Errors, hit batsmen hurt YSU in Horizon opener
By joe scalzo
The Youngstown State baseball team piled up the hits on Friday afternoon. Problem was, some of them came off Milwaukee’s arms and legs.
The Penguins had 13 hits on offense but YSU pitchers beaned five Panthers and were hurt by three errors in a 5-4 loss to Milwaukee in the home — and Horizon League — opener at Eastwood Field.
“The guys played with energy and I’m very pleased with that but it’s an ‘L,’” said Penguins coach Rich Pasquale, whose team dropped to 1-14 overall. “But the series is still there and that’s the important thing.”
Catcher Craig Goubeaux went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, a stolen base and a run for the Penguins, whose lone win came on Sunday at VMI.
Goubeaux entered Friday with six hits in eight games.
“I’ve just been working on my swing the last week or so and I think I figured out that I was doing something wrong with my [stride] load,” said Goubeaux. “I was late on balls and now I think I’m on time and just hitting the ball well.”
When asked if he would sleep better Friday night, he laughed and said, “Yes, I will. I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to figure out I was trying to do.
“Hopefully I’ve got it figured out now.”
Third baseman Drew Dosch went 3-for-5 and David Leon added two hits and scored twice for YSU, which led 4-3 after three innings. Milwaukee scored the game-tying run in the fifth and got the game-winner in the seventh without benefit of a hit.
Paul Hoenecke reached on a two-base error, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a wild throw to first by Penguin shortstop Phil Lipari.
Goubeaux had a two-out single in the seventh but Milwaukee (5-10, 0-1) recorded the final seven outs in order.
YSU reliever Kevin McCulloh (0-1) gave up one run in three innings to get the loss, while Nic Manuppelli pitched a scoreless ninth with two strikeouts.
“We played really well; the only problem was the one inning where we had the two errors,” Goubeaux said. “That really hurt us.”
YSU went 14-41 last spring, setting a school record for most losses in season while recording the fewest wins since 1992, when the Penguins went 13-29.
This year is headed in the same direction and it’s no secret why. The Penguins’ ERA was above nine entering Friday’s game — it’s now at 8.77 — and they’ve given up 10 or more runs in 10 games.
But with the league season starting, the Penguins can focus on their Horizon slate rather than the slow start.
“The first few games are kind of a warm-up,” said Goubeaux. “The league is really what matters. As long as we do well in that, that’s all that matters.
“Today was a good start for us. We lost, but we still showed a lot of positives. Milwaukee’s a good team so this was a good showing for us.”
Hoenecke had two RBIs and scored twice in Friday’s game, which was pushed back two hours and 15 minutes due to wet playing conditions. Mark Strey added two RBIs and one of five Panther hits.
The teams will play again today and Sunday at Eastwood.
“The guys are playing hard,” Pasquale said. “You see it when we get an out and the guys are running hard through the bag or when we get a fly ball out [and they hustle]. The guys want it.
“They practice hard — we put them through great practices — and they’re prepared. They’re responding to that part. They want to win. We just need a couple breaks here and there.”
With almost three months left in the season, there’s plenty of time to turn it around, Pasquale said.
“They’ve got to keep their heads up,” he said. “We’re staying positive with them, and that’s the big plus.”