The Northwestern Wildcats scored twelve unanswered runs in the first five innings Tuesday as they downed Valpo 12-5 at Rocky Miller Park in Evanston. Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson), Mark Johnson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township), Michael Morman (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic), and Ray Bartolomucci (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) each recorded two hits in the losing effort.
For just the second time in the last twelve games, the Crusaders crossed the plate in the first inning.
Edwards reached on a single with one away. The shortstop was running on a 1-2 pitch when Chris Manning (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro) popped up an offspeed pitch into short right field. Antonio Freschet, the Northwestern second baseman, got under the short fly ball but couldn't corral it for what would've been an inning-ending double play. Manning and Edwards advanced to second and third base, respectively, on a passed ball with Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru) at the plate before Kowalczyk drove a delivery to center field that allowed Edwards to score.
The lead disintegrated quickly as the Wildcats responded with two in their half of the first. Three singles - one of which was a perfectly executed hit-and-run - coupled with a two-out error gave the home team a 2-1 advantage.
Northwestern proceeded to rattle off four more crooked numbers until the Crusader pitching staff held them scoreless for the first time in the sixth.
Valpo starter Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point) surrendered five earned runs on ten hits in 2 2/3 innings. The redshirt freshman walked one and struck out one. Of the ten hits he allowed, only one went for an extra base.
The Crusader offense pushed but didn't break through until the seventh inning when Johnson, the Evanston native, smacked a bases-loaded single to right field, scoring Bartolomucci.
Morman made it 12-3 with an RBI groundout, his 11th run batted in of the season.
He collected his 12th RBI in the top of the ninth when the left fielder singled home Edwards. Freshman Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) followed with his first RBI since March 18th to make it 12-5.
The Crusaders had two on with two out in that ninth but Wildcat hurler Jack Quigley got a game-ending strikeout to preserve the win for Northwestern.
Valpo (11-15, 3-3 Horizon) sets its sights on this weekend when the Youngstown State Penguins (5-21, 0-5 Horizon) visit Emory G. Bauer Field for a three-game series beginning Friday at 3:00 pm CT.
Links to the live stats are available at valpoathletics.com.