Six Valparaiso pitchers limited Northwestern to just three hits and Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) had three hits and four RBIs for the Brown and Gold as the Crusaders defeated the Wildcats 10-1 on Tuesday afternoon in Evanston, Ill.
The victory was the second in as many years on the road against the Big Ten Wildcats.
The Crusaders struck first in their opening at bat. With two outs, Manthei singled through the right side to score Michael Arensdorff (Eldridge, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) from second base.
Northwestern appeared poised to score in the bottom half of the first, loading the bases with the first three hitters. Valpo starter Matt Evans (Brighton, Mich./Brighton H.S.) worked out of the jam though, getting a fielder's choice at the plate and a double play to get out of the inning without allowing a run.
Valpo added to its lead in each of the next two innings. Josh Piazza (Glenview, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) singled home Manthei in the fourth inning to increase the lead to 2-0. In the fifth, Jeff Rickert (Hamilton, Ohio/Fairfield H.S.) led off with a single and Arensdorff reached after being hit by the pitch. Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) drilled a double into the right-field corner to score Rickert. Two batters later, Manthei delivered his second homerun of the season, a deep blast over the left-centerfield wall. The three-run shot increased the Crusader advantage to 6-0.
The Crusader bats stayed hot in the seventh inning, as Valpo batted around to score four more runs. Arensdorff and Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) both doubled, but Arensdorff had to hold at third. After Manthei was intentionally walked, Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.) drew a bases loaded pass to force home a run. Mark Schoeck (Bellefountaine, Ohio/Bellefountaine H.S.) laced a single through the right side to drive home Rzepka and Manthei and Piazza capped off the Valpo scoring with his sacrifice fly.
Northwestern (9-21) finally found the scoreboard in the ninth on a Tony Vercelli double to left-center, the third hit of the game.
Evans earned his first collegiate victory, pitching the first three innings. Andrew Smith (0-1) suffered the loss for the Wildcats as the game's starter.
Arensdorff, Rodeghero, and Schoeck each tallied two hits in addition to Reynolds' three hit game, part of Valpo's 13-hit attack on the day.
Valparaiso (11-19) will return to Emory G. Bauer Field on Friday afternoon as the Crusaders open Mid-Continent Conference play against Centenary. First pitch in game one of the four-game weekend series is set for 3 p.m. The game can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.