Next: YSU vs. Penn State Behrend, Wednesday, 3 p.m., at Eastwood Field.
By Jon Moffett
Phil Klein pumped his fist and roared in triumph after striking out his 13th batter to end the eighth inning.
The 6-foot-7 senior pitcher had a masterful outing Sunday in Youngstown State’s 7-1 victory over Toledo.
The win gave the Penguins a 2-0 sweep over the Rockets, and a 2-2 split during its weekend at the Panther Classic hosted by the University of Pittsburgh.
Klein gave the Penguins (3-14) eight solid innings on the mound. He gave up only one earned run and scattered three hits on 118 pitches. He walked only one batter and toyed with a no-hitter until the sixth inning.
“I was feeling good; everything was feeling good. I was able to keep the ball down like I wanted to,” Klein said. “I just wanted to keep riding it as long as I could until [coach Rich Pasquale] made his final decision to bring me out.”
Klein made the decision a tough one. He had a perfect-game bid through 41/3 innings. But right fielder David Saluga lost a routine ball in the sun and it bounced off his glove to the Charles L. Cost Field’s artificial turf. Klein’s only walk came in the next at bat.
Pasquale said it makes his job a lot easier when the arm on the hill makes it difficult on the opponent.
“It was incredible,” Pasquale said of his ace’s performance. “Just for maybe a few innings of a couple of crooked numbers here and there this year, he’s been doing this. Early on, we just didn’t give him the run support.”
Thanks to a couple of mistakes by the Rockets (5-13) the Penguins were able to get on the board early.
Third baseman Drew Dosch reached on a fielding error by Toledo’s Dan Sherwood. He advanced to second after another fielding error with Jeremy Banks at the plate. A sacrifice fly by Jonathan Crist brought Dosch around.
That was all Klein needed. But the Penguins added three more runs in the third, one in the seventh and a pair in the eighth to pad Klein’s lead.
“It’s a blast to sit there and yell for them as they’re coming around the bases,” Klein said. “You tell them to get down and slide and stuff like that and it’s fun. It’s a blast. And that’s what baseball should be; that’s why it’s fun right there.”
Crist and Boardman High graduate Joe Iacobucci each had a pair of RBIs. Iacobucci, who went 3-for-3, also scored a pair of runs and had a triple over the center fielder’s head.
Known more for his power than his speed, Iacobucci said he was a little winded as he stood on third base.
“It was killing me as I rounded second base. I was just hoping I that I didn’t have to go the whole way,” he said. “I was running out of gas. It would have been tough trying to make it home.”
Fortunately, Iacobucci was able to stay put at third base until teammate Armani Johnson brought him home with a sacrifice fly.