Valparaiso’s bats were alive on Sunday afternoon, but Indiana had just a little more fire power as the Hoosiers defeated the Crusaders 17-14 in Clarksville, Tenn.
The two sides combined for 39 hits, including four by Valpo’s Brett Bivens (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview H.S.) and five by the Hoosiers’ Josh Phegley, who hit for the cycle, who also had five runs batted in.
The Crusaders rallied from a 9-3 deficit with seven runs in the fourth inning to take a 10-9 lead. After Indiana retook a 16-10 advantage, the Crusaders fought back to within three and had the tying run on base in the ninth with two outs, but could not plate any more runs.
“We had two good comebacks today, but it was not enough,” head coach Tracy Woodson said.
Indiana started the scoring with two runs in the opening inning, and Valpo matched the Hoosiers in the top of the second. An infield single by Bivens scored one and an Indiana balk tied the game. The Hoosiers added a run in the bottom of the second, only to be matched by a Josh Wallace (Bellfontaine, Ohio/Bellfontaine H.S.) homer to lead off the third.
The Hoosiers scored six times in the bottom of the third to build the 9-3 advantage, capped by a two-run homer off the bat of Ethan Wilson.
Valpo quickly answered putting up seven runs in the fourth, all with two outs. Wallace singled home the first run and Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) followed with a run-scoring double. Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) added a two-run double and Joe Lazar (Traverse City, Mich./Central H.S.) capped the inning with a three-run blast to right-center, his second career round-tripper.
Phegley’s homer in the bottom of the fourth put Indiana back on top by a run, and the Hoosiers added five more in the fifth to build a 16-10 lead. A Frane homer in the sixth brought Valpo back within five before Wallace singled home two runs in the seventh. Another Crusader scored on a double play ball, and the Brown and Gold headed into the seventh inning stretch down just two.
Indiana (3-3) added a run in the bottom of the inning and the Crusaders, despite loading the bases with two outs in the ninth, could not plate another run in the game.
“Our pitchers did not get the ball down again today, and with the wind blowing out it hurt us,” Woodson added. “We did swing the bats well though.”
Kyle Leiendecker earned the win (2-0) in relief for Indiana while Jay Clites (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) suffered the loss (0-1) for the Crusaders.
Valparaiso (2-4) will now head to Raleigh, N.C. on Tuesday afternoon for a battle with North Carolina State. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. CST with all the action carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.