Valparaiso used three homeruns on the afternoon to push the Crusaders past Southern Illinois 6-5 on Saturday afternoon in Carbondale, Ill.
Valpo jumped in front in the opening inning with three unearned runs. Jeff Rickert (Hamilton, Ohio/Fairfield H.S.) reached on an error to lead off the game. Following a Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) single, Jason Brunelli (Menomonee Falls, Wis./Catholic Memorial H.S.) hit his first collegiate homerun with two outs, a three-run blast to left-center.
In the fourth, Brunelli reached on an error and scored the Crusaders' fourth unearned run of the game on a Mark Schoeck (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) single.
After the Salukis got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, Rickert hit his first round-tripper of the season in the fifth to put Valpo in front 5-1. Josh Wallace (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) led off the seventh inning with a homer to left, increasing the lead to five.
Southern Illinois rallied with three runs in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the Brown and Gold's advantage to two. Chris Crank added a pinch-hit homer in the eighth to bring the Salukis within one. Dallas Cawiezell (Long Grove, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) came on to get the final five outs for his first save of the season and extend the Valpo winning streak to three straight games.
Elliott Gibbs (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) worked six plus innings allowing just three runs and seven hits to earn the victory, evening his record at 2-2. Wallace finished the game 3-for-4 at the plate for the Crusaders.
Jordan Powell (5-4) went 5.1 innings for Southern Illinois (21-9), allowing five runs, but only one earned.
Valparaiso (8-15) will finish its two-game weekend series with Southern Illinois on Sunday afternoon in Carbondale. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.