By Joe Catullo Jr.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Youngstown State had an opportunity to swing momentum against Valparaiso early in Friday’s Horizon League game.
It was only the bottom of the second inning, but it shaped how the other seven innings would turn out. With the Penguins trailing by a run, Marcus Heath struck out and Kevin Hix grounded into an inning-ending double play.
“If we can answer right back to their run, maybe it’s a little change in the momentum and maybe says something about the rest of the game,” YSU coach Steve Gillispie said.
After the possible momentum shifter, the Penguins gave the Crusaders added energy and runs the rest of the way in a 9-2 defeat at Eastwood Field.
YSU (9-24, 5-5) committed five errors and Valpo (12-19, 3-7) capitalized, including a four-run, three-error eighth inning.
“We work so hard on our defense,” the Penguins’ Mike Accardi said. “Seeing people not make plays is tough, but it happens. We’re human — everybody’s going to make a mistake once in a while and the thing is to pick someone up when that happens.”
Gillispie said the best way to learn from those mistakes is getting the same plays over and over again.
“You just got to keep playing, and you’ve got to keep being in those situations to where the confidence can get built up,” he said. “Against a team that pitches like they do, you have got to stay clean, and you’ve got to take outs when they are given to you. Anything that you give them offensively really puts you in a hole.”
YSU collected 12 hits. Accardi had three, including a two-run double in the seventh inning that cut the deficit to 5-2.
“It’s frustrating when you get that many hits and not being able to cash with runners in scoring position,” Accardi said. “We just didn’t get anything with runners on and two outs to spark anything.”
Nick Dinello also gathered three hits and has been nursing sore ribs since last weekend against Milwaukee.
Blake Aquadro started for YSU and picked up the loss. He pitched six and a third innings, allowed 11 hits, one walk, five runs (four earned) and struck out one. Cole Webb earned the victory, going six and two-third innings, allowing nine hits, three walks, two runs and striking out four.
“The guy made a couple of good pitches and maybe we didn’t have the best approach offensively,” Gillispie said. “We got away from what we normally do with guys in scoring position.”
YSU and Valpo will meet again at 1 p.m. today.
“When you’re not good for so long and you have opportunities now this year, you can see the team turn around, and we’re going to start winning series and start finishing out innings,” Accardi said.