Western Illinois used two solid pitching performances to limit Valparaiso to just two runs and 11 hits in a doubleheader sweep of the Crusaders 2-1 and 3-1 on Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field.
The opener started as a pitcher's dual between Valpo's Matt Evans (Brighton, Mich./Brighton H.S.) and Western Illinois' Mark DiBernardo, with neither pitcher surrendering a hit through three innings of the seven-inning contest.
Three straight singles in the fourth by the Leathernecks, the final a run-scoring hit by Kyle Surprenant, put the visitors in front 1-0. Western Illinois had a chance to add to the lead in the fifth, loading the bases with no one out, but Jay Clites (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) got two strikeouts and a groundout to end the threat.
Valpo tied the game in the bottom of the fifth as Mark Schoeck (Bellfountaine, Ohio/Bellfountaine H.S.) led off with a double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Jeff Rickert's (Hamilton, Ohio/Fairfield H.S.) sacrifice fly to center knotted the game, and the contest would remain tied at one heading into extra frames.
In the eighth, Jake Corley singled home Matt Newquist with two outs to give Western Illinois the win, plating an unearned run following a Crusader error.
DiBernardo (4-0) allowed just three hits to earn the victory while Clites (2-1) suffered the loss, despite allowing just an unearned run and two hits in four innings of relief. Jason Brunelli (Greenfield, Wis./Greenfield H.S.) had the only other hits for Valpo besides Schoeck's double.
In the nightcap, Travis Check hit a two-out, two-run homer that hugged the foul line in the third to give Western Illinois (30-20, 11-5 Mid-Con) the early lead. An inning later, Dan Johnson plated a third run with a groundout, and the Leathernecks had all the runs they would need.
Valpo cut into the 3-0 deficit in the fifth on Michael Arensdorff's (Eldridge, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) single and still had the bases loaded later in the inning but could not push across another run.
Rob Johnson (6-4) earned the victory, allowing just six hits in 7.1 innings while striking out nine. Nick Mazzone (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings while suffering the loss (3-5) for the Crusaders.
Valpo put runners on second and third in the eighth and first and second in the ninth, but could not manage the key hit to tie the game.
Arensdorff went 4-for-5 in the game for Valpo, pushing his season batting average up to .354.
Valparaiso (16-28, 5-7) will have nearly a week off before heading out on the road for the final time in the 2007 regular season for a four-game weekend series against Oakland in Rochester, Mich. Game one of the series will begin on Friday at 2 p.m. CDT.