Wright’s State’s Hoelzel pitches win against Youngstown State
By steve wilaj
Wright State’s Joey Hoelzel and Youngstown State’s Patrick O’Brien turned back the clock a few years for Saturday’s game at Eastwood Field.
Hoelzel, a 2010 Canfield graduate, and O’Brien, a 2009 Boardman graduate, did what they had done their entire lives to reach the point of being two of the Horizon League’s top starting pitchers: pitch effectively and impressively in the Youngstown area.
O’Brien went all nine innings for the Penguins, but was ousted by his former Ohio Glaciers teammate as the Raiders defeated the Penguins, 6-3, behind eight strong innings from Hoelzel.
“We played travel ball together my junior year and we were pretty good friends for that,” Hoelzel said. “So it was pretty cool going up against Pat today.”
The former Cardinal blanked the Penguins (13-34, 7-10 Horizon League) for seven of his eight innings of work.
Throwing 112 pitches, Hoelzel (4-3, 4.45 ERA) allowed three runs on four hits in earning the victory. He struck out five and walked two.
“I started off well, just hitting spots and not trying to do too much,” Hoelzel said. “I let my defense work a little bit. They played great behind me today. I settled in after that little rough inning and it was all history after that.”
O’Brien wasn’t surprised at what he saw from his former teammate.
“He’s a good pitcher,” O’Brien said. “He did a great job today of matching up with us and getting the W.”
Throwing 123 pitches, O’Brien wasn’t quite as efficient as Hoelzel. But unlike his counterpart, the Penguins’ defense committed three errors.
A substantial YSU error came in the top of the fifth with one out and the bases loaded. Tied at 3, O’Brien forced WSU’s Mark Fowler into a routine double-play groundball. While the Penguins got the out at second, Neil Schroth’s throw to first sailed past Kevin Hix and allowed two Raiders runners to score for a 5-3 advantage.
“Any time you give them extra outs in an inning, it hurts,” YSU coach Steve Gillispie said. “But especially right there — if we turn it, we end the inning. Instead it gave them a little breathing room.”
That proved to be the deciding blow to O’Brien’s (3-5, 4.48 ERA) outing. He allowed five earned runs on 11 hits in nine innings while taking the loss.
“I was just competing out there and getting after it,” O’Brien said. “I was hitting my spots for the most part. My changeup was getting hit early so I made an adjustment with the slider and it went well after that.”
Garret Gray led the Raiders (20-22, 8-9) at the plate, going two for four with an RBI and two runs scored. Four WSU players recorded two hits apiece.
Gillispie credited O’Brien for minimizing the damage on a day where he, “wasn’t as sharp as he’s been in the past.”
But he also credited Hoelzel for his dominance.
“As a defense, you have to be clean when you’re facing the kind of guy that Wright State threw today,” Gillispie said. “He was very good and scoring opportunities were few.”
Hoelzel and O’Brien expressed their appreciation of pitching in familiar surroundings. However, Hoelzel revealed what makes the experience more enjoyable.
“It’s great with the family and friends coming out to watch you,” he said. “And it’s even better when you win.”