BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown State baseball team opens its season next Friday.
But, the Penguins officially kicked off the 2017 campaign Saturday morning with a couple major league guests — Carlos Baerga and Justin Thomas — at the YSU First Pitch Breakfast.
Over 400 people gathered at The Embassy in Boardman as fans were treated to breakfast and a silent auction.
First-year head coach Dan Bertolini gave an update on the program heading into the season before fans heard from Thomas, a former pitcher for YSU and the Boston Red Sox.
“It’s great to be back and just be on campus and see the passion and the desire that Coach Bertolini and his staff have,” Thomas said. “I’m excited to see what happens here moving forward with the team and I’m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Cleveland Indians Hall of Famer Baerga also spoke, sending a positive message to the young players.
“When you have confidence, determination and passion in everything you do, you’re going to be a winner,” Baerga said. “To the young players here, when you step in the field, you have to work hard to be the best.”
YSU travels to Austin Peay in Tennessee for its season-opener on Friday.
The Penguins will also play Indiana State and Illinois State in Austin Peay on Saturday and Sunday. They then have a three-game series at Georgia Tech the following weekend (Feb. 24-26).
Bertolini takes over for former head coach Steve Gillispie, whose YSU team went 14-38 in 2016.
“We’re heading in a great direction,” Bertolini said. “It’s a good re-enforcer that Carlos and Justin can see, you know, the progress that we’re making here. It’s good for our guys to hear some of the things that we’ve told them — coming from Major League baseball players — about working hard and putting in extra time.”