St. George, Utah ? Tom Starck struck out a career-high 12 and went the distance in the first game and Kevin Kutansky drove in all five runs in the nightcap as Valpo swept a doubleheader from Southern Utah by scores of 4-2 and 5-4. Caleb Kimmel belted a two-run homer for the decisive runs in the first game. Jeff Mandsager had four hits, including three doubles, and Eddie Hannan had four hits and two RBIs in the twinbill. Marc Boggio, who earned the victory in the second game, had three hits in the contest. Adam Paetznick escaped a jam in the bottom of the seventh to record his Mid-Continent Conference-leading eighth save.
With the sweep, Valpo (18-28-1, 6-8 Mid-Con) moved one full game ahead of Southern Utah (13-25, 5-9 Mid-Con) into fourth place in the Mid-Con. The top four teams during the regular season qualify for the conference tournament. Each team in the Mid-Con is scheduled to play six more conference games.
Starck (3-1), who has recorded 34 strikeouts in his last three starts, allowed just four hits in pitching all 9 innings. The junior lefty yielded two earned runs and two walks in hurling his second complete game.
The Crusaders tied the first game at 1-1 in the second inning when Hannan singled home Mandsager, who had doubled. Mandsager and Hannan hammered consecutive doubles in the fourth to give Valpo a 2-1 lead.
After the Thunderbirds tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth on a RBI single by Jake Reynolds, Hannan singled and Kimmel hit a two-out, two-run blast in the seventh for what proved to be the game-winning runs.
Wes Matthews (2-3) suffered the loss for Southern Utah, allowing four runs and nine hits, while fanning five and walking none.
In the nightcap, Kutansky, a freshman, hit a two-run double in the second and belted his first career homer ? a three-run shot ? in the fourth, to propel the Crusaders to a 5-0 advantage. Mandsager doubled, Hannan drew a walk and Kyle Young executed a successful sacrifice bunt prior to Kutansky's double. The homer by Kutansky, just inside the left field foul pole, followed a walk to Mandsager, a bunt single by Hannan and another sacrifice bunt.
Southern Utah scored three in the fifth and one in the sixth to cut its deficit to 5-4. Boggio (4-5), who pitched 6 innings, gave way to Paetznick in the bottom of the seventh. A junior righthander, Paetznick had runners on second and third with one out, but escaped by fanning Reynolds and recording the last out on a fly ball to Mandsager in right field.
Shane Perkins (2-5) took the loss, allowing five runs and nine hits, while striking out one and walking two in a 7-inning complete game.
The two teams play another doubleheader in St. George, Utah on Saturday beginning at 2:30 p.m. CDT.