Cole Webb earned his first Horizon League win of the season Friday as five Crusaders recorded multi hits in a 9-2 victory over the Youngstown State Penguins at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio.
Kyle Schneider put Valpo on the scoreboard in the top of the second inning after he dropped a blooper into center off Penguin starter Blake Aquadro to score Spencer Mahoney. The RBI was Schneider's fourth of the season.
At first it appeared as though the Crusaders were going to give that run - and possibly more - right back in the home half of the second as a leadoff walk and two singles loaded the bases for Youngstown State with no one out. But Webb got catcher Marcus Heath to chase for the first out before coaxing Kevin Hix to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Valpo stayed on the offensive in the 3rd inning, tacking on a run via three consecutive two-out singles.
Webb (3-5) kept Youngstown State from scoring until the 7th thanks in part to battery mate Billy Cribbs. Cribbs erased three would-be base stealers; one in the first inning, another in the third, and the last in the sixth.
The junior was not as precise as he's been in recent starts - as evidenced by twelve baserunners allowed - but Webb didn't need to be as the offense provided him with ample run support.
Valpo was cruising until standout Drew Dosch represented the tying run at the plate in that 7th inning. With runners on first and second, Ben Mahar got the Penguins' third baseman to ground out to second to end the frame.
Webb's final line was 6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. His earned run average actually increased to 1.97 with Friday's outing.
Things got out of hand once Youngstown State skipper Steve Gillispie removed Aquadro (2-5) from the game. A highly flammable bullpen was partially responsible for a ruinous top of the 8th inning. Four Crusaders crossed the plate in an inning that saw two hits, two walks, and three Youngstown errors.
By the time the smoke cleared, Valparaiso sat comfortably with a 9-2 lead.
Mahar worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames while Ryan Kennedy finished the game with a quick 9th inning.
Andrew Bain finished with three hits, while Tanner Vavra, John Loeffler, Chris Manning and Schneider each recorded two.
"I liked the way we swung the bats today. Cole battled even though he didn't have his best stuff. Defensively, we were solid," head coach Tracy Woodson said.
With the 9-2 win, Valparaiso (12-19, 3-7 HL) picked up a game on Youngstown State (9-24, 5-5) in the standings.
The Crusaders will send Chris DeBoo (2-5, 4.64) to the hill tomorrow versus Patrick O'Brien (2-3, 3.83) at 1:00 pm ET/12:00 pm CT at Eastwood Field.