Valparaiso ventured into Horizon League play for the first time on Friday evening and split a twinbill from preseason favorite Wright State in Xenia, Ohio. The Crusaders won the opener 6-5 before falling in the nightcap 8-7 in 10 innings in a game that went into the early parts of Saturday morning.
In the opener, Valpo jumped out to a 6-0 lead and held on to earn its first Horizon League victory. Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) went 2-for-4 with four runs batted in while Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) earned his first collegiate victory.
Rodeghero started the scoring in the first with a two-run homer to centerfield. Valpo added to the lead in the fourth with four more runs, aided by a pair of Raider errors. Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) walked with the bases loaded to plate the first run and Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) reached on an error to score Mark Schoeck (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.). Rodeghero capped the inning with a two-run single to left to increase the Valpo lead to 6-0.
Wright State got two runs back in the fourth on a homer by Jeremy Hamilton and added two in the fifth on a double and a sacrifice fly. A fielder’s choice scored a run in the bottom of the eighth to cut Valpo’s lead to one, but the Raiders stranded the bases loaded. Jarad Miller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) came on to pitch a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.
Shafer went 7.1 innings to earn the win (1-1), allowing five runs and four hits while striking out six. Michael Meintel (1-2) suffered the loss fro the Raiders.
Game two saw the Crusaders battle back from a pair of three-run deficits to force extra innings, but it was not quite enough as the hosts earned a split of the doubleheader. Valpo scored first in the opening inning, taking advantage of two Wright State errors. The Raiders tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on a single by Hamilton.
Wright State took advantage of three Valpo miscues in the third to lead to three runs. Valpo got two of the runs back with a double by John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) in the fourth and Quinnette tied the game with a fielder’s choice in the fifth.
The Raiders rebuilt the three-run advantage in the bottom of the fifth with a single and a two-run error, giving Wright State a 7-4 lead. Valpo tied the game in the seventh, on a two-run single by Brett Bivens (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview H.S.) and a hit by Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.).
The Crusader escaped a bases loaded jam by the Raiders in the eighth and forced extra innings, but a single by Gerald Ogrinc in the 10th ended the four hour marathon.
Greg Robinson (2-2) earned the win for the Raiders on the mound while Derek Smith (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) suffered the loss (1-1) for the Crusaders.
Valparaiso (5-15, 1-1 Horizon League) and Wright State (4-11, 1-1) will wrap up their three-game weekend series on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. CDT with the rubber match in Xenia, Ohio.