By Kyle Wills
The Youngstown State University baseball team continued its ice-cold start to its opening homestand at Eastwood Field this past week after being swept in a three-game series by Northern Kentucky University.
Following the 9-1 loss to the University of Pittsburgh on April 6, the men looked to get back on track April 8-10 against the Norse. However, they struggled offensively and were outscored 33-10 in the series.
In game one Youngstown State only mustered three hits in the 9-0 defeat. Seniors Padraig O’Shaughnessy and Lucas Nasonti, and junior Andre Good provided the only hits for the club.
The team’s woes carried over to pitching with Penguin arms allowing 11 hits and nine walks combined.
Northern Kentucky used two four-run innings in the seventh and ninth to power past the Penguins.
The next day, Northern Kentucky provided another offensive outburst, scoring six more runs than the previous night in the 15-3 loss.
After the Norse scored three in the top of the second inning, senior Dylan Swarmer came up with an RBI base hit to put the team on the board. The Penguins eventually tied the game after an RBI walk from Padraig O’Shaughnessy and an RBI fielder’s choice by Nasonti.
The Norse scored 12-straight runs to seal the second game of the series.
The men tried to salvage the series as they scored seven runs in game three, but ultimately were defeated 9-7.
The Penguins had an answer for almost every score, but the hot Norse offense was again too much to overcome.
Northern Kentucky scored a run in the top of the opening frame, but an RBI by junior infielder Braeden O’Shaughnessy and a steal of home by Nasonti in the bottom half gave Youngstown State its first lead of the series at 2-1.
The Norse reclaimed the lead with four in the fourth, but a three-run fifth inning tied the game at 5-5. In the bottom of the fifth, Swarmer and Braeden O’Shaughnessy both drove in runs with a double and an infield hit while a wild pitch helped plate a third run.
Throughout the final four frames, Northern Kentucky outscored Youngstown State 4-2 to complete the sweep.
Nasonti, Good and Braeden O’Shaughnessy all finished with multi-hit performances while Steven D’Eusanio, Swarmer and redshirt freshman Chase Franken each recorded a hit as well.
With 15 strikeouts offensively as a team, Nasonti said they knew their approach had to differ from the previous day.
“We knew we had to cut it down [the strikeouts]. We had to find ways to put the ball in play and that probably was the success you saw in today’s game,” Nasonti said. “It was a little better today, still not satisfied. Obviously we didn’t win today, but we’re moving in the right direction.”
Head coach Dan Bertolini said the first two games of the season didn’t feature the performances he wanted from the team, but he liked the way the team scratched and clawed.
“Friday and Saturday wasn’t really how we wanted to play the game. I liked the way we came back today and battled. I give a lot of credit to Northern Kentucky,” Bertolini said. “They played a good series this weekend. They pitched, they got hits when they needed to and they played the game really hard. I’m just happy with the way we battled today. It’s a sign of positivity moving into next week.”
With starting pitching only able to provide five innings of work through the first two games, junior Matt Brosky was able to give the team needed relief as he pitched his way into the sixth, going 5.1 innings. The Strongsville, Ohio, native was charged with five earned runs off nine hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
In need for a quality start from his starting pitcher, Bertolini said it was crucial to get that pitching performance from Brosky.
“It was big. Jon Snyder’s been battling a little bit with an arm issue and we wanted to get him out early. He wasn’t feeling great. Yesterday, [Northern Kentucky] had some good barrels off Travis [Perry]. Today was a quality start for Matt,” Bertolini said.
The baseball team looked to earn its first win of the season at Eastwood Field on April 12 against Niagara University. However, despite out-hitting the Purple Eagles, the Penguins came out on the wrong end of the 5-3 decision.
Braeden O’Shaughnessy and Nasonti provided eight of the team’s nine hits. O’Shaughnessy finished 4-for-5 at the dish including a two-run home run and RBI double while Nasonti finished a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and two runs scored.
However, three home runs from Niagara helped the Purple Eagles fly away with the victory.
Braeden O’Shaughnessy said he hasn’t seen the high heat he’s been looking for recently, but didn’t waste a swing when those pitches came against Niagara.
“High, in fastballs. I got a lot more today than I have in the past, so I took advantage of it and it worked well,” Braeden O’Shaughnessy said.
The baseball team continues its 10-game opening homestand when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee comes to town for a three-game Horizon League series April 14-16. Listen to the game on ysnlive.com