Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) drove in the go-ahead run and Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) followed with two-run double as Valparaiso scored three times in the eighth inning to break a 3-3 tie and the Crusaders went on to defeat Youngstown State 6-4 on Friday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field for the Brown and Gold’s fourth consecutive victory.
With the game tied at three in the eighth, Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) drew a one out walk and stole second. Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) was hit by the pitch with two outs before DeBruin came through with a single into right-center to break the tie. Muhlsteff then followed lacing a double into the gap in left-center to give the Crusaders a 6-3 lead.
“We got timely hitting today,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “DeBruin got the big hit with two strikes and then we got the two-run double by Muhlsteff.”
In the ninth, Youngstown State looked to rally, as a lead-off error and a single brought the tying run to the plate with one out. Jarad Miller (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) came on in relief of starter Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.), and got a popout before allowing a run-scoring single to David Leon. With the tying runs on first and second, a groundout ended the game, giving Miller his 12th save of the season, tying the Valpo single season record set in 2001 by Justin Craker.
“Miller’s steady,” added Woodson. “He comes in and throws strikes.”
Gulbransen went 8.1 innings to earn the victory (5-5), allowing just two earned runs and scattering eight hits while striking out three and walking just one.
“Gulbransen was a little sharper today than he has been,” Woodson said. “He pitched well but we didn’t help him defensively.”
Valpo jumped on top from the opening inning. Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) singled home Muhlsteff with two outs and Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Kellogg H.S.) followed with a run-scoring single that plated Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.). For Scoby, the single extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games, the longest by a Crusader this season.
The Penguins got one run back in the fourth as Jacke Healey homered to straight away center, the first baserunner allowed by Gulbransen as he retired the first 10 batters of the game.
McCormick added a run for Valpo in the fifth with a triple to right-center that plated Quinnette, who went 3-for-4 in the contest.
Youngstown State tied the game in the seventh on a single to center by Leon that got by Gaedele in the outfield, allowing two runs to score, setting up the eighth inning heroics by the Crusaders.
Aaron Swenson went the distance for Youngstown State on the mound, only to suffer the loss (3-5), allowing six earned runs and 11 hits. He struck out five and walked three.
DeBruin, Muhlsteff, and Lenski all had two hits for the Crusaders in addition to the three-hit game by Quinnette. Healey, Leon, and Anthony Porter had two hits a piece for the Penguins.
“We’ve struggled on Fridays in league play so this is a big win for us,” concluded Woodson. “Hopefully we come out tomorrow relaxed.”
Valparaiso (22-19, 8-8 Horizon) and Youngstown State (12-29, 8-10) will wrap up their three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field with a doubleheader beginning at noon. All the action can be heard live through sportsjuice.com at www.valpoathletics.com.