Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) went 5-for-5 with three runs batted in and Valparaiso tallied at least one hit in every inning but IPFW rallied with four runs in the bottom of the ninth to record a 9-8 win over the Crusaders on Tuesday afternoon in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Valpo started off the scoring in the second as Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) led off the inning with his team-leading eighth homer of the year to left-center.
The Crusaders added to the lead in the third as Manthei laced a single up the middle with the bases loaded. Kevin Perri (South Bend, Ind./Adams H.S.) and Michael Arensdorff (Park View, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) both scored. Kevin Kutansky (Schererville, Ind./Munster H.S.) also came around to score came around to score on the throwing error by the centerfielder.
Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) led off the fourth inning with his third round tripper of the year to left-center, giving Valpo a 5-0 lead.
The Mastodons broke through with three runs in the fourth to cut their deficit to two. Chris Venvertloh hit a sacrifice fly to center and Quentin Brown added a bases loaded single while a ground out plated the third run. Sean Kirk led off the bottom of the fifth with a pinch-hit homer as IPFW cut Valpo's lead to 5-4.
Valpo added what looked to be some insurance runs in the eighth inning as Perri drilled the first pitch from reliever Travis Johnson over the left-centerfield wall for a three-run bomb.
IPFW (20-23) tacked on a run in the bottom of the eighth on a double play ball to close within three before completing the rally in the next frame. In the ninth, Ryan Keena singled through the right side to score Brown and Kirk followed with an RBI single to center as IPFW cut the Valpo lead to 8-7 with nobody out. Tony Nicting then added a sacrifice fly to tie the game before Nick Diem plated Kirk with a pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth to give the Mastodons the win.
Perri, Kutansky, and Rzepka each had two hits for the Brown and Gold while Brown banged out three hits for the Mastodons.
Travis Johnson earned the win in relief for IPFW, pitching the final 1.2 innings while Dallas Cawiezell (Long Grove, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) suffered the loss for the Crusaders.
Valparaiso (13-28) will return to action on Wednesday evening as the Crusaders host Indiana at the U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind. beginning at 7:05 p.m. The game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and www.valpo.edu/athletics.