Valparaiso rallied from an eight-run deficit with eight runs in the bottom of the seventh but Indiana plated a pair in the top of the ninth as the Hoosiers defeated the Crusaders 13-11 on Wednesday evening at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind.
The loss is the second straight for the Crusaders in the ninth inning as Valpo fell to IPFW 9-8 on Tuesday night as well.
Valpo jumped on the board in the opening inning, all with two outs. Kevin Kutansky (Schererville, Ind./Munster H.S.) singled and went to third on another base hit by Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.). Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) continued to stay hot, lacing a double to leftfield to score both baserunners.
Indiana bounced back with a run in the second on a run-scoring single by Tyler Cox to bring home Ryan Parker with two outs. The Hoosiers then tied it in the third, again with two outs, as Jon Fixler doubled to the left-centerfield gap to score Ben Greenspan.
Fixler added his second RBI of the game in the top of the fifth to plate Reggie Watson with a two-out single as the Hoosiers took the lead with an unearned run, the first of four in the inning. A bases loaded walk to Parker followed by a two-run double off the bat of Andrew Means made it 6-2 Indiana after five.
The Hoosiers added another unearned run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Watson.
Valpo bounced back with a run in the bottom of the sixth as Tyler Lowell (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest H.S.) singled to left and Reynolds just beat the throw to the plate scoring from second.
Indiana immediately responded with another four-run inning, this time in the seventh. A RBI single by Haas and a three-run inside-the-park homer to dead centerfield off the bat of Watson increased the Hoosier lead to 11-3 at stretch time.
Valparaiso battled back in the bottom of the seventh, erasing the eight-run deficit. A bases loaded wild pitch plated Jon Rupno (Green Bay, Wis./Pulaski H.S.) with the first run in the inning. Kutansky then delivered a bases loaded single up the middle to score John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) and Kevin Perri (South Bend, Ind./Adams H.S.). Another bases filled single by Manthei cut the deficit to four, 11-7. Another wild pitch plated Kutansky and a RBI ground out by Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.), the second out of the inning, made it 11-9. Rupno tied the game with a two-run triple to right as Valpo sent 12 batters to the plate in the inning on the way to tying the game at 11.
The Hoosiers pulled the game out in the ninth as pinch hitter Zach Boswell drilled a double to left field to score two runs as showers began to fall. It became a driving rain storm by the bottom of the ninth as the Crusaders tried to rally again. Rupno got his third hit in as many at bats with two outs but Andrew Means made a diving catch in right-center off the bat of Giusti to end the game.
Joe Vicini (5-3) earned the win in relief for Indiana (19-28), throwing 2.2 scoreless innings after Valpo's rally. Patrick Bracco (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick H.S.) suffered the loss for the Crusaders and falls to 0-1.
Perri, Kutansky, and Rupno all had three hits for the Crusaders as Valpo banged out 15 for the game. The Hoosiers also tallied 15 in the contest with each starter accounting for at least one.
Valparaiso (13-28) will return to the diamond on Saturday afternoon to begin a key four-game Mid-Continent Conference series with Chicago State. First pitch of Saturday's doubleheader is set for noon with the action carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.