Valparaiso scored in seven of its eight trips to the plate on Friday morning at a windy Emory G. Bauer Field and defeated Youngstown State 11-1 for its sixth straight victory.
Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) went eight solid innings, allowing just one run and five hits for the victory (2-1), walking just one and striking out four.
“It was a good day for Justin to pitch,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “He threw the ball over the plate and their big hitters are all left-handed. With the wind whipping straight in from right it was definitely to his advantage and he used it.”
Valpo took advantage of the wind in the first couple of innings, jumping out to the lead. Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) led the game off with a walk and Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.) followed with a bunt single. Chris Manning (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro H.S.) laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases. Will Hagel (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) laced a single which scored a pair of runs, giving Valpo the lead before Corey Thibault (Tustin, Calif./Foothill H.S.) added a wind-blown infield single to plate Manning with the third run of the inning.
Youngstown State answered with a run in the second as Jeremy Banks doubled and Craig Goubeaux delivered a two-out single, cutting the Valpo lead to 3-1.
The Crusaders added two more in the bottom of the second. A pair of walks put two men aboard and Manning popped up in the infield which the wind blew around before the ball was eventually dropped for an error, scoring both runners.
“We put the ball into play and forced them to make some plays in the first couple of innings,” Woodson said. “They weren’t able to make them and then we were able to build on our lead.”
The Penguins threatened in the third, putting runners on the corners with only one out, but Banks hit into a double play that Michael Morman (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic H.S.) and Andrew Bain (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor H.S.) turned in the middle of the diamond.
“That double play was huge for us,” Woodson added. “I thought it was the turning point in the game.”
Frane cruised through the middle innings, retiring 11 straight hitters from the third through seventh innings beginning with that double play ball.
Valpo manufactured a run in the fourth as Morman walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, stole third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gaedele. Bobby Martin (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge H.S.) tripled home Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) with two outs in the fifth and Thibault followed with a run-scoring double, increasing the lead to 8-1.
Gaedele tripled in the sixth and scored on a Scoby sacrifice fly in the sixth before Martin singled home Hagel with the 10th run of the game in the seventh. Hagel delivered the final RBI with a double in the eighth.
Hagel finished the day with his first three-hit game of the season, driving home three runs as well for the third time this year. Martin and Thibault each had two hits and two runs batted in as well, as Valpo tallied 12 hits on the afternoon. Gaedele scored three times, drawing a pair of walks in addition to his triple.
Goubeaux had two of Youngstown State’s five hits on the afternoon to lead the Penguin attack.
Bill Turosky started and suffered the loss (1-1) for the Penguins, allowing eight runs, six of which were earned, and six hits in five innings of work. He walked four and struck out just two.
Valparaiso (12-21, 7-3 Horizon), winner of nine of its last 11 games, and Youngstown State (8-23, 3-4) will close out their three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader. First pitch of game one is set for noon at Emory G. Bauer Field.