Valparaiso, Ind. - Matt Augustine had three hits and three RBIs to help Valpo to an 8-5 victory over Western Illinois in the first game of a Mid-Continent Conference doubleheader. Western Illinois won the nightcap 8-3. Mike Arensdorff, who had five hits in the twinbill, drove in all three Crusader runs in the second game.
Valpo's Brian Rzepka finished the afternoon with five hits, two RBIs and three runs scored. Kevin Kutansky added four hits and two RBIs on the day.
In the first game, Valpo (10-18, 3-5 Mid-Con) had a five-run uprising in the first inning. After Kevin Perri led off with a walk, Rzepka and Arensdorff delivered back-to-back bunt singles to load the bases. Kutansky's two-run single plated Perri and Rzepka, and Augustine followed with a ringing two-run double off the left center field wall. Josh Piazza belted a double down the right field line to give the Crusaders a 5-0 lead.
Augustine struck again in the second inning with an RBI line drive single to left field to score Rzepka, who reached on a one-out single.
Matt Gillikin (1-2), who pitched 5 1/3 solid innings, retired 16 of the first 19 batters he faced. In the sixth inning, Western Illinois (12-21, 3-1) trimmed its deficit to 6-3 on a two-run single by Joe Pacyga and a sacrifice fly by Steve Knapp.
The Crusaders, who finished with 13 hits, responded with a tally in the bottom of the sixth. After John Giusti singled and stole second, Rzepka brought Giusti home with a thunderous triple to right center.
Arensdorff, who is hitting .354 overall, extended Valpo's lead to 8-3 with a two-out RBI single in the eighth. The Leathernecks had a late rally in the ninth, scoring two runs for the final margin.
Valpo received strong relief help from Dallas Cawiezell and Adam Knobel. Cawiezell, a freshman, pitched 2 2/3 innings and Knobel hurled the final inning. Gillikin allowed three earned runs on four hits, while fanning five and walking four. Cawiezell yielded two runs on two hits and struck out one, while walking one. Knobel struck out two of the four batters he faced.
Jon Adams (1-2) suffered the loss, allowing six runs on eight hits in 1 2/3 innings.
In the nightcap, WIU grabbed a 3-0 lead with one in the second and two in the third. The first run scored on a double play, while the pair of runs in the third came as a result of Dan Davy's RBI groundout and Kyle Malan's RBI single.
Arensdorff's RBI single produced an unearned run in the third to cut the Leathernecks' advantage to 3-1.
Western Illinois came back with three in the fourth on Davy's RBI single, a balk and a passed ball to increase its lead to 6-1. The latter two runs were unearned.
In the seventh, Arensdorff remained hot at the plate, lining a two-run double into the left center gap to pull Valpo within 6-3. Consecutive RBI doubles by Jake Gloude and Nick Simmons in the bottom of the seventh provided some insurance for WIU.
Nick Mazzone (1-1) took the loss, allowing four earned runs on eight hits. The sophomore lefty struck out two and walked two. Bobby Mahon (1-1) earned the win, allowing two earned runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. John Matlick pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings for his second save.
Valpo hosts Butler on Wednesday at 3 p.m.