YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Youngstown State baseball team is set to open the 2023 season on Friday as they take on Illinois and #6 Wake Forest.

Watch the video above to hear from the Penguins.

“For us in order to try to accomplish our goals, we’re going to have to be able to beat really good teams on the road, especially if we want to go into an NCAA tournament,” says YSU head coach Dan Bertolini.

“So, this is an opportunity for us to really see where we’re at, playing some great environments and really challenge ourselves.”

The Penguins are coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time since 2005-2006.

Poland grad Braeden O’Shaughnessy returns for YSU after being selected as a first-team All-Horizon League selection last year.

He led the Penguins with a .357 batting average, 79 hits, 16 doubles, seven home runs, 41 RBIs, and 36 runs scored.

The YSU roster features 13 players from the Valley.

“Biggest things that stands out with this team is how close we are this year,” senior infielder Steven D’Eusanio says.

“The bond between guys, everyone wants everyone to be great, you know? And like I said before, just the amount of work we’ve been putting in is that that bond we’ve created is just something special.”

The Penguins will have a doubleheader on Friday against the Illini and Demon Deacons. Then they will face Illinois on Saturday and Wake Forest on Sunday.

“We want to build off some of the successes we’ve had in the last couple of years – continue to get better,” says Bertolini.

“I think we have an older group, a group of guys that have kind of been through this and, you know, gained a lot of experience last year. And for them to be able to, you know, get back out there and give us an opportunity to hopefully do that.”

YSU was picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League preseason poll.