By Marc Weems
With Youngstown State University baseball under new management, first baseman Andrew Kendrick flourished. In that same timeframe, YSU beat the No. 17 ranked Georgia Tech on February 26. Kendrick helped YSU with three hits including a three-run home run.
“Our coaches kind of got us ready the entire month before,” Kendrick said. “We were getting at-bats off our own pitchers. It helped that we got live at-bats before we played any games. For me, it was just a matter of guys getting on base in front of me.”
Kendrick’s hitting has helped YSU secure two wins this season with many close losses.
“He [Kendrick] had a really good fall for us,” YSU head coach Dan Bertolini said. “We have had a change in philosophy in what we want to do. We are trying to get the ball in the air and lift the ball a little bit more. He had some really great at-bats. He’s the first guy in here and the last guy out.”
Bertolini also said that Kendrick worked really hard on his craft to get to the point he is at.
So far this season, YSU has struggled to just two wins through 13 games.
“We had an idea of his start. We didn’t think it would be that hot,” Bertolini said. “He’s been doing a great job for us all season. I think it was important for people to have improvement.
Lorenzo Arcuri had a good week last week. It’s nice to take pressure off other guys when someone is swinging a hot bat.”
Last season, Kendrick hit just four home runs in 50 games played. He also had just 20 runs batted in [RBI] with 34 walks. This season, he already has 16 RBI’s with five walks through 12 games.
“The new coaching staff has been awesome,” Kendrick said. “They changed our offensive mindset. The way we approach the plate has totally changed and our numbers have really showed that. The coaches always talk about staying even keel. In baseball, you will have ups and downs.”
Kendrick also said the team still keeps that aggressive mindset with anything it does.
“If someone is playing well, then somebody else will stay aggressive and put a ball in the gaps,” Kendrick said. “No matter what, we are staying aggressive and hitting the ball well. We’ve scored a lot of runs.”
YSU averages 5.1 runs per game but gives up 10.6 runs each game. Kendrick said no matter those numbers that the team needs to stay as aggressive as ever.
“You try not to tell him anything,” Bertolini said about Kendrick’s hot start. “We just kept reinforcing to have good at-bats. I told him he was having good at-bats. He wasn’t swinging at bad pitches. He had good takes but you try to stay away and let him do his thing.”
Bertolini also said sometimes leaving someone alone when they are hitting that well is the best thing for a person.
“Getting that first win under our belt was nice,” Kendrick said about beating Georgia Tech.
“That was coach’s first Division I win. In general, it was a big win over a big, nationally-ranked school. It proved that we are a pretty good team. That was a big confidence boost for the team.”
That win against Georgia Tech was in fact coach Bertolini’s first ever Division I win.
“The whole first week I was trying to hit a ball hard and try to get a win,” Kendrick said.
“Luckily some balls went over the fence and guys were on base. That made me look good. I just want to help the team win. If I do my part, the team benefits from that.”