YSU makes history at home
NILES — The last time Youngstown State recorded 18 victories at home, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford were still gracing the silver screen during Star Wars’ initial run during the Spring of 1977.
YSU basketball coaching legend Dom Rosselli was also patrolling the sideline within the Beeghly Center, along with the dugout at Pemberton Park, at the helm of both programs at the same time during Youngstown State’s Division II-era.
Saturday afternoon, the present day Penguins matched the program record home win record with a 9-4 seven-inning win over Milwaukee to kick-off the first game of the doubleheader, before falling 14-12 during the second half of Saturday’s twinbill in a near-comeback attempt.
If anything, it’s a reflection of fifth or sixth year players like Collin Floyd, Gary Glift Jr., Nick Caruso, and Joel Hake.
“They’ve sacrificed a lot, we’ve been through a lot together, and it means a lot,” said YSU coach Dan Bertolini. “It’s special because those guys could have moved on and been into professional careers, they’ve got multiple degrees, they’ve taken advantage of every opportunity, they’ve had here.”
Lucas Nasonti, a Champion graduate, was one of two Penguins to tally a pair of RBIs during the record tying win and discussed the importance of defending the home turf, especially during an unusual season where four-game weekend series have become the norm with midweek contests eliminated.
“I’ve been here for some bad times, so just to be winning, and winning in front of our home fans, it means the world to us, and all of the older guys that have been here,” Nasonti said. “It kinda taught us to stick together. We’re a close group of guys right now because we’ve been through the ringer, and it feels go to be able to win, and win with those guys too.”
With a 1-1 tie during the bottom of the third, YSU placed four on the right-center scoreboard, with a Dominick Bucko double scoring Phillip Glasser and Jeff Wehler to break the tie, and Turner Grau and Padraig O’Shaughnessy (Poland) also recording RBI hits during the third.
Prior to first pitch, players could be seen donning grey “Welcome to the Beastwood” shirts during batting-practice, an idea and moniker created by assistant coach Eric Bunnell earlier in the season, with YSU currently owning an 18-4 record at Eastwood Field this season.
“Coming in here for an away team is hard, you got the infield that’s crappy sometimes, you got an outfield that you’re not used to, there’s just a big, different backdrop,” said Bucko. “There’s all kinds of things that are an advantage to us, so we take advantage of that and just put the ball in play.”
“Running out and hustling, and good things happen.”
Meanwhile, Jon Synder (6-2) did an effective job of limiting the Panthers to only a single run through five innings despite allowing six walks and three hits, another four run spot during the bottom of the fifth, highlighted by Nasonti’s two-run double plating Nick Caruso along with Steven D’Eusanio.
During the nightcap, YSU (31-22, 23-16) trailed 11-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh, but the Penguins plated 10 runs over the final three innings, although a three-spot for Milwaukee (20-33, 17-22) during the top half of the eighth proved to be a major difference.
Youngstown State’s Braeden O’Shaughnessy (Poland) represented the tying run on second base during the bottom of the ninth, with Andre Good on third, but Padraig O’Shaughnessy was fanned to end the contest as a pinch hitter.
Blaze Glenn went 5-of-6 during game two, with a trio of RBIs, along with Glasser’s 4-of-4 line with two RBIs, and Dylan Swarmer’s two-run double during the bottom of the eighth.
YSU hosts their regular season finale this afternoon versus the Panthers, with a first-pitch set for noon at Eastwood Field. With the Horizon League standings falling into place, Wright State will enter next weekend’s tournament as the host and one seed, followed by UIC (second), YSU (third), and Milwakuee (fourth).
Youngstown State’s 31 wins this spring marks the most since the Penguins tallied a 37-17 record during the 1995 campaign.
“It goes fast,” Bertolini said with a laugh. “I mean it feels like it wasn’t that long ago, we were boarding a plane and heading to Troy, so I just try to enjoy every moment that we have together, and hopefully we have a lot more of them.”
“(Today) will be a special today to hopefully cap off a great career for our seniors at Eastwood Field, and then we’ll move into the tournament and see what happens.”