By John Ostapowicz
The Youngstown State University men’s baseball team started off its season opener by dropping a 3-1 decision against Bethune-Cookman University. The Penguins headed to the Jackie Robinson Ballpark to play in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Friday, Feb. 18.
The team was unable to get many runners across home plate as the only score came from redshirt senior Padraig O’Shaughnessy. He was the highlight of the game, hitting a solo home run in the top of the ninth inning to get the Penguins on the board.
Padraig O’Shaughnessy is not a stranger to being a star player — last season, he was named to the Horizon League All-Academic Team, batted .268, slugged .409 with three doubles, five home runs and drove in 25 RBIs in 47 games.
Three other players were also able to record a hit in the contest: senior Lucas Nasonti, senior Austin Earl and sophomore Seth Lucero.
Following the win on Saturday, head coach Dan Bertolini was excited about the first win of the season. He looks forward to what the team can do in the next coming week.
“It’s always tough to get that first one but I was proud of the guys as they were down five early,” Bertolini said
On Saturday, Feb. 19, the Penguins went to work as they overcame an early five-run deficit. The Penguins stormed back to beat Bethune-Cookman 7-6 as the team rallied together for the win.
Standout players Nick Perez, Casey Marshalwitz and Nathan Ball combined to allow one run and nine strikeouts over seven innings. This relief from the Penguins’ pitchers was enough to aid the team in its comeback.
Perez was unstoppable as a freshman in 2021 as he was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman team. His 11 starts were the most by any Penguin since Collin Floyd in 2016. He finished with an 8.54 EPA over 52.2 innings pitched and struck out 36 batters while walking 30.
Youngstown State was able to outhit Bethune-Cookman 11-9. They capitalized on the six errors committed by the team. Nasonti and senior Steven D’Eusanio lead the charge, each having two hits in the contest.
Three other Penguins also recorded a hit and a run: senior Dominick Bucko, junior Braeden O’Shaughnessy and redshirt sophomore Trey Law. On the pitching side, Penguins starter senior Travis Perry allowed five runs on four hits and had five strikeouts in two innings.
On Sunday, Feb. 20, the men’s baseball team hit the field to play its last game against Bethune-Cookman. The Penguins had a stellar six-run fifth inning to help them hold off the Wildcats 10-9.
In the contest, junior Matt Brosky was the difference-maker as he struck out a career-high nine batters with one walk and allowed one earned run over a career-high six innings pitched. In his first collegiate start, he recorded a strikeout in five of six innings.
Brosky had to sit out his 2020 season in order to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements. However, in his 2021 season, he made eight appearances coming out of the bullpen. With a 10.12 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched, he struck out 10 batters while walking seven and held opponents to a .370 average.
Youngstown State improves to 2-1 on the season for the second time in the last three seasons. In the 2021 season, the team went 32-24 overall and had a team batting average of .298.
Bertolini is optimistic about the rest of the season. The team has new players and worked on new gameplans in the offseason. The men are striving to be better than they were last year due to new additions to the program.
“That’s part of the recruiting process — we want guys who are tough and can compete, and that’s who this team is coming into the season,” Bertolini said.
The Penguins schedule does not get easier as the team goes against Belmont University Feb. 25-27. A double-header is scheduled for 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 26