By Preston Byers
With two extra-inning victories against the University of Houston, the Youngstown State University baseball team has a winning record for the first time in nearly a decade.
After falling to the Cougars in the season opener Feb. 14, YSU found its first victory the next evening in large part due to a three-run home run in the top of the 11th inning by sophomore Steven D’Eusanio. Freshman infielder Andre Good hit two home runs in the third game en route to an 8-6 win.
The last time the Penguins had a winning record was March 13, 2010, when YSU defeated Walsh University to improve to 6-5 on the season. This is also the first time YSU has started the season 2-1 since 2001.
Penguins coach Dan Bertolini said despite the lack of field time in Youngstown, he and his team fully expected to depart from Houston victorious.
“Anytime we go anywhere, we expect to win, and I think that was the mentality of our guys,” he said. “We have a talented group, and we expect to play good baseball and win baseball games.”
Before Houston, the Penguins under Bertolini, who is in his fourth season as head coach, had a combined 1-8 record in season-opening series.
In the first game of the series, Houston jumped ahead with a two-run lead in the first inning after three hits off YSU’s junior starting pitcher Colin Clark.
Clark allowed one hit in the next four innings as the Penguins erased the Cougars’ lead and took one of their own.
Houston’s bats warmed up in the sixth inning, however, and after a two-run sixth inning and a three-run seventh, the Cougars secured the 7-3 win for their first victory of the season.
In games 2 and 3, YSU fell behind again in the early innings. Unlike the season opener, though, the Penguins mounted successful comebacks.
D’Eusanio led the way at the plate Feb. 15, recording three hits and a game-high five RBIs. The following day, a pair of freshmen, Good and Braeden O’Shaughnessy, combined for seven of YSU’s eight RBIs.
On the mound, Clark was credited with the loss Feb. 14, while redshirt senior Gary Clift Jr. and junior Dalton Earich earned wins during the 11- and 10-inning duels, respectively.
Junior pitcher Collin Floyd, who started for YSU’s 6-3 victory Feb. 15, was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week after a seven-inning, two-run performance.
The team is battling some minor injuries and illnesses after the first series, according to Bertolini.
“We’re a little bit banged up,” he said. “We got some sickness going around. We got a couple guys with some minor injuries — nothing serious that’s going to hold them out. But that’s going to be all year. That’s baseball.”
The Penguins will head to South Carolina, where they will face the College of Charleston in a three-game weekend series Feb. 21-23.