Youngstown State throttles Oakland in home opener at Eastwood Field, 18-3
NILES — After spending a month on the road, Youngstown State’s homecoming couldn’t have played out better.
Snow blanketed Eastwood Field earlier in the week, but YSU froze out the Oakland Golden Grizzlies, 18-3 during its conference opener Thursday evening.
Following the contest, YSU (4-13, 1-0) coach Dan Bertolini couldn’t have been more ecstatic following a 21-hit outburst. Of course, having a quality start out of Travis Perry took the pressure off the hitters.
“(Travis) has been awesome all year,” said Bertolini. “All year he’s given us a good opportunity. Tonight it just kinda all came together, we played some good defense and he was electric early. We only gave up five hits tonight and we hardly put any free guys on base, so that was really a point of emphasis.
“We had to eliminate free bases, this game we did that.”
Perry tossed 6.2 innings and recorded six punchouts while only allowing three hits. One of the consistent arms in the Penguins rotation, he felt Thursday night was perhaps his best showing.
“I was able to command the fastball early, commanding the fastball has been a big issue as a staff, and I felt like we did a really good job today,” said Perry. “Just throwing strikes and getting guys out. Not so much with getting strikeouts, but getting themselves out was key for us today.
“I had all the confidence in the world (the offense) has been doing it all season. They’re putting up 21 hits today, but all season long, we’re putting up double digits hits every game, and it’s so good for us to feel good on the mound and just giving us confidence to just throw strikes and they have our backs, and we’ll have their backs.”
Steven D’Eusanio recorded a sacrifice fly during the bottom of the first to allow a 1-0 YSU lead, but the Penguins tacked on three more in the second. Up 6-1 by the bottom of the seventh, Braeden O’Shaughnessy ripped a deep shot to left field, knocking the first grand slam of his Penguins career.
“I was looking for that pitch and I missed it early in the at-bat, so I was looking right there and I hit it pretty well,” said O’Shaughnessy. “I feel like our preparation is awesome and we just feed off of each other. One after one after one, it just keeps going. The whole lineup feeds off of it, and there’s not an easy out in the whole lineup.
“Get a couple early for (Perry) and he’s cruising, when he’s putting up zero after zero after zero, it’s pretty easy for the offense to get going and find gaps.”
YSU tacked on another eight runs during the bottom of the eighth, capped off by four RBIs from Andre Good, who tallied two off a homer to right field, then another two later in the inning from a double.
Turner Grau went 4-for-5 at the plate to record three RBIs, including a triple. O’Shaughnessy added three hits along with 6 RBI, Good tallied four RBI on three hits. D’Eusanio finished his evening 3-for-5 with a pair of RBI.
It’s always a new campaign when conference play begins, especially after spending the first four weeks all on the road with trips to Baylor, Kansas State, and Wake Forest.
“You can feel the energy level is way different today at the ballpark. It’s tough, the travel just wears on you, for us to get home and get re-energized and rejuvenated,” said Bertolini. “You just have to stay with the same approach. I thought we had some great takes even when the game was out of hand a little bit. Our guys didn’t fold, didn’t chase, we stayed disciplined and that’s what we have to do the rest of the way, all year long now.”
YSU will continue their series versus Oakland (5-10, 0-1) this afternoon with a doubleheader starting at 3 pm.
Perry is relieved to just be back at Eastwood.
“We’re never really here this early in the season, it feels nice,” said Perry. “We normally spend six or seven weeks on the road, so to get to Eastwood this early in the season is amazing.”