Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) was hit by a pitch to force in the winning run in the top of the 11th inning and Valparaiso withstood a bases loaded, one out situation in the bottom of the inning to defeat Youngstown State 4-3 on Friday evening to open the three-game Horizon League series in Niles, Ohio.
Elliott Gibbs (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) allowed just two earned runs in 7.1 innings, but did not get a decision on the day. Following his complete game shutout last weekend against Cleveland State, he extended his streak without allowing an earned run to 16 straight innings before giving up the two in the eighth.
Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) had three hits and scored three runs for the Crusaders while Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) also had two hits and drove home two.
The duo started the scoring for Valpo in the top of the fourth as Rodeghero doubled down the leftfield line. Two batters later, Quinnette singled to right-center to put the Crusaders on top 1-0. The Penguins got an unearned run back in the bottom of the inning on a one-out groundout by Eric Marzec following a double and a Crusader error.
The Crusader retook the lead in the sixth with an unearned run of their own. Rodeghero reach on an error, advancing to second. He scored on a Josh Wallace (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.) single to make it 2-1 Valpo.
A walk to lead off the eighth led to the Brown and Gold’s third run, scoring Rodeghero on a Quinnette single. Rodeghero reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced into scoring position on an error.
Youngstown State tied the game in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back singles by Marzec and Dustin Wachter. With runners on second and third and one out, Jay Clites (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer H.S.) got a pair of groundouts to keep the game tied going into the ninth. The Penguins put two runners on with one out in the ninth, but could not score, forcing extra innings.
The game would stay tied until the 11th when Jason Brunelli (Greenfield, Wis./Greenfield H.S.) registered a one-out single. With two outs, Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) singled to put runners on the corners and Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) walked to load the bases. Lenski was then hit by the pitch to force in Brunelli with the go-ahead run.
Jarad Miller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) came on for his third save of the season in the bottom of the inning, but not without some excitement. Youngstown State loaded the bases with one out, but the freshman closer registered a strikeout and induced a ground ball to end the game.
Steve Godawa (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) earned the win (2-1) with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief while Joe Antinone (1-2) suffered the loss for the Penguins.
Valparaiso (8-18, 3-3 Horizon League) and Youngstown State (7-17, 1-3) will wrap-up the series on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. CDT in Niles.