Walking off … again
YSU baseball rallies past Oakland for 2nd straight last-inning win
NILES — It wasn’t the prettiest or most well-played game, but a win is a win.
When it came down to it, YSU once again relied on walk-off magic for the second day in a row, although senior Blaze Glenn wanted to make his team work before giving him a Gatorade bath.
Following a game-tying RBI triple off the bat of Dominick Bucko that scored Phillip Glasser, Glenn stepped into the box lining the ball back past the middle of the infield on a 2-2 count, scoring Bucko and making the score 4-3 for the Penguins’ fourth-straight victory.
As Glenn pointed toward the home dugout following his hit, he made a bolt toward second base, trying to avoid the mobbing coming toward him.
Too late. The senior third baseman found himself drenched thanks to fellow senior Nick Caruso, although Glenn kept rushing toward the right field wall as another container came rushing toward him.
“They can get some exercise in,” Glenn said with a laugh about taking his team for a trip. “We really pride ourselves on not striking out much, and just putting it in play because sooner or later, they’re going to fall.
“I mean, we had a bunch of hard hit balls in the beginning of the game, they just weren’t falling, then towards the end they finally started falling and we got some stuff done. That’s kinda how baseball is, stuff doesn’t go your way sometimes, but you just keep fighting through it and work through it, and eventually they’ll fall.”
The victory tied the program’s single season Horizon League wins record, now with a conference mark of 16-11, and a home record of 12-2.
Starter Jon Snyder gave YSU 4 2/3 innings, fanning six hitters, along with working out of some bases loaded trouble during the top of the second. Glenn and Turner Grau each earned an RBI by walking with the bases loaded on back-to-back at-bats to knot the contest at 2-2 following the seventh inning.
After Oakland scored a run on a throwing error during the top of the ninth, YSU went to work, as Phillip Glasser drew a lead-off walk, forcing Oakland to bring in sidearm righty Hayden Nierman, someone who the Penguins saw well Friday evening by the tune of seven hits.
Bucko re-introduced himself to the sidewinder belting his triple through the right-center gap and toward the wall, his arms held high and his helmet half-covering his eyes after sliding into third base.
“The kid (Nierman) was good, I thought he was one of their best pitchers, but it’s just the same approach,” Bucko said. “When a new guy comes in, you got to expect fastball, because he wants to start off the at-bat with a fastball, every pitcher wants to get 0-1.
“I was thinking that, and I just sitting fastball and my pitch came and I drilled it.”
With no-one out, it would have been a bunt-situation for a lot of teams, but Bucko, now averaging .302, had the confidence of coach Dan Bertolini who told him to just go up and hit.
“I liked the matchup,” Bertolini said. “(Nierman) is tough on right-handers, he’s got some sink and he’s coming into this weekend with a two and a half ERA. One of their better guys, we liked the lefty-righty matchup better than bunting and trying to get to Blaze (Glenn), it’s tougher.
“So, I told him to just go-ahead and take a swing and I knew he’d (Bucko) been on the ball all-day, he just missed a couple barrels and finally didn’t miss that one.”
Senior closer Gary Clift Jr. (2-2) earned the win after coming into the top of the ninth, junior Travis Perry also gave YSU a pair of solid innings during the seventh and eighth.
Senior Lucas Nasonti (Champion) recorded the Penguins’ only multi-hit performance, going 2-4 with a pair of singles, Glasser crossed home plate twice during the victory.
YSU (21-17, 16-11) has now won four in a row, and looks to sweep Oakland (9-21, 3-16) this afternoon with a 1 p.m. first pitch.
“You just got to approach it like we’re 0-0, looking at 1-0,” Bertolini said. “I think Sundays we’ve been exceptionally good all season for whatever reason, I know that Nicholls State gave us a good start, but anytime you get into the fourth starter and you get into that bullpen on Sunday, I think our offense favors us with the way we’ve been swinging the bat.
“I know it’ll be a challenge, they’re (Oakland) not going away, they’re right there on the cusp. They’ve got a good group, we were there in a similar situation a couple years ago where you haven’t found that way to win yet, but they’re doing a good job.”