Centenary used a five-run top of the fourth inning and a complete game pitching performance by Brandon Fulenchek to defeat Valparaiso 6-2 on Friday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field in the Mid-Continent Conference opener for both schools.
The first three plus innings were a pitcher's dual. Elliott Gibbs (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) retired 11 of the first 12 hitters he faced, including five strikeouts in the first two innings, while Fulenchek allowed just one hit through five innings.
The Gents got on the scoreboard with two outs in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Cameron Penny and Alex Maldonado plated the first run. Following a hit batsman, Garrett DeRooy singled home Maldonado and Teddy Saenz scored two more with his single. Nate Santiago added the fifth hit of the inning to increase the advantage to 5-0.
A pinch hit sacrifice fly with the bases loaded by Jason Blilie added the sixth run in the fifth inning before Valpo found the scoreboard.
Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) led off the seventh with a single and Josh Piazza (Glenview, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) followed with another hit, his 11th straight game hitting safely, to put runners on the corners with no outs. A run-scoring fielder's choice off the bat of Mark Schoeck (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) scored Rzpeka, but Fulenchek got a pair of fly outs to end the threat allowing just the one run.
The Crusaders added their final run in the ninth as Josh Wallace's (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) two-out double plated Rzepka, the only Valpo batter with two hits in the game.
Penny went 3-for-5 for the Gents to lead their 10-hit attack. Fullenchek (6-2) allowed just six hits by the Crusaders while striking out five and walking two in his complete game victory. Gibbs (2-4) went 4.1 innings allowing five earned runs and seven hits while striking out five.
Valparaiso (11-20, 0-1 Mid-Con) and Centenary (18-18, 1-0) will continue their four-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader at Emory G. Bauer Field beginning at noon. The games can be heard live online at www.sportsjuice.com. In addition, Sunday's single game's starting time has been moved up to noon as well.