Zach Rodeghero’s (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) two-out single in the bottom of the ninth capped a seven-run inning and brought Valparaiso back from a 13-0 deficit to force extra innings before Ryan O’Gara’s (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) sacrifice fly in the tenth gave Valparaiso a 16-15 victory over Butler in the opening game of a doubleheader at Emory G. Bauer Field on Saturday afternoon. The Crusaders then completed the sweep of the twinbill with a 7-4 victory in the nightcap.
Rodeghero went 7-for-10 on the afternoon to extend his hitting streak to 18 straight games and raise his average to .449 on the season. Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) hit three homeruns in the opener, including a three-run shot in the ninth as part of the comeback efforts on his way to a five hit day. Quinnette drove home six runs in game one. Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) went 5-for-6 in the opener with four runs batted in while Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) also had five hits on the afternoon.
The opener saw Butler jump out to a 13-0 lead after four-and-a-half innings. Joe Pauley hit three homers in the first five frames, including a pair of three-run shots in the fourth and fifth innings. Michael Letzter also hit a three-run blast in the second while Grant Fillipitch hit his first of two homers in the third. He added a solo shot in the eighth as well.
Valpo finally got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fifth on Quinnette’s first round-tripper of the day. A three-run blast by Frane in the sixth cut the deficit to nine. After an unearned run scored in the seventh, Butler added to the lead in the eighth to take a 15-5 advantage to the bottom of the inning. The Crusaders got three runs back to close within seven on a sacrifice fly by O’Gara and a homer two-run bomb to left-center by Quinnette.
Rodeghero started the ninth inning rally with a double and Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) drew a one-out walk. A single by Frane scored Rodeghero. A single by John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./.Coventry H.S.) loaded the bases and forced Butler to bring in Friday’s starter, Ryan Kruszka from the bullpen.
O’Gara hit a come-backer to the mound that appeared to be a game-ending double play, but Kruszka threw the ball into centerfield to score two runs. Quinnette then followed, taking advantage of the miscue, with a three-run blast to left-center to cut the deficit to 15-14
DeBruin then restarted the rally with a double to the gap in right-centerfield and moved to third with two outs following a groundout. With two strikes on Rodeghero, the fifth-year senior flipped the ball over shortstop to tie the game at 15.
Jarad Miller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) came on and pitched a 1-2-3 top of the tenth, allowing the Crusader bats to come to life again. Lenski led off the inning with a single and Frane added a bunt hit to put runners on first and second. A failed pickoff attempt of pinch-runner Bo McClendon (Chesterton, Ind./Merrillville H.S.) at second base moved the runners to second and third. After Guisti was intentionally walked with no one out, O’Gara hit a line drive to left that was caught, but plated McClendon with the winning run.
Miller (3-1) earned the win in relief for his team-leading third victory of the season, and would later pick up save number five on the year in the nightcap. Kruszka (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing the final four runs of the game.
In the nightcap, Valpo banged out 17 more hits after registering 19 in the opener. Frane started the scoring in the first with a sacrifice fly only to have Butler (9-28, 5-14 Horizon League) tie the game on a Colin Ziegel homer in the second. Joe Lazar (Traverse City, Mich./Central H.S.) singled home two runs in the third to put the Brown and Gold back on top.
The Bulldogs answered with three in the top of the fourth on a double by Ziegel and a single by Ryan Neat. Letzter’s fielder’s choice groundout gave Butler its only lead of the game, 4-3. Rodeghero’s RBI single in the bottom of the frame tied the game before Valpo plated three in the fifth. Guisti had a run-scoring double and DeBruin had a triple before Brett Bivens (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview H.S.) drove home the final run with his third hit of the game.
Butler added a run in the ninth, but could not rally like Valpo had in the opener. Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) earned the win (2-3) working five innings for the Crusaders and striking out seven. Brian Deter (0-1) suffered the loss for the Bulldogs.
Valparaiso (13-25, 5-8) will now head to Peoria, Ill. on Tuesday evening for a doubleheader against Bradley. First pitch of game one is set for 4 p.m.