In its first 24 hours in Bloomington, the Youngstown State baseball team was referred to by a variety of different names.
For the remainder of their stay, the Penguins will answer to Cinderella.
They were supposed to just be happy they were still playing when the calendar turned over to June. After a 12-win regular season, a remarkable run to win the Horizon League tournament, and an opening-game loss to the host — No. 4 national seed — Indiana Hoosiers, the Penguins played Saturday like they weren’t done yet.
After staving off elimination with a 5-2 win over the region’s second-seed, Indiana State, Cinderella has a date with Stanford at 1 p.m. today at Bart Kaufman Field.
They will ride with pitcher Ryan Krokos, who started the Horizon League championship game for the Penguins (17-37).
Krokos brings an 0-4 record into today’s game and has an earned run average of 8.25 in 36 innings pitched. The key for the junior right-hander versus the Cardinal will be lowering his opponent batting average, which is just two points under .400.
“He’s been the guy that’s kind of been that fourth starter, a little mid-week stuff here or there,” Penguins coach Steve Gillispie said. “I mean that’s the kind of guy who’s experienced in that starting role, and like I had said, we wanted to keep our bullpen intact.”
Stanford (31-24) will play in its first elimination game of the regional after falling to top-seeded Indiana, 4-2. After their loss, Cardinal coach Jack Klein was optimistic about his team’s ability to turn around for an early start this afternoon.
Klein was mum about his starting pitcher.
“We’ll have to go back and look at Youngstown State and how we match up against them,” Klein said.
YSU’s turnaround will be slightly easier since the Penguins played Saturday afternoon, although the challenge will be equal to what they faced in their opener on Friday.
“You’ve heard it all week from several of the teams that are here,” Gillispie said. “You have to be able to do what you do well and if [Stanford] can beat us at the things we do well, well, they’re probably going to win the game.
“And if we can take something away from them that they do well, and small victories here or there, that’s what we need to do.”