Valparaiso opened the home portion of the 2011 season on Saturday afternoon, splitting a Horizon League doubleheader with UIC at Emory G. Bauer Field. The Crusaders won the opener 5-2 before the Flames took the nightcap 5-0.
The Crusaders received solid pitching performances all day, but were unable to get the bats going in game two and had to settle for the split.
In the opener, starter Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) found himself in a bases loaded jam in the opening inning before pitching out of it to keep the game scoreless. Valpo then took advantage of four straight hits in the second. With one out Bobby Martin (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge H.S.) and Corey Thibault (Tustin, Calif./Foothill H.S.) had back-to-back singles to left. Michael Morman (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic H.S.) drove home the first run with a double to right and Andrew Bain (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor H.S.) followed with a two-run single to give the Crusaders a 3-0 lead.
“Those first two innings really set the tone for us in the opener,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “We were then able to add a couple of runs and matched one of theirs. We did what we needed to in order to win.”
UIC scored its first run in the fifth as Jason Ganek delivered a two-out RBI single. Frane then left with two outs and the bases loaded and Steve Godawa (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) came on to strike out Matt Serna to end the threat. Frane departed having allowed just one run and three hits while striking out five in 4.2 innings of work.
Valpo immediately answered in the bottom of the inning as Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) led off with a single and stole second. After he moved up 90 feet on a ground out, he scored on a wild pitch when Flame starter Matt Heaslip was trying to intentionally walk Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.).
Valpo added its fifth run in the seventh. Chris Manning (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro H.S.) led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second. After a wild pitch moved him to third, he scored on a sacrifice fly by O’Gara.
The Flames added their final run in the eighth on a two-out double by Nick Addison. They were held in check by Godawa, who earned his first win (1-0) of the season, pitching 3.1 innings of relief, surrendering just the one run and three hits. He also struck out five.
Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) came on to pitch a scoreless ninth to earn his first collegiate save.
Martin and Gaedele each had two of Valpo’s eight hits in the game, all off of the starter Heaslip, who worked six innings allowing four runs, while suffering the loss (2-2). He also walked five, with Manning drawing four walks in the game.
Ganek and Jon Ryan were the only two Flames with a multi-hit effort.
In game two, UIC’s Matt Salemi gave up just three hits and four walks in a complete game shutout win (3-2).
“We came out flat in game two,” Woodson said. “I thought we laid back a bit after winning game one.”
Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) had two of the three hits for the Crusaders, a two-out single in the fourth and a one-out hit in the seventh, only to be doubled up one batter later. Valpo’s only threat in the night cap came in the second, loading the bases with one out before hitting into a double play.
UIC got on the scoreboard in the third as Jacob McNamara tripled to lead off and eventually scored on the back end of a double steal. A Harry Kammolz sacrifice fly one inning later made it 2-0 Flames.
Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) kept the Crusaders in the game though, striking out 12 in seven innings of work. He walked just two and gave up four hits while suffering the loss (1-5). However, he committed a pair of errors in the seventh which led to two more unearned runs, giving UIC a 4-0 advantage.
The Flames tacked on its final run in the eighth, another unearned tally, while Salemi took control on the mound. Valpo’s only other hit besides Robinson’s two came from Morman in the eighth.
Serna was the only UIC hitter with two hits in the nightcap, as the Flames tallied just six for the game.
Valparaiso (5-20, 2-3 Horizon) and UIC (12-11, 4-1) will wrap up the three-game weekend series on Sunday, making up Friday’s postponement. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field.