Archive for May, 2011

Joe Iacobucci Named To All-Tourney Team

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Youngstown State senior outfielder Joe Iacobucci has been named to the All-Tournament Team for his performance at the 2011 Horizon League Baseball Championship.

Iacobucci, a Boardman High graduate, hit a team-best .438, posted four RBIs and scored twice in leading the Penguins to a 2-2 record and third-place finish at the tournament.

He scored a run and drove in another in YSU’s 4-2 win over Milwaukee in the opening round. The senior then went 2-for-4 in a loss to Wright State and 3-for-4 with two RBIs in an elimination game against UIC. Iacobucci went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI in his final collegiate game on Saturday, which was an 8-6 loss to Valparaiso.

2011 Horizon League All-Tournament Team

Damon McCormick, Valparaiso
Michael Schum, Wright State
Corey Davis, Wright State
Will Hagel, Valparaiso
Michael Moreman, Valparaiso
Zach Tanner, Wright State (MVP)
Justin Kopale, Wright State
Chris Manning, Valparaiso
Tristan Moore, Wright State
Joe Iacobucci, Youngstown State
Robbie Robinson, Valparaiso

Pirates Enter June Respectably

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What has only happened a handful of times in the past 20 years seems to be breathing again.  It is almost June and the Pittsburgh Pirates are flirting with .500.  The Pirates have one of the worst streaks in all of sports, in fact it is the worst.  Eighteen consecutive seasons with more losses than wins come September.  Kevin McClatchy, who was the majority owner for many of those years, and Dave Littlefield, who was McClatchy’s pon in dumping payroll, caused the Pirates to be the punch line of many jokes over the past couple of decades.  This year, the team is not laughing.

The Yankee fans, always known for running their mouths about “homegrown talent“, have done little with their farm system over the past ten years.  Everyone knows that the mighty Yankees can buy things they need whenever they need them.  Unfortunately, Pittsburgh can’t do that.  Yep, it is a small market team and the best shot they have is to develop players through a good farm system.  That farm system is starting to show effective on the big team.

Free agency is non-existent in Pittsburgh unless they are selling.  The Pirates look like a pack of geniuses for picking up Kevin Correia (pictured, top) for a 12-pack of balls and some fireworks.  Correia has been among the leaders in the NL in wins, WHIP, and ERA.  The other big acquisition was probably manager Clint Hurdle.  Hurdle had success in Colorado and was notorious for a couple of blistering months where his team was unbeatable.

Look at what has come from the farm system and how they are doing.  Andrew McCutchen is not where he should be as far as batting average, but he is piling up extra-base hits at key moments.  He is also one of, if not the best, defensive outfielders in the game today.  Neil Walker is showing no signs of a sophomore slump.  Jose Tabata is making strides in the right direction.  Paul Maholm has had a few hard luck losses but has a stellar ERA and all of his starts but one have been quality starts.  Evan Meek is rested and ready.  There are more.  Pedro Alvarez is the question mark of the group.  Alvarez, known for his slow starts, can really give the Pirates a lift if he can come off of the DL swinging a hot bat.  Evan Ryan Doumit is contributing with game-winning grand slams.

All of those guys came from a farm system striving to serve a purpose instead of agricultural turnover.  A farmer raises a pig and sells it.  These pigs are staying in the pen for a few more years.

YSU Women’s Basketball To Offer Camps In June

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Coach Bob Boldon and staff are conducting a series of women’s basketball camps in June.  The camps are open to the public and are a terrific resource  for refining fundamentals or learning new skills.  The camps are broken down into three categories: Team Camp, Half-Day Individual Camp, and Overnight Elite Camp.  Coach Boldon, and his outstanding staff will supervise all aspects of the camps.

Team Camp will be split into two separate sessions.  Session I is on June 10 and Session II will be held on June 12.  The cost of the Team Camp is $200 per team, per session.  Each team is guaranteed four games per session.  The coaches will try to match teams of equal ability to play on the games which will be officiated by certified high school referees.  The focus of the team camp is geared toward coaches and players developing winning programs and finding ways to stay on top of the game.

Registration will be at 7 a.m. on both days for the team camp and the games will be played from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.  The camp is uniquely offered to JV and Varsity level players.

Half-Day Individual Camp is a fundamentals camp to enhance the skill set of all attending cagers.  The Half-Day Camp registration will be on June 27 at 8 a. m. and the camp itself will be held on four days, starting Monday, June 27 through Thursday, June 30.  The cost of the four-day package is $85 per player and each attendant will receive a t-shirt and other prizes.   The areas of concentration will be ball-handling, passing, shooting, defensive, and rebounding drills.  This camp is open to players entering grades 4-9 in the 2011-12 school year.

Overnight Elite Camp is just what it sounds like, the chance for the players hoping to advance to the college level to push their abilities to a new dimension.  This is the most intense of the three offered camps with areas of skill development such as shooting, passing, post moves, ball handling, and defense.  The first half of this camp is Thursday, June 30, from 5-9 p.m. and the second session starts at 9 the next morning until noon.  The cost of the Overnight Elite Camp is $50 per player.  For anyone seriously wanting to advance their game, this will be a college-level practice environment with speed and agility drills, as well as, game action.

If there are further questions, contact the YSU Women’s Basketball Office at (330) 941-3004.

These three camps, all very different in skill level, are a great resource for a wide array of ages! Sign up!

Youngstown State Baseball Stays Alive With 12-7 Win Over UIC

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Blake Aquadro threw 5.2 innings of shutout relief, and the Youngstown State baseball team got solid contributions throughout the line-up in a 12-7 win over UIC in an elimination game on Saturday in the Horizon League Baseball Championship.

Youngstown State will play another elimination game this evening against the loser of the winners’ bracket final between Wright State and Valparaiso.

The Penguins jumped out to an 8-1 lead, and Aquadro brought calmness once UIC got within one after four innings. While the sophomore lefty from Memphis, Tenn. kept putting up zeros, the offense added a run in the seventh and three more in the ninth.

YSU’s top five hitters in the line-up combined for 12 hits, eight runs and 11 RBIs. Freshman Chris Mitko drove in a game-high four runs, and leadoff hitter Drew Dosch scored four times. Jeremy Banks and Joe Iacobucci both had three hits and two RBIs.

UIC starter Tim Suminski struggled with his command early, and the Penguins took advantage by scoring four runs in three hits and four walks in 1.1 innings. A double play got Suminski out of a bases-loaded jam in the first, but he wasn’t as fortunate in the second.

After getting the leadoff runner, Suminski walked Jonathan Crist and Dan Hurlimann and Padraic Williams reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Dosch walked to force a run in, and Suminski handed the ball off to Collin Weyer.  Neil Schroth flew out to shallow center for the second out, but Banks drove in two with a single to left. Iacobucci singled on a hard shot right back at Weyer to load the bases, and Mitko came through with another two-run single to left to make the score 5-0.

Bill Turosky allowed an unearned run in the bottom of the second, and an 8-5 double play got him out of a bases loaded jam with one out.  A two-run single from Schroth and a sacrifice fly from Mitko in the third put the Penguins up 8-1.

UIC trimmed the lead to 8-4 in the third after a bases-loaded walk and a two-run double by Joe Betcher. The Flames then scored three more in the fourth to cut the margin to 8-7.  Ganek doubled in the first run to knock Turosky from the game, and Matt Serna brought in another run on a ground out.  Andy Leonard then singled in Ganek with two outs.

Neither team scored over the next two innings, and Iacobucci drove in Dosch with a two-out single in the seventh to make the score 9-7. The Penguins added three more insurance runs with two outs in the ninth. Iacobucci brought in Dosch with a sacrifice fly, Schroth scored on a wild pitch and Mitko drove in Banks.

Aquadro was not charged with a run in his 5.2 innings of work. He allowed just three hits, walked one and struck out two in his first win of the year. Suminski dropped to 0-2 with the loss.

Aquadro continued his recent hot streak in May. He entered the month with a 9.80 ERA, but he has allowed just five earned runs over his last 23.2 innings. He’s pitched in all three of YSU’s games in the tournament and has allowed one unearned run on six hits over 8.1 innings.

YSU Wins Horizon Tourney Opener, 4-2, Over Milwaukee

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The Youngstown State baseball team scored four runs in the eighth and got an outstanding performance from senior pitcher Phil Klein to defeat Milwaukee 4-2 in a first-round game in the Horizon League Baseball Championship on Wednesday at Nischwitz Stadium.

The sixth-seeded Penguins advance to play top-seeded Wright State on Thursday at 7 p.m. No. 3 Milwaukee will play an elimination game at 11 a.m. against No. 5 Butler.

Klein allowed two runs on six hits and three walks while striking out 10 in eight innings. He blanked the Panthers for the first seven innings and didn’t allow a run until there were two outs in the eighth.

Klein outdueled Horizon League Pitcher of the Year Chad Pierce, who also did not allow a run for the first seven innings.

“We got an outstanding outing today by Phil, going toe-to-toe with the Pitcher of the Year (Pierce),” YSU head coach Rich Pasquale said. “He showed that he can dominate today. He got good defense behind him, and we came up clutch for him in the eighth.”

Klein allowed two base-runners in the first and another in the second, and Milwaukee had its best chance to score early in the third. After a double play accounted for the first two outs, the next two Panthers reached to put runners at the corners. Klein got Paul Hoenecke to line out to Neil Schroth in center to end the inning. The Panthers had runners at the corners with two outs again in the sixth when Klein struck out Jonathan Capasso to end the inning.

The Penguins also had a chance early when two hits and a walk loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but Pierce worked out of it when Chris Mitko grounded back to the mound. After Jeremy Banks‘ two-out single in the third, Pierce did not allow another hit until the eighth.

With a high pitch counts to Penguin hitters, Pierce began to labor as the innings went on. He walked Drew Dosch to start the eighth, and Banks’ single to center ended the hitless drought. David Leon then reached on an infield hit to load the bases with one out. Pierce walked Joe Iacobucci to force in the game’s first run, and he left after starting pinch-hitter Jonathan Crist off with a ball.

Greg Blohowiak came in for relief, and Crist laid down a bunt single near the first base line to bring in Banks. Dan Hurlimann singled through the right side with the infield drawn in to plate Leon, and Iacobucci scored on Padraic Willams‘ fielder’s choice.

After the long lay-off, Klein allowed a single and a walk to start the bottom of the eighth. He got two big outs when Doug Dekoning flew out and Sam Sivilotti struck out, but Klein beaned Sam Koenig to load the bases.  Jonathan Capasso hit a two-run single to center on an 0-2 pitch, but Klein got Drew Pearson to ground out back to the mound to end the threat.

Klein handed the ball off to Blake Aquadro in the ninth after throwing 140 pitches, and Aquadro earned his first collegiate save. The Panthers had the winning run at the plate after a hit batsman and bunt single, but Aquadro got Dekoning to fly out to right to end the game.

Klein’s 10 strikeouts against the Panthers brought his career total to 258. He moved into second place on YSU’s all-time list, surpassing Justin Thomas (250) and Dave Dravecky (251). Klein also set a new single-season record by making his 15th start of the year.

YSU’s Klein And Dosch Receive Postseason Honors

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Youngstown State senior pitcher Phil Klein (above) was named Second-Team All-Horizon League, and freshman third baseman Drew Dosch was named to the all-newcomer team in a vote of the league’s coaches.

Klein, a native of Gahanna, Ohio and graduate of Gahanna Lincoln High, returns to the all-league team after being a first-team honoree in 2009. Dosch is a native of Canal Winchester, Ohio and a Canal Winchester High graduate.

Klein went 4-5 with a 3.74 ERA this year while leading the league with 95 strikeouts and ranking fifth in innings. In eight conference games, he was 2-2 with a 2.61 and 57 strikeouts in 51.2 innings. Klein was extraordinary in April when he went 2-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts. He posted 10 straight quality starts from March 13 to May 13, and his ERA is 2.26 over his last 11 starts.

Dosch missed 13 games with an injury but still made a good enough impression to earn all-newcomer honors. He hit .252 overall and .310 in Horizon League play.

Wright State claimed four of the top five individual awards. WSU’s Jake Hibberd was named the Player of the Year, Michael Schum was named the Relief Pitcher of the Year, Corey Davis was voted the Newcomer of the Year and Rob Cooper was named Coach of the Year. Milwaukee’s Chad Pierce was named the conference Pitcher of the Year.

Youngstown State Getting New Turf!

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Crews from the Sports Construction Group L.L.C. of Brecksville, Ohio, began synthetic turf replacement at Youngstown State’s Beede Field/Stambaugh Stadium on Monday. The project will move quickly and is expected to be completed in early June.

SCG will install a Shaw Sportexe PowerBlade HP+ synthetic turf system, which combines the appearance of natural grass with the engineered performance of modern synthetic turf. It is specially designed to enhance player speed and performance while providing for maximum player safety.

In addition, SCG recently installed Shaw Sportexe PowerBlade HP+ synthetic turf in YSU’s Watson and Tressel Training Site, an indoor practice facility for several YSU athletics teams.

The Penguins will be one of four Division I football programs to play on the surface. Arkansas’s Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Middle Tennessee State’s Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium and UC Davis’ Aggie Stadium are the only other PowerBlade HP+ Division I fields.

Youngstown State Athletic Director Ron Strollo said he is impressed by the Candy and Eddie DeBartolo and Family Field in the WATTS, and the surface in Stambaugh Stadium will be just as immaculate.

“Nobody builds quality athletic fields like Sports Construction Group. Their experience at the pro, collegiate and high school levels is unparalleled,” Strollo said. “We saw this first hand with their work on our new Watson and Tressel Training Site. It made SCG the obvious choice for the field construction at Stambaugh Stadium.”

Stambaugh Stadium is home to the YSU football and soccer programs and plays host to high school footballgames, numerous intramural events and Health and Physical Education classes.

Through careful planning, the funding for the project comes from a reserve plant fund dedicated solely for the replacement of the stadium’s turf.

Jerry Slocum Interview Part 3: How Winning Helps Recruiting

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One of the biggest challenges any college basketball coach faces annually is recruiting.  Finding just the right guy to plug into your system sounds pretty easy because there are so many young men playing basketball in high schools.  However, the hard task takes months of combing over players, feeling out attitudes, and seeing how committed a person can be to succeed at the next level.  The biggest recruiting tool for any college sport is usually winning.

Jerry Slocum admits that his time at Youngstown State has been very tough.  The results are not what he had envisioned being a successful coach everywhere else he had been.  To the university’s credit, they have stuck by Slocum hoping that he can build a winner.  Last season, the Penguins showed a lot of promise and were very competitive in taking giant steps toward something bigger.

“I was excited about this class, and I am excited about our future”, commented Slocum.  ”I thought the improvement was very noticeable as the year went on.  We had great effort beating Butler, missing a tip-in to almost beat Milwaukee, losing to Valpo in overtime, should have beat Akron.  We were competitive and it gives us hope.  We now are in a position where we don’t have to rely on junior college kids.”

In the past, recruiting was tougher because the team was not as competitive as it was last season.  Beating Butler is huge. I don’t care if YSU beat them because it was an off-night for the Bulldogs, the bottom line is that they won a tremendous college basketball game.  They beat the second best team in college basketball the last two seasons.  Do you think  Slocum, Coach Wernicki, Coach Thorne, or Coach DePaoli were able to recruit effectively by saying, “Well, we beat Hiram and should have beat Robert Morris”? I think not. The visits were easier this year because every kid looked at knows that Youngstown State beat Butler.

“No disrespect to junior college kids”, said Slocum.  ”We have the ability with this group to grow them as freshmen into our system and mold them.  We will work with all of them to maximize their ability, and that is just easier than changing a transfer or a junior college player in most regards.”

The new players have Slocum and staff excited.  ”We have four really good freshmen in this class.  D. J. Cole, Cale Zuiker, and the two kids we redshirted, a 6’9″ kid, Fletcher Larson, and a 6’5″ kid, Shawn Amiker, will really add stability.  I finally think we have a Horizon League kind of talent”, noted Slocum.

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The brightest sign of a big year ahead is not only how much the core improved as a team last season plus the promising recruiting class.  A big factor could be what the other teams in the Horizon League are losing.  Butler is losing Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard. Valpo is going to lose Brandon Wood.  Wright State is pretty much losing their starting unit.  Cleveland State is losing the one guy that they cannot afford to lose, the Horizon League Player of The Year – Norris Cole.  Wisconsin-Green Bay is losing Rahmon Fletcher and Bryquis Perine. The only school getting back an abundance of talent is Detroit.  This could leave the door open for the Penguins to surprise people in 2011-12.  Go ahead, Horizon League, and underestimate our chances.  Your preseason poll this year should have Youngstown State in the top four.

When asked after the Butler game if it was his biggest win ever, Slocum said it ranked up there with a few others.  When I asked the same question again five months later, Slocum explained why in hindsight that the Butler win was really big.

“At other places and moments in time, I have had bigger wins in terms of the stature at the level I was coaching”, commented Slocum.  ”For example, when I was at Geneva, we won the chance to go to the National Tournament, a fete which had not been accomplished there since 1952.  That was a really big win for that school at that moment.  At YSU, the ESPN game against Cleveland State at home in front of a packed house was a big game for this university.  Going back to this Butler game we won at home… it got bigger and bigger as the year went on.  Nobody cheered harder for Butler in that championship game than we did because we would have been the answer to a trivia question for years to come.  Cinderella has never really won the whole thing.  Indiana State and Bird did not finish the deal.  Butler has been there the last two times, and they could not finish it.  I told my wife after I got off of a FOX Sports show that if Butler wins, it would be clearly the biggest win in the history of Youngstown State Basketball.  So, to answer your question, in hindsight, yes, I do believe that the Butler win was the biggest win that I have ever had here.”

I stopped by the basketball offices last week to pick up a flyer for the upcoming camps in June and saw Slocum.  In May, he was working.  His staff was working.  For five plus years they have been working to turn this program into a winner.  As 2011-12 gets closer, let it be said, let it be written…  this team and these coaches shall reap the benefits of their hard work this season.

YSU Men’s Basketball Offering Camps In June

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The Youngstown State men’s basketball program will host four boys’ basketball camp this summer. The coaching staff will offer two team shootout camps, June 5 and June 11. There will also be two individiual camps, June 13-16, and June 20-23.

The team shootout camps (June 5 and June 11) are targeted for varsity and JV high school teams and cost $275 per varsity team and $210 per junior varsity squad. There is also a two-day option which costs $475 for varsity and $350 for junior varisty. The team shootouts run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on each day.

The Full-Court Camp is an individual camp that runs from June 13-16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This camp is aimed at kids entering fifth through 12th grade in the fall of 2011. Early registration cost of the Full-Court Camp is $130 and has deadline of June 6. Late registration for the Full-Court Camp is $145.

The Half-Court Camp, June 20-23, is another individual camp that is geared toward kids entering grades second through ninth in the fall of 2011. This camp runs from 8:30 a.m. to Noon. Early registration costs $85 and has a deadline of June 13. Registrations after June 13 cost $95.

For more information, contact the YSU men’s basketball office at (330) 941-3004.

Scrappers And New York-Penn League Offer Scholarship Opportunity Locally

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and the New York-Penn League today announced that the league’s philanthropic arm, the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, will once again sponsor a scholarship program allowing area high school seniors the opportunity to compete for one of three $2,500 grand-prize awards.

The 2011 NYPL Scholarship Program is open to any graduating senior from a public or private high school, who has been accepted at any two or four-year college or university, vocational or technical education institution or program. Applicants will be judged based on academic performance, volunteer and extracurricular activities, and the impact the Scrappers and Minor League Baseball have had on their lives.

The Scholarship Program will consist of two stages – a local round and a divisional round. In the local stage, applicants from throughout the Scrappers’ home market will compete against each other to determine one winner who will represent Mahoning Valley in the final round. At the divisional stage, the Scrappers’ representative will compete against the winners from the Auburn Doubledays, Batavia Muckdogs, Jamestown Jammers, State College Spikes and Williamsport Crosscutters for the Pinckney Division’s $2,500 award. Any finalist who does not win the top scholarship will receive a $250 book award.

In total, the New York-Penn League Scholarship Program will award $10,250 in scholarships this summer to deserving high school graduates from the NYPL’s 14 markets.

“The New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation initiated the scholarship program in 2009 as a way to assist high school seniors from within our league’s footprint who not only meet and exceed traditional scholarship criteria, but have also demonstrated the positive benefits their local NYPL club has had on their life,” said Ben J. Hayes, President of the New York-Penn League. “The Foundation is pleased to have this scholarship program in place and to support our 14 member clubs in their year-round community outreach efforts.”

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Scholarship applications are available by contacting the Mahoning Valley Scrappers at (330) 505-0000 or by visiting the official website of the New York-Penn League, www.newyork-pennleague.com for details. The deadline to submit applications is June 30, 2011 and finalists will be selected in late July and honored at an August home game.

The New York-Penn League and its 14 member clubs created the New York-Penn League Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, in 2003. The mission of the Foundation is to provide focus and support for the collective and individual charitable and community efforts of the New York-Penn League, its Clubs, and their staff.