Josh Merrigan | Assistant Baseball Coach
Josh Merrigan is in his second season as pitching coach for the Youngstown State baseball program in 2017-18.
In his first year at Youngstown State, Merrigan and the YSU staff injected a new energy into the program. With largely the same roster from the previous season along with some late additions over the summer, the Penguins won more games during the 2017 regular season than in five of the previous six years. Additionally, YSU tied for its most Horizon League wins since 2009.
Youngstown State earned a pair of road wins over ranked opponents during the season. The Penguins earned a 12-3 victory at No. 17 Georgia Tech on Feb. 26 in what was Bertolini's first victory at YSU. The Penguins then won 11-6 at No. 29 Kent State on April 4.
Three senior pitchers were a big factor in the improvement for Youngstown State. Jeremy Quinlan battled through injuries to go 3-0 over nine starts with a 3.95 ERA. He earned complete-game victories in consecutive home starts in April, and YSU went on to have more complete games from its staff than in any of the previous seven years. Quinlan finished his career ranking seventh in school history in games started while also ranking among the top 20 in career innings and strikeouts.
Once Quinlan made his season debut in March, Joe King moved from the rotation to the closer role and stabilized the bullpen. King saved six games, which tied for the fourth most by a player in program history. He posted a 2.64 ERA after moving to the bullpen on a full-time basis and earned three wins in relief. King finished his career ranking ninth in program history in career saves while also ranking among the top 20 in appearances, games started and innings pitched.
Kevin Yarabinec began the season as the closer but was moved to the rotation in March. He struck out an impressive 39 batters in 42 innings, and he had a 1.65 ERA over his first three starts before the final two months of the season were affected by injuries. Yarabinec finished his Youngstown State career ranking sixth in program history with eight career saves, and his 61 career appearances rank 17th.
Merrigan came to Youngstown having served as the pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, during the 2016 season. The Mustangs had a 44-16 record, and the pitching staff was a big contributor with 423 strikeouts, the ninth-most in the NAIA. Individually, closer Lance Spongberg ranked 18th in the country with eight saves.
Prior to his appointment at Morningside, Merrigan was the recruiting coordinator and assistant coach at Highland Community College (Highland, Kan.) in 2015. He served in the same capacity at Wayne State College (Wayne, Neb.) in 2014.
Before entering the college ranks, Merrigan served as an Associate Scout for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2008-13.
Merrigan guided several teams to state tournament appearances while coaching legion teams in South Dakota. His 2007 Sioux Falls Post 15 West team won South Dakota's "A" American Legion championship and finished third in the American Legion Central Plains Regional.
Merrigan was drafted three separate times in his playing career and pitched two seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from 2001-02. He was drafted for the first time in the 18th round of the 1997 MLB Draft out of Vermillion High School in South Dakota by the Montreal Expos. The Expos selected him again a year later in the 33rd round, and the Cardinals drafted him in the 17th round in 2001.
In 2001, he pitched for the New Jersey Cardinals in the New York-Penn League, which is the same league that the Youngstown-area Mahoning Valley Scrappers play in. Merrigan went on to pitch two seasons in the Northern League for the Sioux Falls Canaries and the Sioux City Explorers in 2003 and 2004. He was selected as a Northern League All-Star in 2003.
As a collegian, Merrigan pitched two seasons at Butler Community College where he posted a two-year record on the mound of 10-4 and earned all-conference honors. He went on to pitch as a junior and senior at Oklahoma State and was named Second-Team All-Big 12 in both seasons. He had a 16-6 record in his two seasons in Stillwater.
Merrigan earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Oklahoma State. He has a son named J.D.
Eric Smith | Assistant Baseball Coach & Recruiting Coordinator
Eric Smith enters his second season as the recruiting coordinator for the Youngstown State baseball program in 2017-18.
In addition to organizing recruiting efforts for a large number of newcomers, Smith helped the Penguins make a big jump offensively as their primary hitting coach in 2017. Youngstown State averaged almost a full run more per game than in 2016 and averaged more runs per game than in five of the previous six seasons. YSU batted 31 points higher and hit an eye-popping 38 more home runs than in 2016. After the regular season, only three teams in the country had improved their home run total from 2016 more than Youngstown State.
YSU had two batters be named a national player of the week during the season. Andrew Kendrick was recognized nationally by several media outlets after he hit five home runs and posted 11 RBIs during the opening weekend. Lorenzo Arcuri was a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball on March 13 after he hit three home runs at Morehead State.
Kendrick went on to smash the previous school record for home runs in a season with 17, which was five more than any other Penguin had hit in program history. Sophomore outfielder/designated hitter Kyle Benyo and junior outfielder Trey Bridis both hit eight home runs after each had just one in 2016.
Smith also works defensively with the outfielders and catchers, and YSU set a new school record with a .966 fielding percentage in 2017.
Smith was an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky in 2016, and he has five additional years of experience coaching at the Division I level. He has coached 19 players who have gone on to play professional baseball and one player who has reached the Major Leagues.
With Smith on the staff in 2016, Eastern Kentucky hit 66 home runs and batted .290 as a team. Mandy Alvarez led the nation in hits per game and was named the Co-Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year. Kyle Nowlin, a First-Team All-OVC selection, tied for second among the country's leaders with 21 home runs. Alvarez was a 17th-round draft pick by the New York Yankees, and Nowlin was a 21st-round selection by the Oakland Athletics.
EKU beat two SEC teams for the first time in program history in Smith's season on staff, beating No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 28 Kentucky.
In addition to working with EKU's hitters, Smith directed the Colonels' camps and community service outreach program.
Smith spent the 2013-15 seasons as an assistant coach at Division II Philadelphia University as the program's recruiting coordinator and assistant coach. During his first season, the Rams reached the playoffs for the first time in six years.
In 2011 and 2012, Smith was an assistant coach and camp director at La Salle. The Explorers were the Big 5 Team of the Year in 2011 with a 28-26 record.
Smith got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Mount St. Mary's, during the 2008-10 seasons. He served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Mountaineers and helped the 2008 squad make the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history and play No. 1 North Carolina. Mount St. Mary's was also strong academically with Smith on the staff, ranking in the top 10 percent in the country in team GPA.
Smith was one of Mount St. Mary's all-time best hitters. He ended his career as the all-time leader in hits (198), runs (127), RBIs (139) and total bases (304), and he still holds the career record for times being hit by a pitch (33). A three-time second-team All-NEC selection, he batted .341 over his four-year career.
Smith graduated from Mount St. Mary's in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in business. He and his fiance, Amanda, live in Akron.
Ryan Krokos | Volunteer Assistant Coach
Former Youngstown State pitcher Ryan Krokos enters his third season as a volunteer assistant coach for his alma mater in 2017-18.
Krokos is charged with several administrative duties within the program. He was assigned additional duties as the program's camp coordinator in 2016 and has helped YSU baseball camps grow in frequency and attendance. On game days, Krokos serves as YSU's first base coach.
Krokos was a member of the Penguins pitching staff from 2011-15. A right-hander from Brecksville, Ohio, he redshirted in 2011 before pitching in both the rotation and the bullpen in his career. His best season was his senior year when he led the team with 27 appearances and set career highs with three wins, two saves and a 4.32 ERA. He was the Penguins' starting pitcher in the 2014 Horizon League Championship game, and he went on to start against Stanford in the NCAA Bloomington Regional.
Before coming to Youngstown State, Krokos pitched at Brecksville Broadview Heights High School in Northeast Ohio. Krokos was ranked 38th on The Buckeye Scout's Top 100 List in the class of 2010 and played in the Greater Cleveland All-Star Game. He helped lead Brecksville Broadview Heights to the regional semifinals as a junior, and the team went 23-5 his senior year.
Krokos graduated from Youngstown State in 2015.