Bertolini embracing YSU coaching mission
By Greg Gulas
The Youngstown State baseball team has had just one winning season over the past 21 years. The last time the Penguins posted back-to-back winning campaigns was in 1994-95.
Those challenges made the head coaching position that much more attractive for first-year head coach Dan Bertolini.
Addressing the Curbstone Coaches at Avion Banquet Center during Monday’s weekly luncheon, the Poland native is hoping that the success he enjoyed at Mercyhurst North East will carry over to his new job. The Saints are a two-year branch campus of Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa.
The Penguins job is his first Division I coaching assignment.
“Being from the area, I know what I am getting in to and while it might look like a challenge to some, it’s a challenge that I am looking forward to and readily accept,” Bertolini said.
“The YSU baseball program had a rich, winning tradition starting first with former head coach Dom Rosselli and it’s a tradition that was built by some of the area’s top diamond players,” he said.
Bertolini is a 2004 Poland High School graduate and 2008 Mercyhurst University alum. He earned a BA in elementary education then played professionally for a season with the Frontier League’s Midwest Sliders.
He became an assistant coach at Mercyhurst North East in 2009. That same season, he was elevated to Saints’ head coach.
During his eight-year tenure with the Saints, Bertolini won 236 games, leading the team to a pair of Region III titles. From 2012-15, his team was ranked in the NJCAA Division II top-20 nationally.
His teams averaged 29 wins over eight seasons with 30 wins in four of his past five seasons.
Recruiting and changing the culture are two areas on which he and his staff are focused.
“We recruited differently during my time at North East in that those with ACT problems and classroom struggles came to us, played for two years and then looked to move on,” Bertolini said. “We’re looking for a different type of student-athlete now and have made local recruiting a top priority.
“We’ve already signed 13 players for our 2018 class and seven are from Ohio, five from Western Pennsylvania and another from Florida.”
Bertolini said he likes what he has inherited roster-wise and the fact that some players still remain from the Penguins’ 2014 Horizon League title unit.
Anthony Santoro is set as catcher and will be pushed for playing time by Boardman’s Lou Cardona and Tanner Montgomery.
Andrew Kendrick is expected to start at first base while Web Charles and Alex Larivee hold down second base.
Shortstop Shane Willoughby and third baseman Nico Padovan are mainstays on the left side of the infield.
Centerfielder Lorenzo Arcuri makes the team strong up the middle while Ursuline High’s Anthony Rohan will be in a battle with Alex Core and Tyler Zaluski in left field.
Alex Benyo of Austintown Fitch and Trey Bridis are right-field hopefuls.
Bertolini will look to Joe King, Collin Floyd, Brookfield’s Jeremy Quinlan, Ursuline alum Joel Hake and Javier Alvarez as starters on the mound.
Hake, Sharpsville High School’s Kevin Yarabinec, Jess Slinger, Cardinal Mooney’s Gino DiVincenzo and Ursuline’s Dion Felger will comprise the bullpen.
“This is a team that excites me and a squad that has come a long way since fall practice,” Bertolini said. “We’re cautiously optimistic as we look to continue making great strides this season.”
Next week, YSU cross country-track and field head coach Brian Gorby will be the guest speaker.