for the Penguins no matter the result.
“It’s a great opportunity for players and our university to go out and compete against the best. We want to play against the best so we can be the best to prepare ourselves for Horizon League play,” Bertolini said.
Sixth-year first baseman Padraig O’Shaughnessy said there’s an exciting feeling getting on the field to play against these teams.
“It’s awesome you get to see those big beautiful stadiums, they pretty much pack the stands every time — I mean it’s a great atmosphere, and it’s good to be able to say that you have been able to play at some of those places,” O’Shaughnessy said.
According to O’Shaughnessy, there are several advantages to playing against different conferences.
“A big benefit is that they kind of show you where your holes are, so that in the long run, it ends up helping when you get in the conference play, they’re definitely pretty good, so having to play those guys and see what we do need to work on helps a lot,” O’Shaughnessy said.
Braeden O’Shaughnessy, brother of Padraig and a senior infielder on the team, said playing bigger universities is a highlight of the season.
“Open up with a team like Wake Forest, then a couple of weekends after that you play Kansas State, Baylor,” Braeden O’Shaughnessy said. “Playing those big schools is what you dream of. That’s why you come here and play Division I baseball.”
Braeden O’Shaughnessy said these games also offer benefits for players to develop better skills to take forward in their careers.
“You’re going to most likely have a lot better pitching, so you have to be on time. You have to be short with your swings, so there’s definitely a benefit from the plate,” Braeden O’Shaughnessy said. “Sometimes it gets tough when it’s not going our way, but it definitely pays off.”
In his five years at Youngstown State, Steven D’Eusanio, who is an infielder for the team, has appeared in 154 games. D’Eusanio has spent most of his time playing first and third base.
As far as playing in big venues is concerned, D’Eusanio has played in a number of memorable moments.
“My freshman year when we went to Florida State and Mississippi State, and then my sophomore year opened up at the University of Houston and actually took a series from them,” he said. “That’s probably one of the most memorable moments in my baseball career.”
The team will travel to Pennsylvania to play Penn State on April 18.