Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) pitched seven strong innings for his first collegiate win and Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) went 4-for-4 with four runs batted in as Valparaiso registered a 5-4 non-conference victory against Northern Illinois on Wednesday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Gulbransen settled down after allowing three runs in the first and one in the second, scattering nine hits while striking out five to get the victory (1-4). He gave up just four hits after the second.
“Gulbransen pitched great today,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “He survived the first inning and put up five zeros which were big for us.”
Rodeghero extended his hitting streak to 10 straight games while raising his Horizon League leading average to .416. He singled home Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) in the opening inning to cut the deficit to 3-1. The fifth-year senior added a two-run single in the third and tied the game with a hit in the fifth. Josh Wallace (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) drove home the winning run in the fifth with his single to extend his hitting streak to eight straight games.
“We have to get guys in scoring position for Rodeghero,” said Woodson. “He’s our best hitter and may be the best not only in the Horizon League, but one of the best in the Midwest.”
Northern Illinois (12-16) scored three times in the opening inning on a single by Jordin Hood and a two-run double by Pat Minogue. A double by Dave Reynolds in the second made it 4-1 before Gulbransen settled down and Valpo got its bats going.
DeBruin scored three times for the Brown and Gold to go along with three hits, just needed a homer for the cycle. Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) also had two hits for the Crusaders.
Tom Zelasko (0-1), the third of six Northern Illinois pitchers on the day, suffered the loss, working 0.2 innings and allowing four hits and two runs, only one of which was earned.
Valparaiso (9-21) will continue its homestand on Saturday with a doubleheader against Chicago State. First pitch at Emory G. Bauer Field is set for 12 p.m.
“We’d like to put together a winning streak,” concluded Woodson. “We need to put it all together this weekend to win three.”