Three freshmen pitchers combined on a three-hit shutout on Tuesday afternoon as Valparaiso opened its nine-game homestand with an 8-0 victory over North Central at Emory G. Bauer Field.
“All three freshmen that threw today for us pitched well,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “This bodes well for the future for us, as all three have been seeing time at critical spots for us of late. The trio allowed just three hits and one walk on the day and we got lots of ground ball outs.”
Ben Mahar (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) started and went five strong innings for the win (2-3). He struck out two and allowed the three hits. Ryan Kennedy (Gurnee, Ill./Warren Township H.S.) came on and worked 2.2 innings with one strikeout while Zack Walsh (Batesville, Ind./Batesville H.S.) finished up the final 1.1 with two punch outs.
Valpo’s defense also helped out its hurlers, turning three double plays in the first five innings.
The Crusaders found the scoreboard in the fourth as John Loeffler (Burnsville, Minn./Burnsville H.S.) hit a sacrifice fly to right to plate Will Hagel (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.), who led off the inning with a double. Spencer Mahoney (LaGrange Park, Ill./Lyons Township H.S.) added a RBI single in the fifth, scoring Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.).
The Brown and Gold batted around in both the sixth and eighth innings, scoring three runs in each inning. Andrew Bain (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor H.S.) had a two-run single in the sixth and Hagel drew a bases loaded walk to make it 5-0 Crusaders.
In the eighth, Elliott Martin (Irvine, Calif./University H.S.) drove home a run with a single while Grant Yoder (Fort Wayne, Ind./Snider H.S.) and Tyler Weddington (Orange Park, Fla./Culver Military Academy) added back-to-back run-scoring singles.
Weddington finished the game 3-for-4 while Bain, Mahoney, Yoder, and Scoby tallied two hits apiece. Valpo registered 14 total hits on the afternoon, the fourth time in the last five games the Crusaders have tallied double figure hit totals.
“The only downside today was that we left 14 men on base and that’s way too many,” Woodson added. “We gave away some at bats.”
Sam Klein suffered the loss (1-1) for North Central (20-18), allowing five runs and nine hits in 5.2 innings of work.
Valparaiso (26-21) continues the homestand on Wednesday afternoon, hosting Ball State. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field.