Youngs- town State junior pitcher Casey Crozier turned in a dominating performance in the circle for the second consecutive day Thursday as the Penguins’ surprising Horizon League Championship run continued.
Crozier threw a five-hit shutout and struck out six as YSU defeated Loyola, 2-0, and advanced to the winner’s bracket final. The sixth-seeded Penguins, who improve to 18-25 overall, will face fifth-seeded Wright State, at 3:30 p.m. today at Flames Field at Illinois-Chicago. YSU beat Valparaiso, 9-1, on Wednesday.
Crozier, who walked just two, retired nine out of 10 batters between the second and fourth innings and the only batter that reached was on her fielding error. She retired six straight in the second and third innings, committed the error and followed up with two strikeouts and a popout.
Back-to-back two-out doubles by juniors Samantha Snodgrass and Courtney Ewing, who went 2 for 3, put the Penguins up 1-0 in the top of the third.
The Penguins added an insurance run in the top of the sixth when freshman Kelly Stowe’s ground out to second scored freshman Miranda Castiglione for the 2-0 lead. Castiglione led off the frame with a single to right field and advanced to third on senior Sarah Gabel’s sacrifice bunt and a Loyola error.
After a leadoff walk to Jessica Balzano in the bottom of the sixth, senior Caroline Krombach gunned down Balzano at third trying to advance on Lauren Zaworski’s one-out bloop single down the right-field line. Crozier then struck out Brie Pasquale looking to end the frame.
In the bottom of the seventh, Crozier induced a ground out and a strikeout before an infield single brought the tying run to the plate. A fly ball to Gabel in left field ended the Ramblers’ come-back attempt.
Crozier picked up her 15th victory of the season and is just the third pitcher in school history to record at least 15 wins in a year.