Valparaiso used a combination of timely hitting and quality pitching on Tuesday afternoon as the Crusaders defeated the Big Ten leading Northwestern Wildcats 7-3 in Evanston, Ill.
Five Brown and Gold hurlers combined on a four-hitter and Valpo scored in four different frames on the way to the victory.
Valpo jumped in front in the opening inning. Kevin Kutansky (Schererville, Ind./Munster H.S.) grounded into a fielder's choice to score Kevin Perri (South Bend, Ind./Adams H.S.), who opened the game with a single. Two batters later, Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) popped up into shallow right field. As the second baseman made the grab, Kutansky raced home from third on the sacrifice fly.
The Crusaders added another run in the fourth. With two outs, Tyler Lowell (Lake Forest, Ill./Lake Forest H.S.) registered a pinch hit single and Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) followed with a run-scoring double down the left field line.
Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.) added a two-run blast, his first of the season, in the sixth inning that hit Welsh Ryan Arena beyond the right field wall that also scored Kutansky, who led off the inning being hit by a pitch. Later in the inning, Rzepka laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that he beat out for a single and scored Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.).
Northwestern got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the sixth as Antonio Mule doubled home a pair of unearned runs for the Wildcats with two outs.
Manthei added another Valpo run in the seventh with his RBI single down the left field line to score Michael Arensdorff (Park View, Iowa/North Scott H.S.). The Wildcats answered the run with one in the eighth on an RBI ground out.
Reynolds went 3-for-5 on the afternoon to pace Valpo's ten-hit attack offensively while Arensdorff, Manthei, and Rzepka had two hits each.
Nick Mazzone (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) (3-2) started and got the win for the Crusaders, working two perfect innings to start the game. Chris Davidson (0-2) suffered the loss for Northwestern (12-20).
Valparaiso (7-21) will return to action this weekend as the Crusaders host Oakland in a key Mid-Continent Conference series beginning with a doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch is set for noon with the game carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.