Valparaiso, Ind. - Valparaiso brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning in the opening game of a Mid-Con doubleheader, but did not convert, dropping a 10-6 decision to Western Illinois. The Leathernecks also won the second game by a final score of 11-1. Kevin Perri had a two-run homer for the Crusaders in the opener.
In the first game, the Crusaders (9-17, 2-4 Mid-Con) put together a four-run rally with two outs in the ninth inning. Ryan Manthei, who led off the inning with a triple, was plated on a single by Mike Arensdorff. Perri followed with a home run to cut the deficit to 10-5. Back-to-back singles by John Giusti and Josh Piazza, followed by a walk to Tyler Lowell, loaded the bases, and a wild pitch brought home Giusti with Valpo's fourth run of the inning. A walk to Aaron Cameron brought the tying run to the plate, but the Crusaders were unable to capitalize.
The Leathernecks (11-20, 2-0 Mid-Con) led off the scoring in the top of the second, putting three runs on the board, highlighted by an RBI double by Jake Gloude. Valpo answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the frame on a Jon Rupno sacrifice fly.
Western struck next in the top of the fourth inning. After loading the bases on a double by Joe Pacyga, a walk, and a hit batsman, the Leathernecks' Ryan Schmidgall sent a bases-clearing double into left field, extending the lead to 6-1.
Solo home runs by Kyle Malan and Pacyga and an RBI single from Gloude in the seventh inning gave Western Illinois a 9-1 lead. Giusti singled for the Crusaders in the bottom of the eighth and came around to score to cut into the lead. Matt Trowbridge's RBI groundout in the top of the ninth for the Leathernecks set the stage for Valpo's rally in the bottom of the frame.
Harvey Yergin (1-5) started the game for the Crusaders and took the loss, pitching 6 innings while allowing six runs, four earned, on eight hits and four walks. Pat Kohorst (4-3) earned the win for the Leathernecks, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks in his 7 innings of work, while striking out eight batters. John Matlick recorded his first save of the season by retiring the final batter of the game.
In the nightcap, Western Illinois starter Clint Buchen (3-1) went the distance (7 innings), allowing only one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out seven. Eric Brauer (3-3) took the loss for Valpo, lasting 1 2/3 innings and giving up eight runs on six hits and two walks.
The Leathernecks sent 13 batters to the plate in an eight-run second inning. Steve Knapp hit a grand slam to open the scoring. Western Illinois also received run-scoring hits from Schmidgall, Dan Davy, and Pacyga in the inning. Davy added an RBI triple in the fifth inning.
Valpo pushed across a run in the bottom of the seventh for its lone tally of the game. Jeff Rickert, pinch-running after a Piazza single, advanced to second on a single by Colin Reynolds and came around to score on a base hit by Cameron.
Valparaiso and Western Illinois will play the final two games of the four-game Mid-Continent Conference series Sunday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field in Valparaiso. The first pitch of the opener is slated for noon.