Valparaiso got off to a rough start in Mid-Continent Conference play on Friday afternoon, giving up seven unearned runs, as the Crusaders dropped both ends of a doubleheader to Southern Utah, falling by scores of 8-1 and 3-2 in Cedar City, Utah.
The Thunderbirds took advantage of a two-out error by Valpo in the fifth inning of game one to score five unearned runs and jump in front. Justin Sotelo hit a three-run homer to cap the inning.
Southern Utah added three more in the seventh. Trevor Dimick singled home two and Jacob Romney had a pinch-hit infield single that plated the eighth run.
Kevin Kutansky (Schererville, Ind./Munster H.S.) singled to center in the eighth to score Jon Rupno (Green Bay, Wis./Pulaski H.S.) with two outs for Valpo's lone run in the opener. Kutansky was the only Crusader with two hits in the opener as the Brown and Gold managed just four total for the game.
Kasey Hubbard (3-3) started and went eight solid innings for the Thunderbirds to earn the win, allowing just one run and four hits while striking out six. John Snelten (Ingleside, Ill./Antioch H.S.) (1-1) started for Valpo allowing all eight runs, three of which were earned and suffered the loss.
Valpo jumped in front in the fourth inning of game two. Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) had a two-run single through the hole on the left side of the infield to score Kutansky and Michael Arensdorff (Park View, Iowa/North Scott H.S.).
The Thunderbirds answered with one in the bottom of the frame on a single by Keli'I Zablan. They then added what proved to be the winning runs in the bottom of the sixth in the seven-inning game. A bases loaded hit batsman and a sacrifice fly brought in the two runs that made the difference in the nightcap.
Larry Ellenbrook (3-3) went the distance for Southern Utah to record the victory, allowing two runs and ten hits while walking none and striking out seven. Harvey Yergin (Akron, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) (0-5) was the tough luck loser for the Crusaders, throwing a complete game and allowing just one earned run and seven hits.
Rodeghero and Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.) both went 3-for-3 for the Brown and Gold in the nightcap.
Valparaiso (4-17, 0-2 Mid-Con) and Southern Utah (16-10, 2-0) will conclude their four-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon with another twinbill in Cedar City. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. CST at Thunderbird Park.