Six-Run Sixth Shoves Valpo Past Youngstown State in Series Opener
The fans at Emory G. Bauer Field appeared to be in store for a low-scoring affair after four frames Friday. Fourteen runs later, Valparaiso walked away with a 10-7 win in the series opener.
The Crusaders jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the 1st inning. The bases were loaded for Michael Morman (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) before the first baseman lifted a fly ball down the right field line. With Kris Moules battling the sun, the right fielder was unable to corral the ball allowing Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) to score. Andy Burns (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville [Heartland CC]) followed with an RBI groundout to second base.
After issuing a leadoff walk, Valpo starting pitcher Cole Webb (Tulsa, Okla./Union [Coffeyville CC]) struck out the side in the Penguin half of the second.
Burns collected his second RBI of the day in the bottom of the 3rd when the senior legged out an infield single with the bases loaded. Youngstown State starter Brendon Shoemake kept it a 3-0 game by inducing an inning-ending double play.
YSU scored its first run of the game after Webb walked the No. 9 hitter in the top of the 5th. Shane Willoughby came around to score on an Alex Larivee single to center.
Valpo quickly regained its three-run lead on an RBI groundout off the bat of Morman. Senior Chris Manning (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro) scored his third run of the day on Morman's 15th run driven in on the season.
Things went haywire in a 6th inning that saw ten runs, six hits, two errors, three walks, two hit batters, a pair of wild pitches, two balks, a home run.
The first two Penguins reached in top half of the eternal frame which brought an end to Webb's day on the mound. Trevor Haas (Mt. Prospect, Ill./Hersey) was called upon in relief. Haas hit the first batter he faced before a wild pitch brought in Matt Sullivan from third base. Two more runs came in on the sophomore's watch as the visitors took a 5-4 lead.
Bryce Hara (Irvine, Calif./Northwood [Irvine Valley College]) wasted no time tying the game up at 5-5. The center fielder led the inning off with a towering home run to right.
Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill./Aurora Christian) was hit by an Anthony Konders delivery in the next Crusader at-bat. He advanced to second on a balk and then touched home on a Mark Johnson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) double that hugged the right field line.
The second balk of the inning forced Johnson home and gave the Crusaders a 7-5 lead. Morman delivered a crushing blow to the Penguins when he stroked a base hit up the middle plating Manning and Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru). Hara gathered his second RBI of the inning when he beat out a dribbler to the right side of the infield.
Youngstown State drew it back to 10-7 when Bryce Yoder (Spencerville, Ind./Eastside) yielded a pair of runs in the YSU half of the 7th.
Ben Mahar (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein) and Kowalczyk restored order to the Crusader bullpen as both hurled perfect 8th and 9th innings, respectively. For Kowalczyk, Friday represented the senior's eighth save of the season, a Horizon League watermark.
Haas (1-1) earned his first win of the season after recording the final out of the 6th.
With the victory, the Brown and Gold improved to 18-1 in their last 19 games against the Penguins.
"I looked back and saw we had five two-strike RBIs. Our guys didn't give up. They put up runs and we came right back and answered," head coach Brian Schmack said.
Valpo (12-15, 4-3 Horizon) returns to the diamond Saturday in search of its second straight Saturday series clincher. Dalton Lundeen (2-2, 2.57) will throw the first pitch at 12:00 pm CT at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Links to the live stats are up at valpoathletics.com.