On a day which saw a pair of pitcher’s duals at Emory G. Bauer Field, Valparaiso and Youngstown State split a Horizon League doubleheader on Saturday with the Penguins winning the opener 2-1 and the Crusaders taking the nightcap 3-2.
Prior to the games, Valpo’s eight seniors were honored for playing in their final home games. Both games sailed along, being played in less than and hour and 50 minutes each.
After Youngstown State (19-30, 11-11 Horizon League) came from behind in the ninth to win the opener, Valpo held on in the ninth of game two for the victory.
Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) was solid in game two, working into the ninth inning allowing just seven hits and two runs without walking a batter. Both runs scored in the ninth after he had left the game.
Valpo jumped on top in the nightcap in the second inning as Josh Wallace (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) walked and Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) doubled him home with a two-bagger to the gap in right-center. Joe Lazar (Traverse City, Mich./Central H.S.) added a run-scoring single to increase the lead to 2-0.
Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) led off the third with a double and scored on a single by Quinnette with two outs to extend the lead to three. Neither team would score again until the ninth.
Youngstown State starter Chuck Schiffhauer (1-5) went the distance, allowing just the three runs and 10 hits while walking just one. He set down eight straight in the middle innings and did not allow a hit after the sixth.
Gulbransen (3-7) was just as sharp, not allowing a Penguin to reach third until the ninth. Sean Lucas led off with a single and moved to third on an Erich Diedrich double. Jay Clites (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) came on and induced two run-scoring ground outs before Jarad Miller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) recorded the final out for his league-leading seventh save of the season.
Lucas went 3-for-4 for the Penguins offensively while Quinnette also had a three hit game for the Crusaders to go along with the two runs batted in.
The opener was a pitcher’s dual between Valpo’s Elliott Gibbs (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) and the Penguins’ Aaron Swenson. Both hurlers went the distance, throwing just over 100 pitches each.
Swenson scattered just two hits over the first five innings, retiring 10 in a row heading into the sixth. John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. After moving to third on a ground out, Wallace plated him with a single to rightfield for the game’s first run.
Valpo would manage just one hit the rest of the way, but took the 1-0 lead into the ninth. Lucas led off the final frame with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and third on a ground out. Anthony Porter singled with two outs to tie the game. Tom Clayton then singled to left, moving Anthony Munoz, who had pinch run for Porter, around to third, but scored with the throw from leftfield was high and went to the screen, giving the Penguins the would-be winning run.
Gibbs (1-5) was the tough-luck loser for the Crusaders, scattering nine hits and striking out four while allowing just the one earned run. He did not walk a batter. Swenson (6-2) finished allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out seven Crusaders.
Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) went 2-for-3 for the Crusaders while Lucas and Clayton each had two hits for Youngstown State.
“With the pitching we got today we should have won both game,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “Gulbransen had the best performance of his young career. Good defense gives our pitchers confidence and we didn’t walk a hitter in 18 innings today.”
Valparaiso (17-30, 8-10) will begin its final five-game road trip on Sunday as the Crusaders head to Indianapolis, Ind. First pitch of the doubleheader against Butler is set for 11 a.m. CDT.
“Tomorrow is two more big games for us,” concluded Woodson.