Dunham, YSU baseball team rounding into shape


By Brian Dzenis

bdzenis@vindy.com

NILES

Greg Dunham is in a groove and so is Youngstown State’s baseball team.

The South Range right-hander has won in back-to-back starts after picking up the W on Friday in a 3-1 victory against Illinois-Chicago.

YSU (6-17) has won four of its last five contests. Two of those victories have come with Dunham on the mound.

“We’re definitely getting more comfortable with each other and we’re just playing baseball like we all know how to,” Dunham said. “We executed some small ball and got the runs across when we needed to.”

Neither Dunham nor YSU — under previous head coach Steve Gillispie — had much interest in each other two years ago when he was a Quaker and ended up committing to Buffalo. Then Buffalo dropped baseball, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving and women’s rowing to save $2 million in its athletic budget, according to The Buffalo News. Dunham was on the move after his freshman season.

“I thought it was a good fit with the facilities and the coaches. I knew a couple kids that were coming here and I thought it was best to come home,” Dunham said. “I never talked to YSU when I was in high school. I talked to [coach Dan Bertolini] after Buffalo and I was happy to come here.”

Dunham went seven innings on Friday, giving up a run on six hits and a walk while striking out six. That lone run was a bit of bad luck.

Dunham (3-3) gave up two singles to UIC’s Riley Herbert and Aaron Ackerman to open the fourth inning. YSU’s Nick Massey made two errors in right field — a fielding error and then throwing error in one play — to advance the runners to second and third. Ackerman scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game at 1.

“I knew our hitters would get some more runs, they always do,” Dunham said.

Sophomore shortstop Cody Dennis had a hand in two of the Penguins three runs. He singled home Drew Dickerson in the bottom of the second inning and two innings later, scored on Massey’s sacrifice fly to put the Penguins ahead. He was 2 for 3 with a double.

“Our coaches drilled into our heads that they were going inside with the sinker. I feel like as a unit, we had that approach on lock,” Dennis said. “With the good pitching staff UIC has and us getting nine hits off of them, that’s what we were looking for.”

UIC starter Ryan Campbell (3-2) came into Friday’s game with just six walks in five starts. He nearly matched that with five free passes while conceding three runs on seven hits in five innings.

“We’ve been a disciplined team all year. We’ve drawn a lot of walks. Our guys were focused on staying in the strike zone and not chasing balls,” Bertolini said. “[Campbell] is a good pitcher and we were really able to execute our game plan today and hit balls in the strike zone and move around a little bit.”

YSU got its third run in the seventh. The Penguins loaded the bases with one out before Blaze Glenn scored after Flames relief pitcher Wyatt Trautwein bounced the ball off home plate.

The Penguins played just one game Friday due to inclement weather. The team will finish its three-game series today with a doubleheader.

“We did a tarp-pull earlier in the morning and I’m not exaggerating when I say you could swim in our outfield,” Dennis said . “But you know what? If we played late, we might have played two.”

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