The Penguins will try to bounce back against Wisconsin-Milwaukee today in a twin-bill at Cafaro Field.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
NILES -- The Youngstown State University baseball team made a gallant comeback effort Friday, but fell short in a 7-6 loss to the University of Milwaukee-Milwaukee in a Horizon League contest at Cafaro Field.
In the sixth inning, the Penguins trailed 7-0 to the Panthers, who are in first place in the conference standings. Then, YSU rallied for five runs in the bottom of the sixth to get back into the game.
The loss drops the Penguins to 10-7 in the conference, and keeps them in third place behind the Panthers (13-4) and Illinois Chicago (10-4). YSU is 16-22 on the season while Milwaukee improved to 28-14.
The two teams will square off in a doubleheader today at noon at Cafaro.
Once again, the Penguins made too many mistakes early and got themselves into the big hole.
"This is a young team and we can't afford to make those kind of mistakes," YSU head coach Mike Florak said. "These kids are gutsy and they'll always keep coming back at you."
YSU starting pitcher, and loser, Jonathon Smart got himself into some jams early with his control. The junior right-hander pitcher issued five walks, hit two batters and committed an error in his six innings of action.
Sophomore reliever Paul Yates came on in the seventh, when Smart had to leave the game before the inning began with a strained muscle in his right forearm.
Yates shut out the Panthers over the final three innings and allowed only one hit while striking out four.
"Paul pitched great tonight," Florak said. "He's been pitching very well for us lately."
The Penguins out-hit the Panthers 9-8, with freshmen Jim Phillips and Adam Cox, along with sophomore Jim Lipinski, all getting two hits. Lipinski and Phillips each had a double.
UW-Milwaukee took the lead in the second inning with the help of two YSU errors, a hit batter and a single by Dave Pudlosky for a 2-0 lead.
In the third, the Panthers made it 6-0 as Pudlosky cracked a three-run home run over the right field fence and Steve Gruden singled in the fourth run.
After the Panthers went up 7-0 in the sixth inning, the Penguins came to life.
YSU had just three hits through the first five innings, two of them by Phillips.
In the sixth, Kendall Schlabach led off with a walk and after Ty Furino struck out, the Penguins came up with four straight singles by Tim Stacey, Lipinski, Clint Ford and Cox to plate four runs .
The final tally came when Phillips hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop that went right through the legs of Troy Doering.
The Penguins added a sixth run in the seventh inning when Schlabach led off with an infield single, moved to second on a groundout and scored when Lipinski hit a ground-rule double to right field.
Matt Freisleben, UW-Milwaukee's fourth pitcher of the game, came on in the seventh and got the Panthers out of the inning. He retired the side in order in both the eighth and ninth innings.
"Milwaukee is a good baseball team, but so are we," Florak said. "We'll be back here tomorrow ready to go again, and hopefully things will turn out differently."