Valparaiso's hopes of qualifying for the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament came to an end on Friday afternoon as the Crusaders were swept in a doubleheader by Western Illinois 7-2 and 6-4 in Macomb, Ill.
In the opener, Western Illinois jumped on top quickly, scoring twice in the first and twice in the second. Matt Newquist and Joe Pacyga each had run-scoring singles in the opening inning for the Leathernecks while a Crusader error led to one of the two runs in the second.
Valpo cut the deficit to three in the third as Colin Reynolds (Crookston, Minn./Central H.S.) singled home Kevin Perri (South Bend, Ind./Adams H.S.) with two outs.
Western Illinois added single tallies in the fourth and fifth, with the run in the fifth being unearned due to another Crusader miscue. A Leatherneck error in the seventh allowed Jon Rupno (Green Bay, Wis./Pulaski H.S.) to score the Crusaders' final run of the day. The Leathernecks tacked on an insurance tally in the bottom of the inning on the way to the 7-2 win.
Quinn Leath (8-2) went six innings allowing just one earned run for the victory for Western Illinois while Kyle Obenauf (Salem, Wis./Westosha Central H.S.) worked 6.2 innings allowing five earned runs and nine hits while suffering the loss to fall to 1-2. Perri went 3-for-4 for the Brown and Gold while Michael Arensdorff (Park View, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) added a pair of singles. Joe Pacyga went 3-for-4 for the Leathernecks while Ryan Schmidgall drove in a pair of runs.
A four-run outburst in the opening inning of game two proved to be too much for the Crusaders to overcome. A three-run double by Pacyga and eventually scored himself on a wild pitch. A throwing error allowed Western Illinois to plate an unearned run in the second and a RBI double by Kelly Flanery scored the sixth run for Western Illinois in the third.
Valpo plated one in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Arensdorff that scored Rupno with the bases loaded but the Crusaders would not score again in the inning.
The Crusaders tried to rally in the sixth, cutting the deficit to two heading into the final inning. Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) hit a sacrifice fly to right and Josh Piazza (Niles, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) followed with a two-run double down the rightfield line to make it 6-4.
Rupno tried to jump start the Valpo bats again in the seventh with a leadoff triple but Bobby Mahon retired the final three hitters to earn his fourth save of the year for the Leathernecks.
Nick Mazzone (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) went just two innings for the Crusaders in the loss (5-4), allowing four hits and four earned runs while striking out three. John Paul Shore (6-5) earned the win for Western Illinois, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings of work.
Reynolds and Rupno each had two hits in the nightcap for the Crusaders while Pacyga and Travis Cheek each went 2-for-3 for the Leathernecks.
Valparaiso (17-32, 9-12 Mid-Con) will close out the 2006 season on Saturday afternoon with another doubleheader against Western Illinois (28-30, 12-8) in Macomb. First pitch of game one is set for noon.