Valparaiso battled back from a five-run deficit on Friday afternoon, but fell one run short of Austin Peay, dropping a 5-4 decision to the Governors in the Crusaders' season opener in Clarksville, Tenn.
Valpo gave up five runs in the second inning on three hits and an error. The Governors plated their first run on a wild pitch and Ryan Kane had a two-run double to left with the bases loaded to make it 3-0. Austin Peay added two more runs in the inning on a fielding error to give starter Rowdy Hardy a 5-0 lead after two.
The Crusaders were held hitless over the first four innings but began to find their stroke in the fifth. Jeff Rickert (Hamilton, Ohio/Fairfield H.S.) doubled through the left side with two outs in the inning to drive in Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.), who had doubled, to score the first run of the season for the Brown and Gold.
Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) led off the sixth inning with a homer to left, his fourth career bomb. Kevin Kutansky (Schererville, Ind./Munster H.S.) brought home Valpo's third run in the eighth with a fielder's choice ground out and Matthew Augustine (Muskego, Wis./Muskego H.S.) also plated an unearned run in the inning to cut the Austin Peay (5-2) lead to one.
The Governors' Brad Daniel came on to get the final outs to earn the save, stopping Valpo's comeback attempt.
Harvey Yergin (Akron, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) settled down after a rocky second inning to go 6.2 innings, allowing just six hits, three after the second. The junior righthander walked just two while striking out one while suffering the loss.
Rzepka had two hits in the game for the Crusaders, the only player with multiple hits on either side.
Valpo (0-1) will continue its three-game weekend series with the Governors Saturday afternoon with the first pitch slated for 1 p.m.