Valparaiso, Ind. - Valpo scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to edge Saint Joseph's 10-9 in the home opener. With the bases loaded and one out, Eric Snyder hit a fly ball to medium center field that was dropped by the Pumas' centerfielder. As a result of the error, Ryan Eberhardt scored and Mike Arensdorff followed with the game-winning run. Eddie Hannan belted a homer and had three RBIs, while Brandon Sadler hammered a two-run homer and Caleb Kimmel added a solo shot. Arensdorff and Sean Peickert tallied three hits each for Valpo.
The final score was the only time that Valpo (4-9-1) led the entire game. Saint Joseph's (11-11) scored four unearned runs in the second. Quinton Allen, who had four RBIs for the Pumas, delivered a two-run single in the frame.
The Crusaders scored their first run in the third on Hannan's second homer of the season, a line drive over the left field fence. Hannan, a junior second baseman, helped Valpo inch closer with a two-run single in the fourth.
However, Saint Joseph's responded with four runs in the fifth, highlighted by Allen's two-out, two-run single. In the bottom of the fifth, the Crusaders answered the Pumas' offense with a power surge of their own as Marc Boggio and Jeff Mandsager hit consecutive doubles off Saint Joseph's starter Paul Bihun. Sadler greeted Puma reliever Mark Satkowski with a two-run blast to left center - his second roundtripper of the season. Two outs later, Kimmel pulled Valpo to within 8-7 with his first homer.
After scoreless sixth and seventh innings, Scott Mertes extended Saint Joseph's lead to 9-7 with a line drive homer just inside the left field foul pole. Once again, the Crusaders came back with a run of their own on Peickert's RBI single in the bottom of the eighth.
Adam Paetznick (1-0) retired all three Puma batters in the top of the ninth before the game-winning rally. Sadler led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Arensdorff then earned a single with a perfectly placed bunt down the first base line. The throw from the catcher went into short right field, allowing pinch runner Eberhardt to advance to third. Tyler Lowell's sacrifice bunt moved Arensdorff to second and Kimmel was intentionally walked to load the bases. Snyder, who was credited with a sacrifice fly, followed with a fly ball to medium center field that was dropped by Mertes, allowing two runs to score.
Valpo head coach Paul Twenge used seven pitchers. Tom Starck started, allowing no earned runs and four hits in two innings. Relievers Jordan Smolar, Kyle Nelson, Kyle Cummings and Paetznick pitched one inning each of scoreless ball. Jim O'Dette (0-1) took the loss for Saint Joseph's. Bihun allowed five runs on nine hits in 4 innings.
The Crusaders host Butler on Saturday in a doubleheader beginning at noon CST.