Baseball Opens 2020 Season with Three-Game Series at Houston

Colin Clark (Photo by Rob Hayes)
Colin Clark (Photo by Rob Hayes)

Game Preview

  • The Youngstown State baseball team will begin the 66th season in program history this weekend with a three-game series in Houston, Texas, against Houston at Don Sanders Field at Darryl & Lori Schroeder Park.
  • The Penguins and Cougars will play at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on Friday in the opener, at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Friday will mark the first meeting between the two programs on the diamond.
  • Schedule Change: First pitch for Sunday's series finale has been moved up an hour to 1 p.m. ET due to travel logistics.
  • Live video and audio will be available for all three games. Fans can watch live via UHCougars.com or listen to the home radio broadcast at YSNLive.com.
  • Live stats will also be available throughout the weekend through links on YSUsports.com. Fans can also follow @YSUBaseball on Twitter for live updates.
  • Youngstown State will be playing in the state of Texas for the first time since the 2007 season. The Penguins opened that campaign with a series at Stephen F. Austin on Feb. 23-25, 2007. YSU also played a three-game series at Texas in February 2005.
  • YSU is scheduled to start left-handers Colin Clark and Collin Floyd on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Right-hander Travis Perry is slated to start the series finale on Sunday.

YSU vs. Houston

A Win on Friday Would…

  • Allow YSU to win its season opener for the second time in the last three years.
  • Be the 276th in head coach Dan Bertolini's career and his 47th at Youngstown State.
  • Give the Penguins their first win over Houston in program history.

Scouting Houston

  • Houston went 32-24 overall and 12-12 in the American Athletic Conference in 2019. The Cougars, who finished tied for fourth in the AAC standings last year, have won at least 32 games each of the last seven seasons. UH was ranked No. 35 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's preseason Fabulous 40.
  • Houston lost its top two hitters from a year ago in Jared Triolo and (.332, 7 HR, 44 RBIs) and Joe Davis (.295, 18 HR, 57 RBIs). The Cougars' top returning hitters are sophomore pitcher/infielder Derrick Cherry and sophomore infielder/outfielder Brad Burckel. Cherry batted .292 last season while Burckel hit .271 and stole a team-high 16 bases.
  • Senior left-hander Lael Lockhart Jr. returns after leading Houston with 83 innings pitched and 76 strikeouts in 2019. He went 4-6 with a 3.58 ERA over a team-best 15 starts last season.
  • Junior left-hander Clay Aguilar also returns after posting a 6-4 record and a 3.06 ERA a year ago. He led the squad in wins while ranking second in starts (13) innings (67.2) and strikeouts (73).
  • The Cougars were picked second in the preseason AAC poll behind ECU. Aguilar and Lockhart Jr. were each named to the AAC Preseason All-Conference Team.
  • Houston is under the direction of 10th-year head coach Todd Whitting. He has led the Cougars to three regular season AAC titles and two AAC tournament crowns. UH has also reached the NCAA Regionals four times under Whitting, and it advanced to the Super Regionals in 2014.

Notebook

Preseason Poll Results

  • D1Baseball picked YSU to finish fourth in its projected conference standings. Defending regular season-champion Wright State was tabbed as the preseason favorite.
  • YSU was picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League in preseason projections by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper. Collegiate Baseball also picked Wright State to defend its 2019 regular season Horizon League title.
  • Youngstown State was also picked fifth in the 2020 Horizon League Baseball Preseason Poll. UIC slightly edged out Wright State as the preseason favorite in a vote of the league's head coaches. The Flames and Raiders each received three first place votes.
  • In the league's poll, Milwaukee was picked third while Northern Kentucky was selected fourth. Oakland was projected to finish sixth behind YSU.

Schedule Notes

  • The Penguins will begin the season with 13 straight road games, and proceed to play 21 of their first 23 contests away from home.
  • YSU's home opener at Eastwood Field is March 10 against Bowling Green, and the team's Horizon League opener is slated for March 13 at Northern Kentucky.
  • The Penguins have not played a home game on or before March 10 since a doubleheader against West Liberty State on March 7, 2000, at Eastwood Field.
  • Youngstown State is scheduled for 21 home games, including a contest with ACC member Pitt on April 28. The Guins beat the Panthers twice during the 2019 season.
  • The 2020 schedule includes one Power-Five opponent (Pitt) and five from the Mid-American Conference. In addition to 21 home games, YSU will play a total of four road contests against regional foes Akron, Kent State and Pittsburgh.
  • The Penguins will play Houston, Abilene Christian and N.C. Central for the first time in program history. YSU will play College of Charleston for the first time since 2011, and Akron for the first time since 2015.
  • Youngstown State will play 11 of its final 15 regular season games at home include seven of 10 in the month of May. The Penguins will have three different four-game homestands at Eastwood Field.

Roster Composition

  • There are 35 players on YSU's roster in 2020, and 23 of them were with the program last year. That is a stark contrast from two seasons ago, when 23 of the team's 35 players were newcomers.
  • The roster consists of eight seniors, seven juniors, 11 sophomores and nine freshmen. There are 17 returning letterwinners and 11 newcomers. The group of newcomers includes eight true freshmen and three transfers.
  • Of YSU's 35 players, 34 are from Ohio or Pennsylvania. Nick Caruso (Sterling Heights, Mich.) is the only Penguin who does not hail from the Buckeye or Keystone state. In addition, eight are from the Mahoning Valley and nine others hail from Northeast Ohio.

Three Players Named Top Players to Watch by Collegiate Baseball

  • Senior left-hander Collin Floyd, senior infielder Blaze Glenn and junior outfielder/infielder Jeff Wehler were named Top Players to Watch in the Horizon League by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper in its 2020 preview edition.
  • Floyd, who missed all of last season due to injury, was a Second-Team All-Horizon League pick as a junior in 2018. During that campaign, he set team and career highs with 69.1 innings and 82 strikeouts in 12 starts on the mound.
  • Glenn was a second-team all-league pick for the second straight season in 2019. He led YSU in home runs (9), RBIs (42), doubles (11), walks (39) runs scored (33) and total bases (86). He ranked in the top 10 in the league in home runs, RBIs, walks and steals.
  • Wehler has also been named Second-Team All-Horizon League each of the last two seasons. He led YSU and set new career highs last year with a .290 batting average, 54 hits and 30 stolen bases. His 30 steals rank as the second-most in a season in YSU history.

Six Penguins Earn Preseason Recognition from D1Baseball

  • Six Penguins earned preseason recognition from D1Baseball.com in the website's 2020 conference preview.
  • Jeff WehlerBlaze GlennCollin FloydColin Clark and Dominick Bucko were each ranked among D1Baseball's top-20 draft prospects for 2020. In addition, Turner Grau was named among the website's top-10 impact freshmen.
  • Wehler was ranked the No. 6 draft prospect for 2020, Glenn was No. 7 and Floyd was No. 10.
  • Clark was ranked as the No. 16 2020 draft prospect in the league after leading YSU with 13 starts, 72 innings and 51 strikeouts as a sophomore last season.
  • Bucko, who was ranked as the league's No. 18 draft prospect for 2020, will be in his first season with the Penguins after transferring from Cuyahoga Community College. He batted over .350 and slugged over .550 in each of his two seasons with the Triceratops.
  • Grau, who was ranked No. 5 on D1Baseball's list of impact freshmen in the league, was a three-sport standout in football, basketball and baseball at Avonworth High School in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was ranked the No. 85 overall prospect in the state of Pennsylvania by Prep Baseball Report. Grau is expected to be a major contributor in the Penguins' lineup as a true freshman.

Wehler Coming Off Stellar Season

  • Jeff Wehler was named Second-Team All-Horizon League as a left fielder in 2019 after being a second-team selection at shortstop as a freshman in 2018. He led YSU with a .290 batting average and 54 hits while establishing himself as one of the best base stealers in program history with a team-high 30 stolen bases.
  • After stealing a team-high 25 bases in 2018, Wehler now ranks fourth in Youngstown State history with 55 in his career. He is just the fifth player in school history to swipe at least 50 bases.
  • Wehler finished the regular season ranked second in the league and 16th in the nation with his 30 steals. His 17 steals in league play also ranked second behind Wright State's JD Orr, who swiped 26 bags in conference action and led the nation with 60 total steals.
  • Wehler's 30 steals tied for the second-most in a season in program history, and tied for the most by a YSU underclassmen. The single-season school record of 35 was set by Nick Gesacion in 1970.
  • At the end of the regular season, Wehler was one of 22 players in the country with 30 or more stolen bases and only four underclassmen had more. The St. Marys, Pa., native finished the regular season ranked 15th nationally with 0.64 steals per game.
  • In a win at Wright State, Wehler became just the third player in YSU history to steal at least four bases in a game, and the first since 1968. He recorded his second four-steal game in a win over Eastern Michigan to become the first player in school history to steal at least four bases in a game multiple times.

Another Strong Season for Glenn

  • Blaze Glenn is coming off another strong season heading into 2020. He was named Second-Team All-Horizon League as a third baseman in 2019 after being a second-team selection in right field as a sophomore in 2018.
  • Glenn led YSU in home runs (9), RBIs (42), doubles (11), walks (39) and total bases (86). He also ranked second on the team in slugging (.441) and stolen bases (18). He ranked in the top 10 in the league in home runs, RBIs, walks and steals, and he was the only infielder in the conference to rank top-10 in both home runs and steals.
  • The Toronto, Ohio, native was twice named Horizon League Batter of the Week in 2019, and he became just the second Penguin to hit at least nine homers in two different seasons. Glenn now ranks tied for eighth in school history with 20 in his YSU career, and he will have a chance to reach Andrew Kendrick's record of 30 in 2020.
  • On the YSU career charts, Glenn also ranks 10th in OPS (.912), 11th in walks (78), 13th in stolen bases (34), 13th in slugging percentage (.500) and 15th in on-base percentage (.412).

Pitching Staff Has Depth, Experience

  • YSU will enter the 2020 season with a pitching staff that boasts a fair amount of depth and experience. The Penguins return eight different pitchers who tossed at least 27 innings last season.
  • In addition, YSU has three more pitchers (Collin Floyd, Joel Hake and Zack Minney) who tossed at least 33 innings in 2018. All three missed significant time last year due to injuries.
  • Junior LHP Colin Clark led YSU with 13 starts, 72 innings and 51 strikeouts last season. Clark's 72 innings were the most by a Penguin since Joe King's 72.1 in 2016.
  • Sophomore RHP Travis Perry ranked second on the team in innings (62.2), starts (9) and victories (2) while ranking third in strikeouts (42).
  • Junior RHP Jon Snyder ranked second on the squad with 44 strikeouts and posted a team-high 10.61 K/9 in 2019. His 44 strikeouts were the most by a YSU freshman since 2016 and only two freshmen in the Horizon League had more.
  • Sophomore LHP Marco DeFalco made nine starts and five relief appearances last season. In addition, Chad Coles, Dalton Earich, Grant Kersh and Brandon Matthews all made at least 17 appearances a year ago.

Aggressive on the Bases

  • YSU will be looking to put pressure on opposing teams with aggressive base running once again in 2020. The Penguins set a new single-season school record with 113 stolen bases in 2019. The previous mark of 104 had stood since 1970. That is the only other time in school history YSU stole at least 100 bases in a campaign.
  • At the end of the regular season, the Penguins ranked second in the Horizon League and 12th in the nation in stolen bases. YSU also ranked 11th nationally with 2.11 steals per game. The Guins were 113-for-139 in stolen base attempts for a success rate of .813, which ranks as the fourth-best single-season mark in school history.
  • After stealing 86 bases in 2018, the Penguins have now recorded two of the four best single-season stolen base totals in school history over the last two years. YSU has swiped at least 85 bags in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1997-98. Before 2018, the Penguins had not recorded at least 80 steals since 1998.
  • YSU's nine steals on April 10, 2019, against Toledo tied the single-game school record, and they are the most the Penguins have ever recorded against a Division I opponent.

Returning Firepower

  • In addition to Glenn and Wehler, YSU also returns IF Phillip Glasser and C Dylan Swarmer, who were each named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team last season.
  • Glasser started 48 of YSU's 54 games, and he was in the top third of the Penguins' batting order 47 times. He ended the season on a nine-game hitting streak, and he ranked third on the team with a .266 batting average and 49 hits. Only three freshmen in the Horizon League had a higher batting average or more RBIs.
  • Swarmer started at catcher in 41 of YSU's 54 games. He was pressed into full-time duty early in the season due to injuries and finished the year with eight doubles, three triples, two homers and 17 RBIs.
  • In a win over Wright State, Swarmer became the first YSU catcher to hit two home runs in a game since Adam Cox in 2004. In a loss at Penn State, Swarmer went 5-for-5 to become the first Penguin since Drew Dosch in 2012 to record five hits in a game.
  • YSU returns five position players who each started at least 41 times last season and eight who played in at least 31 games. Junior OF Lucas Nasonti, who was a Horizon League All-Freshman Team pick in 2018, is back after starting 50 games in center field in 2019.
  • In addition, senior IF Cody Dennis, sophomore IF Steven D'Eusanio and senior OF Cam Murray each made at least 16 starts last season.

Welcome Back

  • Youngstown State also returns a number of key players who missed significant time last season due to injury or illness.
  • Senior catcher Nick Caruso is expected to start behind the plate after playing just three games in 2019 due to illness. Caruso played in 41 games and started 36 times as a junior in 2018.
  • Senior left-hander Collin Floyd is expected to be YSU's Saturday starter after missing all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. Floyd was named Second-Team All-Horizon League as a junior in 2018. He ranks 11th in YSU history with 190 career strikeouts.
  • Senior right-hander Joel Hake is expected to anchor the Penguins' bullpen after pitching in just three games last year due to a leg injury. He made a team-high 26 appearances and led the Penguins with four saves as a junior in 2018. Hake is tied for fifth in YSU history with 79 career appearances and could reach the school record of 85, set by Ryan Sellman from 2005-08.
  • Sophomore first baseman Nick LaBrasca returns after playing just seven games last season due to an arm injury. He was named to the Horizon League All-Freshman Team in 2018 after batting .277 and slugging .422 with six doubles, two home runs and 18 RBIs.
  • Senior right-hander Zack Minney is expected to be a key member of the Penguins' bullpen in 2020 after missing last season due to Tommy John surgery. He has appeared in 39 games during his YSU career.

Floyd Provides Major Boost to Pitching Staff

  • The return of senior starting pitcher left-hander Collin Floyd should provide a major boost to a YSU pitching staff that was hit hard by injuries in 2019.
  • Floyd, who missed all of last season due to Tommy John surgery, was a Second-Team All-Horizon League pick as a junior in 2018. During that campaign, he set team and career highs with 69.1 innings and 82 strikeouts in 12 starts on the mound.
  • Floyd's 82 punch outs ranked fourth in the Horizon League and tied for the seventh most in a season in school history. He became the first Penguin to record at least 80 strikeouts in a season since Phil Klein had 105 in 2011.
  • The Akron, Ohio, native made 13 starts in each of his first two years with the program, and has fanned at least 50 batters in each season of his career. In 2016, Floyd registered 58 strikeouts, which was the most by a YSU freshman since Justin Thomas struck out 80 batters in 2003.
  • Floyd ranks 11th in YSU history with 190 career strikeouts, and he ranks ninth with 38 games started. He needs just three more punch outs to crack the top 10 and 76 to break Aaron Swenson's record of 265.

Up Next

  • Youngstown State will be back in action Feb. 21-23 for a three-game series at College of Charleston. First pitch for Friday's series opener at the Baseball Stadium at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, S.C., is set for 4 p.m. ET.