NILES – It’s a small world of baseball for the O’Shaughnessy brothers.
From tossing to each other in their parents backyard as children in Poland to becoming high school teammates, to going their own ways before reuniting while donning the red and white of Youngstown State.
It’s a dream that neither Padraig nor Braeden envisioned, but it’s a dream that has helped build a strong bond between the Penguins’ first and second basemen.
“I think the biggest thing is that we just hold each other accountable,” redshirt senior Padraig said. “We still have places where we can go, if it’s not on campus or Eastwood, where we can hold each other accountable. If I’m struggling or he’s struggling, we can get up and say, let’s go hit balls, let’s go do something to work on it, let’s talk and watch video. ”
Being able to check and help each other out has played a major role in their relationship, having been teammates since little league many years ago. After graduating from Poland Seminary, Padraig headed up to Mercyhurst North East (JUCO) after being recruited by former Saints head coach Dan Bertolini, who left soon thereafter to take the helm at Youngstown State.
In another coincidence, Padraig competed for Jake Marinelli, who led the Saints from 2018-2020, before landing at YSU as an assistant last offseason.
What happened next was just great timing.
Padraig finished his time at Mercyhurst North East while his younger brother Braeden was heading into Youngstown State as a true freshman. It was time for Bertolini, a Poland graduate himself, to reconnect with Padraig and recruit him to YSU.
When the two brothers stepped on the field at the Division I level for the first time together in 2020, the connection was apparent from the get-go for the Penguins.
“They both work extremely hard, they kinda set the standard for the group and I think they fit in right from the beginning to our team chemistry and their work ethic and the way they play, it’s rubbed off on other players,” Bertolini said. (Braeden) has been tremendous, he’s the guy you want up with runners in scoring position, in any kind of big situation he’s really good. Pad has been super clutch in his career for us. His ability to get on base, especially when we had him in the lead-off spot, that was a big reason why Braeden was able to get some of those RBIs and get some really good pitches to hit. ”
Braeden, a junior now, has had a banner year for the Penguins heading into the postseason, batting .366 with a league leading 75 hits, while ranking top ten in the Horizon League in slugging percentage (.437), on base percentage. 556), doubles (16), and RBIs (40). He’s the first Penguin since 2007 to become the regular season batting champion.
“Just a lot of hard work, Pad has pushed me. I think when one of us sees each other do something, the other thinks we have to do it too just because we’re brothers, ” Braeden said about this season. “It’s just how it works, just a lot of hard work and grinding through it.”
For the duo, the ability to not just play college baseball together, but to also live 10 minutes away from their parents and hometown has been an opportunity they don’t take for granted.
Of course, bragging rights are always up for grabs at the dinner table.
“These past games against UIC at home, during a pop-up hit, a little behind first base that I called for, he called me off, and then I just kinda put my hands on my hips and watched him catch it and shook my head at him and he started laughing. ” Padraig recalled. “You could see it in the stands, a bunch of the parents started laughing too.
“I’m definitely okay with it, I guess I would say.”
Between the COVID-19 season and a medical redshirt at Mercyhurst Northeast, Padraig intends to return for his sixth year of college baseball next spring, joining Braden for one more go around. With a slew of local players on the YSU roster, the duo looks forward to any opportunity they have to represent their hometown at the collegiate level.
“Everyone looks who people are and stuff, they know who we are now especially being from here,” Braeden said. “It gets the community going and it’s nice to be able to play in our hometown. A lot of people come to the games and a lot of people follow it. I think it’s pretty special and special for Youngstown. ”
Youngstown State posted a regular season mark of 19-34 (12-16) and enter the Horizon League tournament as the fifth seed. The Penguins will square off against Purdue Fort Wayne this Wednesday to kick start postseason play at Nischwitz Stadium in Dayton, Ohio.