Both Crusader runs came off the bat of junior Andrew Bynum, but the Crusaders fell 3-2 to Long Beach State in the middle game of the series Saturday afternoon.
It was deja vu for head coach Tracy Woodson as a Valparaiso starter didn't record the first out of the game until the five spot in the order. Two singles and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases for Ino Patron who hit a two-run double to left to give the Dirtbags an early 2-0 lead.
A Richard Prigatano sac fly to center field scored Juan Avila to make it a 3-0 game after one inning.
To his credit, Cole Webb (1-1) collected himself and blanked Long Beach State (4-3) the rest of the way. The junior threw seven innings, allowing five hits, one walk, and struck out four while surrendering all three runs.
The Valpo (1-4) offense wasted a couple scoring chances early, the most notable coming when Chris Manning grounded into an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded and one out in the 2nd inning. The Crusaders had three hits and two walks after the first time through the order, but nothing to show for it under the runs column.
Tanner Vavra led off the 6th inning with a single to right field. Michael Morman then drew a walk off starter Landon Hunt (1-0). Before John Loeffler had the opportunity to score or advance runners, Vavra was caught stealing. Loeffler grounded out on the next pitch with Morman on second base.
Just when it appeared the Crusaders had run themselves out of the inning, Bynum doubled down the left field line to score Morman.
David Hill came on and worked a perfect 7th and 8th inning for the Dirtbags. The right-hander retired his seventh batter in a row when Bynum went deep for his first home run of the season in the top of the 9th. The solo blast made it a 3-2 game.
Spencer Mahoney represented Valpo's last hope after Elliott Martin had flied out. Mahoney singled to extend the game after being down in the count 1-2. Catcher Billy Cribbs stepped to the plate with the chance to be the hero, but grounded into a fielder's choice to end the game.
Bynum and Mahoney both finished the day with two hits.
"I was more proud of the way we played today. I thought Cole made a tremendous adjustment. To get seven innings out of him today was big," Woodson said.
The Crusaders look to avoid the sweep tomorrow at 2:00 pm CST. They'll send Chris DeBoo (0-1, 10.80) to the hill to oppose right-haner Jon Maciel (0-1, 9.00) in the matinee.