By Steve Wilaj
Youngstown State didn’t have a problem putting runners on base against UIC. But it ran into trouble getting them home.
Leaving 10 runners on base, the Penguins fell to the Flames, 5-4, in Sunday’s series finale at Eastwood Field.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score, but just didn’t,” said first baseman Marcus Heath. “We had the right guys at the plate that usually come through.”
UIC (19-17, 8-7 Horizon League) struck first, taking a 2-0 lead on Tyler Detmer’s two-run double in the top of the third.
The Penguins (12-28, 7-8 HL) answered in the bottom half when an RBI single by Mike Accardi made it 2-1.
However, YSU had the bases loaded with no outs and couldn’t capitalize. Jason Shirley flied out to short left, Drew Dosch struck out and Josh White grounded out.
“We didn’t adjust very well in the early innings and take advantage of those opportunities,” head coach Steve Gillispie said. “When you have a chance to put teams away, you need to do it.”
YSU jumped ahead 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth after loading the bases with no outs once again. Shirley walked to tie the game at two. White then followed a Dosch pop-out with sacrifice fly to give the Penguins the lead. Still, an inning-ending strikeout of Phil Lipari left runners on second and third base.
“You’re a little more excited and maybe more jumpy,” Heath said of hitting with runners on base. “We just have to be a little more patient at the plate and take what they give us.”
UIC regained the lead for good in the top of the sixth. Allowing a single to Alex De LaRosa and beaming Joe Betcher to begin the inning, YSU starter Lance Horner exited after five innings pitched.
Jared White relieved and immediately allowed the tying run to score on an errant throw to first base. A sacrifice bunt by Ryan Shober brought home the go-ahead run. That closed the book on Horner (0-2), who allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks.
“It was an average outing,” Gillispe said. “He had a leadoff batter on in each of the first three innings and it wasn’t as good as he’s been in the past.”
UIC added an insurance run in the ninth on a Detmer RBI single off Nic Manupelli. Detmer paced the Flames with two hits and three RBIs.
Ian Lewandowski (4-2, 1.96 ERA) threw 137 pitches in 8 1/3 innings for the victory. He allowed seven hits and seven walks.
“You have to tip your hat to their guy,” Gillispie said. “That’s an incredible performance to pitch out of that much trouble.”
YSU threatened late, putting runners on base in each of the final three innings. It came up empty in the seventh and eighth, but scored one in the ninth on a Dosch RBI single.
The rally was halted when Dosch was caught stealing with one out. Dosch and Heath each had two hits for the Penguins.
“It wasn’t a great offensive day for us, but we were right there in the end and brought the tying run to the plate,” Gillispie said. “So still some positives to hang our hat on today.”