Led by two more solid pitching performances, Valparaiso completed its weekend sweep of Cleveland State with 10-2 and 14-8 victories over the Vikings on Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. With the wins, the Crusaders hold sole possession of first place in the Horizon League standings.
“We got two more solid starting performances on the mound today,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “We continued to swing the bats as well. We are now making adjustments as the game goes on. I was happy to see us continue to score even when we get the lead and look to pour it on.”
Game one saw Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) toss his first complete game of the year to earn the win (5-3). He allowed two runs, but both were unearned, running his consecutive streak of not allowing an earned run to 18 straight innings. He struck out 14, including the first five batters of the game, and did not walk a batter while scattering just five hits.
Valpo’s bats gave Shafer an early lead from the first inning when Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) singled home Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) with two outs. The Crusaders scored three more times in the third to extend the advantage on four hits, including three straight singles.
Cleveland State took advantage of a Valpo miscue in the fifth for its first run without a hit in the inning.
The Crusaders got that run
and another back in the sixth as Viking starter Coty Bates balked home Andrew Bain (Indianapolis, Ind./Park
Tudor H.S.) and Frane added an RBI single.
Three more runs crossed the plate in the seventh, one on a single by Will Hagel (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) and two more on a run-scoring hit by Bain. A Robinson ground out plated the 10th run in the eighth before Cleveland State added a two-out unearned run in the ninth courtesy of a Valpo throwing error.
Robinson went 4-for-5 in game one while Paul Heinkel (Fond du Lac, Wis./Winnebago Lutheran Academy) added three more hits as part of a 17-hit attack for the Crusaders.
With 14 strikeouts, he has matched Jim Pomeroy for seventh on Valpo’s all-time strikeout list with 202 for his career. He also moved into 10th place all-time for career innings pitched with 217.0, and matches eight others for sixth place on the career list with 16 victories.
Bob Suitca had two of Cleveland State’s five hits. Bates suffered the loss (0-4), allowing six runs, five of which were earned, and 11 hits in 5.1 innings of work.
Valpo again jumped on top in the opening inning of game two. Frane had a RBI single and David Klein (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East H.S.) plated two with a two-out hit to give Valpo an early 3-0 advantage.
The Vikings got one run back in the top of the second and another in the third to cut the lead to 3-2 before Valpo broke the game open. The Crusader batted around in the third, sending 10 men to the plate, and scored four times. Five straight hits to start the inning knocked starting pitcher Jimmy Cowhy out of the game after just two innings and five batters, suffering the loss (1-4) after allowing seven runs and nine hits.
The Crusaders added three more in the fourth and three in the fifth, tallying 13 hits over the third through fifth innings.
Cleveland State scored a run in the fifth and four in the seventh to cut the advantage to 13-7 before a fielder’s choice ground out plated Valpo’s 14th run in the eighth. The Vikings would add a solo homerun in the ninth to close out the scoring.
Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) had his first five-hit game as a Crusader while tallying seven hits on the day and Klein went 4-for-5 in the night cap with four runs batted in. Frane and Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) added three hits each as part of the 21-hit attack. Robinson also had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 13 straight games, a season long for any Crusader this year.
Tyler Wynn went 3-for-5 for Cleveland State (8-24, 2-7 Horizon) while Suitca drove home three runs.
Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) got the win for Valpo (4-0), allowing seven runs, six of which were earned, and nine hits in 6.1 innings. He struck out a career-high nine while walking just one.
Valparaiso (15-19, 5-1) has now won 10 of its last 13 and continues its homestand on Sunday afternoon hosting Saint Francis (Ind.) in a non-conference game. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field.