Valparaiso jumped out to a five run lead midway through the game on Thursday evening, but UIC rallied, plating the winning runs in the eighth inning to defeat the Crusaders 13-10 at Les Miller Field in Chicago, Ill.
Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) and Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) both had three hits and Gaedele homered twice for the Crusaders, but the Brown and Gold could not overcome five errors defensively.
“We had the lead and just gave it away,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “We swung the bats well early but in the last four innings we gave away at bats. Defense was not very good and that hurt us as well.”
After a 29 minute rain delay before the start of the game, Valpo found the scoreboard in its first at bat. Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) and Gaedele registered back-to-back one out singles. After the two runners moved up 90 feet following a passed ball, Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) loaded the bases with a two out walk. A bounding ball up the middle off the bat of Will Hagel (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) was misplayed by the shortstop for an error, allowing Frane to cross the score. The Crusaders were unable to plate any more runners in the inning though, stranding the bases loaded.
UIC scored a pair of runs in the second, both coming with two outs. Andy Leonard’s single to right scored Chris Rutta to tie the game, and Leonard scored one batter later on a double to the right-centerfield gap by Ty Rubio. Two walks later, the Flames loaded the bases before Bryce Shafer’s (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) third strikeout of the game ended the inning without any more damage.
Gaedele wasted little time retying the game, taking the second pitch of the third inning and hitting a blast deep beyond the leftfield wall for his sixth round-tripper of the season. O’Gara followed with a double just inside the third base bag and moved to third on a single through the right side by Robinson. Hagel gave Valpo the lead 3-2 with a double just to the left of the 401 mark in dead center, scoring O’Gara and moving Robinson to third. With one out Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) drew a walk to load the bases, chasing UIC starter Michael Heesch from the mound. Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) then added to the lead with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Robinson, and giving the Crusaders a 4-2 advantage after two-and-a-half innings.
The Flames answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the third to retake a 5-4 lead. A single to center by Leonard with the bases loaded scored the first run and two more runs scored on a bunt single by Steve McGuiggan combined with a throwing error by Shafer.
Valpo’s offense picked back up with two outs in the fourth. O’Gara went the opposite way with his fifth homerun of the year to tie the game at five. Robinson followed with a single into left-center and Hagel followed with a double to the same gap that found its way to the wall, scoffing Robinson to give the Crusaders a 6-5 lead.
The Brown and Gold continued to add to its lead in the fifth. Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) hit a ball deep that the leftfielder Rutta jumped for, only to have the ball bounce off of his glove and over the fence for a two-run homer, giving Valpo an 8-5 lead. After a walk to David Klein (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East H.S.), Gaedele hit a ball to left-center that also ricocheted off of Rutta’s glove and over the fence for his second homer of the game.
UIC bounced back in the bottom of the fifth, all with two outs. Back-to-back doubles by Rubio and McGuiggan scored a run and Jason Ganek followed with a RBI single. Another RBI hit by Matt Serna and a throwing error by Muhlsteff allowed two more runs to score, pulling the Flames within 10-9 and ending the day for Shafer. Tyler Deetjen (Saint Charles, Ill./East H.S.) came on to get the final out of the fifth, preserving the lead.
The Flames tied the game in the sixth as Rubio’s single up the middle scored Andy Leonard with two outs.
UIC took the lead in the bottom of the eighth as Joe Betcher drew a two out walk. He then took off for second and Deetjen’s pick off attempt sailed into the dirt, allowing Betcher to race around and score the go ahead run. Two singles and a McGuiggan double later, and the Flames added two more insurance runs heading into the ninth. Valpo went down in order one last time, failing to score in each of the last four innings.
Valpo finished the game with 14 hits, all of which came from the top six hitters in the Crusader lineup. McGuiggan and Rubio led UIC’s 16-hit attack with four hits each with McGuiggan also driving home four runs.
Brad Riegler earned the win (3-2) in relief for the Flames, pitching the final 6.2 innings. Deetjen suffered the loss (3-3) for the Crusaders, working the final 3.1 innings.
Valparaiso (21-29, 8-9 Horizon) and UIC (21-27, 14-8) are scheduled to wrap up the 2010 regular season on Friday with a doubleheader at Les Miller Field. First pitch of game one is set for 1:05 p.m.