Valparaiso saw the 2006 season come to a close on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders were on the short end of a pair of one-run ball games, dropping a doubleheader to Western Illinois 4-3 and 3-2 in Macomb, Ill.
The Crusaders jumped in front in the top of the first of the opener. Matthew Augustine (Muskego, Wis./Muskego H.S.) singled home Michael Arensdorff (Park View, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) and Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) later scored on the back end of a double steal attempt.
The Leathernecks answered with two in the second on back-to-back RBI hits by Nick Simmons and Mike Triumph. Travis Check then led off the bottom of the third with a homer to left-center as Western Illinois took its first lead of the day.
Manthei tied it at three with his team-leading ninth homerun of the season to leftfield to lead off the fourth but Matt Newquist's homer in the fifth provided the winning run for the hosts.
Ryan Schmidgall (5-4) went seven innings for the win for the Leathernecks, scattering six hits and three runs while fanning six without a walk. Harvey Yergin (Akron, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) went 6.1 innings for the Brown and Gold, suffering the loss to fall to 2-8 on the year.
Manthei and Arensdorff each had two hits for Valpo while four different Leathernecks had two hits for the Leathernecks.
In the series and season finale, Western Illinois jumped in front with two in the second and another in the third before Valpo rallied. Manthei's single up the middle plated both Arensdorff and Kevin Perri (South Bend, Ind./Adams H.S.), but the Crusaders would leave runners on second and third to end the threat.
Bobby Mahon (5-5) went five innings for the win for Western Illinois (30-30, 14-8 Mid-Con), as he struck out nine and allowed just five hits. Matt Gillikin (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton H.S.) went the distance for the Brown and Gold, allowing seven hits and striking out two while finishing the season 1-4.
Valparaiso closes out the 2006 season with a 17-34 record overall and a 9-14 mark in the Mid-Con.