No upset this time as YSU falls in opener
The order was tall for the Youngstown State baseball team in its first NCAA regional game since 2004.
The problem for the Penguins was Indiana University’s batting order stood taller Friday night at Bart Kaufman Field.
The heart of the Hoosiers’ lineup combined to go 11-for-18 and drove in eight of their 10 runs as the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA College World Series cruised to a 10-2 victory in front of their home fans.
“This was a good getting-our-feet-wet type of experience for us,” Penguins coach Steve Gillispie said. “I am very disappointed we didn’t play a better brand of baseball that we had begun to show at the end of the year.”
In addition to the Hoosiers’ hot bats, Twinsburg native Scott Effross made his first start since high school on the mound and came out with overpowering stuff. The combination of the two showed why Indiana (43-13) was deserving of a national seed.
“I think it’s important, when you get to this point in the season, to stay in the winners bracket,” Hoosiers coach Tracy Smith said. “If we could have drawn it up before the game and how we wanted it to play out, I don’t think we would’ve written it any differently.”
The hits came early and often, as Penguins starter Jared Wight did his best to get out of trouble in the first inning. A fly ball that should have been the third out of the inning dropped between three Penguins in shallow right field, allowing Kyle Schwarber and Sam Travis to score and give the Hoosiers an early 2-0 lead.
The next batter, Brad Hartong, hit a sharp grounder down to third, which bounced off third baseman Matt Sullivan’s glove into foul territory. That brought a third run across the plate.
What could have been a clean opening inning for Wight and the Penguins turned into a three-run deficit.
“We had a freshman [right fielder] out there who hasn’t played a whole lot,” Penguins center fielder Kevin Hix said. “I think he was just playing a little too deep on that particular play and I couldn’t get there in time.
“We didn’t make that play, but it’s one we did make all year, which hurts.”
The Penguins (16-37) took advantage of a one-out walk to get a run back in the top of the second. Josh White’s fly ball fooled Hoosiers center fielder Tim O’Conner, who allowed it to drop over his head and roll to the wall. White slid into third on the play, but was stranded there to end the inning.
That, too, became a theme, as YSU left 11 runners on base.
“We had an issue with that during the course of the year where we did leave some people on base,” Gillispie said. “A base hit here or there and it might have been a little different.”
It took just two pitches in the top of the third for the Hoosiers to break things open. Schwarber led off with a triple to the right-center field gap. Travis drove the next pitch high over the left field wall for a two-run home run — his 11th of the season.
“We tried to throw in and [Wight] just threw it right in the middle of the plate,” Gillispie said. “Schwarber is definitely the wrong guy to throw the ball over the middle of the plate.
“Then we left a chest-high change up to Travis and that really kind of turned the game. That was were it was going to be really difficult for us.”
The next two Indiana batters reached on singles and Wight hit another to load the bases. After that, his night was done. The sophomore was charged with six runs on eight hits and lasted just 2 1/3 innings.
Josh White and Kevin Hix both had 2-for-4 nights at the plate for the Penguins.
“We kept fighting, we kept competing and that absolutely was a trademark of this club during the entire year,” Gillispie said. “It was obviously disappointing we didn’t pull it out.”
YSU plays Indiana State at 2 p.m. today in an elimination game after the Sycamores (35-17) lost to Stanford, 8-1, in Friday’s earlier game..