The Youngstown State baseball team will head to Virginia for four games in a five-day span for its trip over YSU's spring break. The Penguins will play a three-game series against VMI with contests on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and they'll play at Norfolk State on Tuesday. Friday's game will start at 5 p.m., Saturday's and Sunday's contests will start at 2 p.m, and first pitch on Tuesday is set for 1 p.m. Live stats will be available for the three games against VMI through YSUsports.com. The Penguins went 0-3 last week at the Austin Peay Riverview Inn Classic, including one-run losses to Akron and Iowa. VMI enters the weekend with a 4-7 record, and Norfolk State is 1-9.
On The Mound
YSU will keep the same four starters in the rotation, but it will change up the order a bit for this week. Blake Aquadro will shift from starting game three to game one, and Patrick O'Brien and Pat Shedlock will both slide down a slot. Aquadro, a junior lefty, left with a 5-3 lead through 4.1 innings against Iowa but did not factor in the decision. He has lasted 4.1 innings in each of his last two starts and is 0-2 with an 11.91 ERA. O'Brien allowed just one run on four hits in four innings at Austin Peay in his last start before leaving with a minor injury. The sophomore right-hander is 0-2 and has struck out 11 batters over his last 9.1 innings. Shedlock, a junior righty, held a 6-2 lead against Akron in his last start before the Penguins lost 7-6. He was charged with four runs in the no-decision, and he has a 10.50 ERA in his three starts. Gajda allowed eight runs on four hits and three walks in his first career start against Long Island on Feb. 26.
VMI enters the series against YSU with a 4-7 record, including a 4-3 mark at home. The Keydets lost 6-2 to William & Mary on Tuesday to snap a three-game winning streak. They began the season by losing three straight to No. 2 South Carolina, but two of those three losses came by one. VMI was picked to finish seventh in the Big South preseason poll. Chase Worthington is hitting a team-best .321, and Jacob Morley leads the Keydets in slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Right-hander Coby Cowgill will oppose Blake Aquadro in game one, and he'll be followed by lefty Campbell Henkel and right-hander Jeremy Brown. Cowgill is 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his first three starts with 17 strikeouts and three walks. Henkel is 0-3 with a 6.55 ERA, and Brown is 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA. Keydets pitchers have walked just 25 batters in 95 innings.
Scouting Norfolk State
Norfolk State enters the weekend with a 1-9 record and losers of nine straight since beating Rider in the season opener. The Spartans play three games against Delaware State over the weekend before the contest against YSU. James Taylor is hitting .385 in 13 at bats, and Rafael Colon is batting .297 for the high mark among regulars. The Spartans are hitting .236 as a team. No starter has been announced. Norfolk State was picked to finish second in the MEAC North.
Banks Named Horizon League Batter of the Week
YSU senior first baseman Jeremy Banks is the reigning Horizon League Batter of the Week after a strong three-game stint at the Austin Peay Riverview Inn Classic. Banks batted .462 with a home run, seven RBIs and five runs scored to earn all-tournament team honors. He reached base seven times, hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth and drove in six runs in YSU's 16-15 loss to Iowa. Banks leads the Horizon League in batting average (.463), slugging percentage (.756), on-base percentage (.551) and RBIs (15).
Dosch Also Worthy
If not for Banks, sophomore Drew Dosch would have had a strong case for the Horizon League's Batter-of-the-Week Award. Dosch was 7-for-14 with three runs, three RBIs and a stolen base in YSU's three games last week. He reached base in all three games, and he went 7-for-10 in the final two contests of the week. Dosch was 2-for-3 and walked twice against Akron, and he became the 12th player in school history to record five hits in a game when he went 5-for-7 against Iowa. Dosch doubled, scored twice and drove in three runs against the Hawkeyes. For the year, Dosch is batting .375 with a team-high nine runs and six RBIs. He already has three more extra-base hits this season than he did in all of 2011.
Some Impressive "Reached-Base" Streaks
Jeremy Banks, Drew Dosch and Kevin Hix have all reached base in all 10 games for YSU this season. Marcus Heath has reached in all nine of the games he's played, and Phil Lipari has been on safely in eight consecutive games. Banks has the Penguins' longest hitting streak this season at five games, and Dosch and Heath have both had four-game streaks. Jason Shirley and Jake Kucek both have active three-game hitting streaks.
Best Week for Starting Pitchers
YSU got its best collective effort from the starting rotation last week at Austin Peay. Penguins starters allowed 10 earned runs in 14.1 innings, and five of those runs came from stranded runners that the bullpen allowed to come in. Patrick O'Brien had the strongest start, allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out five in his four-inning effort against Austin Peay. Pat Shedlock pitched into the seventh against Akron for the longest outing by a YSU hurler this season.
YSU will play its home and Horizon League opener against Milwaukee on Friday at 3 p.m. at Eastwood Field.