Cedar City, Utah - After Valpo took a one-run lead in the top of the eighth inning, Southern Utah scored four in the bottom of the frame and held on to defeat Valpo 8-5 in the opener of a four-game Mid-Continent Conference series.
Mike Arensdorff, Eddie Hannan and Brian Rzepka had two hits and one RBI each for the Crusaders.
Valpo (14-27, 6-7) plated two runs in the top of the eighth after Southern Utah broke a 3-3 tie with a run in the seventh. Rzepka's RBI double tied the game at 4-4 and Jeff Rickert added a sacrifice fly to give the Crusaders a 5-4 lead.
Southern Utah (11-23, 5-8) answered with four runs on four hits. Kory Drew's RBI single tied the game and Jason Ruiz raced home following a wild pitch with the go-ahead run. Amos Burgess, who went 4-for-4, delivered an RBI single and Mike Martin gave the Thunderbirds an insurance run with another RBI single.
The Crusaders put a runner on in the ninth, but could not score.
Tom Starck (4-7) pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs and 11 hits, while fanning eight and walking four. Jordan Smolar hurled the final 2/3 of the eighth.
Kyle Abbott (5-4) went the distance for Southern Utah, allowing two earned runs and nine hits. He struck out nine and walked none. The Thunderbirds committed five errors in the game.
The two teams play a doubleheader on Friday beginning at 1 p.m. CST.