Valparaiso jumped out to a 4-0 lead but Purdue fought back and defeated the Crusaders 14-5 on Tuesday afternoon at Lambert Field in West Lafayette, Ind., snapping the Brown and Gold’s four-game winning streak.
Valpo registered 13 hits, the 11th time in 12 games the Crusaders have tallied at least 10 in a game, but committed five errors defensively and left 11 runners on base.
“We hit ball well again and had lots of scoring opportunities,” head coach Tracy Woodson said after the game. “We just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Valpo’s bats wasted little time warming up on the 81 degree day, as Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) laced the second pitch of the game into the left-centerfield gap for a double. Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) followed with another two-bagger on a chapper that bounced over third base to drive home Muhlsteff. Frane then took third as leftfielder Tyler Spillner bobbled the ball in the corner. A Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) groundout plated Frane, giving the Crusaders a 2-0 lead. With two outs, David Klein (Aurora, Ill./Oswego East H.S.) kept the inning alive with a double into right-center. Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) chased Purdue starter Connor Sestak with a single through the left side to score Klein, and Valpo led 3-0 before starting pitcher Austen Siwiec (Aurora, Ill./Marmion Academy) even took to the mound.
Siwiec worked out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the first, as the Boilermakers leadoff man Spillner reached on an error and two one walks filled the bases. The senior struck out Cameron Perkins and induced a flyout to end the inning without surrendering a run.
The Crusaders added to their lead in the second with one out. Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) doubled down the rightfield line and Muhlsteff followed with a single through the hole on the leftside to make it 4-0 Valpo.
Three unearned runs in the bottom of the second cut the Crusader lead to one, 4-3. With two outs, Jon Moore reached on an error by Siwiec and following a walk to Spillner, Nick Overmyer put Purdue on the scoreboard with a double to left-center. Kevin Plawecki followed with a run-scoring infield single to shortstop and Overmyer scored the third run on a wild pitch.
Purdue took the lead in the bottom of the third. With two outs, David Blount and Jon Moore rode the wind on back-to-back pitches, hitting solo homers to left-center, giving the Boilermakers a 5-4 advantage.
Valpo looked to answer in the fourth without the aid of a hit. Frane reached base on a wild pitch despite striking out and two walks loaded the bases with two outs. Robinson laced a line drive to center which was caught to end the Crusader inning.
The Boilermakers added to their lead in the fourth, as Overmyer doubled to lead off the inning and took third on a wild pitch. A two-out pinch hit single by Stephen Talbert plated Overmyer, increasing the Purdue lead to 6-4. Valpo threatened again in the fifth, loading the bases with none out, but a foul out and a double play erased the threat.
Moore led off the Purdue fifth with a single and stole second. An error moved him to third and he scored the Boilermakers’ seventh run of the game on a sacrifice fly off of the bat of Overlmyer.
The Crusaders found the scoreboard again in the sixth. Gaedele ripped a doubled that one hopped the left-centerfield wall and moved to third on a groundout. With two outs, Robinson singled up the middle to cut Valpo’s deficit to 7-5.
Another unearned run in the bottom sixth allowed Purdue to regain its three run lead. Blount doubled with two outs to score Talbert, who reached on an error with one out before stealing second. Purdue then batted around in the next inning. In the seventh, Kevin Plawecki delivered a two-run double for the Boilermakers to increase the advantage to 10-5. With one out, Dominick D’Agata hit a pinch hit grand slam the opposite way, making it a nine run Purdue advantage and close out the scoring.
Five Crusaders had two hits a piece, with Robinson driving home two runs, the only multi-RBI player on the team on Tuesday. Overmyer and Moore each had three hits for Purdue (14-12), leading an offensive attack which also had 13 hits.
Kevin Cahill earned the win (1-2) in relief for Purdue, pitching two scoreless innings while striking out four. Steve Godawa (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) suffered the loss (0-4) for the Crusaders, allowing three runs and three hits in 1.2 innings of work.
Valparaiso (9-17) will remain on the road this weekend as the Crusaders begin a three-game weekend series against Youngstown State. First pitch of Friday’s series opener is set for 2 p.m. CDT at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio. All three games of this weekend series can be seen live online through the Horizon League Network.