Valparaiso recorded its first doubleheader sweep in nearly a calendar year on Saturday afternoon as the Crusaders defeated Oakland 4-3 and 8-3 at Emory G. Bauer Field on a sunny and breezy afternoon.
With the wins, the Brown and Gold have now defeated the Golden Grizzlies six straight times in the last two years as well as 10 of the last 11 outings dating back to the 2004 season.
Valpo had to play catch up in the opener, as Oakland jumped in front with a pair of runs in the first inning. A fielder's choice ground out by Kyle Crepeau and an RBI single by Ryan Heath made it 2-0 after the first half inning.
The Crusaders played small ball for their first two runs of the game. In the second, Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) led off with a single and advance to second when Josh Piazza (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) followed with a base hit. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over and a ground out by John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) plated Manthei. Valpo then loaded the bases with two outs but could not score again in the inning. In the fourth, Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) led off with a single, stole second, advanced to third on a fly out, and scored on Jon Rupno's (Green Bay, Wis./Pulaski H.S.) run-scoring ground out.
Valpo took the lead in the sixth against reliever and eventual loser Lance Bellhorn (0-1). Manthei led off with a double off the left field wall and scored when Piazza singled him home. The Crusaders added an insurance run, which would be needed, in the seventh. Kevin Perri (South Bend, Ind./Adams H.S.) walked, stole second, and advanced to third on a ground out. Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.) singled him home to put Valpo on top 4-2.
Oakland added a run in the eighth on a fielder's choice ground out but could not plate the tying run, which the Golden Grizzlies left stranded on third base.
Nick Mazzone (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) went 7.1 strong innings to get the win and improve to 4-2 on the season, striking out six and allowing just five hits. Dallas Cawiezell (Long Grove, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) finished up for his first collegiate save.
Manthei finished the game 3-for-4 for the Crusaders in game one and would go 5-for-7 in the doubleheader.
Valpo jumped in front in game two from the opening inning and never looked back, plating a pair of runs in each of the first four frames. Kevin Kutansky (Schererville, Ind./Munster H.S.) and Manthei each had RBI doubles in the first and Perri added a run-scoring double in the second. He eventually scored on a passed ball in the inning.
The Golden Grizzlies got on the scoreboard in the third on a single by Bryan Marulli but Valpo came right back with an answer. Manthei belted his sixth homerun of the season to right field, scoring Kutansky ahead of him to make it 6-1 Crusaders after three.
Perri added a sacrifice fly in the fourth while Kutansky brought home another run with a single in the inning and the lead was seven. Oakland added two in the fifth on back-to-back singles by Crepeau and Ryan Heath but would not score again on the afternoon. Valpo added its final run in the sixth as Michael Arensdorff (Park View, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) singled home Perri, who went 3-for-3 in the nightcap with two RBIs.
Harvey Yergin (Akron, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) went the distance for the Brown and Gold to earn his first win (1-6) of the season. The junior allowed nine hits and walked three while fanning three. Kutansky had three hits and two runs batted in while Manthei brought home three and had two hits.
Brad Noel started and took the loss (3-2) for Oakland. Crepeau and Andrew Stafford each had two hits a piece for the Golden Grizzlies.
Valparaiso (9-21, 3-6 Mid-Con) and Oakland (10-26, 7-3) will wrap up their four-game weekend series tomorrow afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field with a doubleheader beginning at noon. The game will air live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and on the internet at www.valpo.edu/athletics.