Sophomore pitcher Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) shutout the Youngstown State Penguins over nine fabulous innings as Valpo finished off a sweep with a 4-0 victory Sunday at Emory G. Bauer Field. Losi notched his first career shutout in the process, employing three double-play balls to erase potential threats.
The right-hander was endowed with a two-run lead before taking the bump.
The first four Crusaders reached safely in the top of the first. Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) popped the lid off the game with a leadoff single to left-center field. Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) worked a six-pitch walk to put two aboard for Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), the team's RBI leader.
Palace plated the first tally of the game with a run-scoring single to left field. Daniel Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]) dug in and corked a Josh North fastball off the left-field fence for an RBI double. To North's credit, the senior settled in quite nicely after the quick two-run barrage. He retired the next three Crusaders in order, stranding a pair of runners in scoring position that made it there with no outs.
Efficiency was Losi's modus operandi all afternoon. His first pitch of the game was low and inside to Jason Shirley, but the 22 batters that followed the Penguin designated hitter all saw first-pitch strikes.
"It's no coincidence he (Losi) had the success he did with that kind of streak," head coach Brian Schmack said.
Losi sat down the first nine YSU batters in order. Alex Larivee recorded the first Penguin hit in the bottom of the fourth, but the Crusader hurler coaxed a ground out, a fly out, and a strike out to keep Youngstown State off the board.
Delaney helped provide some cushion for Losi and the Crusaders in the sixth. He led off the frame with another shot down the left-field line that went for two bases. With one out, North racked up his ninth strikeout on the day, but catcher Jonny Miller got crossed up on the third strike, allowing Delaney to move over to third base. Shea Molitor (Plymouth, Minn./West Lutheran [Des Moines Area CC]) drove in his fourth run of the season when he sent a sac fly to right.
Left-hander Joe King took over the pitching duties for North in the seventh. North allowed three runs - two earned - on four hits in six strong innings. He struck out nine and issued three walks.
Valpo added its fourth and final run in King's first inning of work. With one away, Mahoney was awarded first base after taking a 3-1 pitch off his elbow. The Crusader shortstop then went first-to-third on a Lodden single through the right side. Palace drove in his second run of the game with a single through the six-hole.
The Penguins had their leadoff man reach in the fifth and sixth frames, but both were quickly erased with double plays.
Youngstown State's best chance came in the eighth. Kevin Hix led off with a double before pinch-hitter Lorenzo Arcuri singled to center field to set up a runners-on-the-corners with no outs situation for Shirley. The lefty put a nice swing on the first pitch he saw from Losi, but it was lined right to Mahoney, who fired across to Palace at first to catch Arcuri by an eyelash for the third twin-killing of the tilt.
Losi ran the count to three balls on only four occasions after the second inning - three of which came in the ninth. He walked shortstop Shane Willoughby with two outs, but quickly recouped to get Josh Fitch to ground out to third for the final out of the game.
The sophomore yielded just four hits and three walks, and struck out four batters. 79 of Losi's 112 pitches were strikes in a dominant outing that shrunk his earned run average from 5.91 to 4.15.
Palace boosted his RBI total to 29 while lifting his average to .354. Lodden finished 1-for-3 and reached base twice with a pair of walks. He swiped his third bag of the season in the fifth inning. Mahoney registered two runs to increase his season total to 22, just one behind Lodden for the team lead.
Valpo (7-12, 4-2 Horizon) will hit the road Wednesday to face Chicago State (6-15) at Cougar Stadium. Ellis Foreman (1-1, 4.11) will get the ball in the 3:00 pm CT first pitch. WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will carry the action live. Be sure to follow @Valpobaseball1 for in-game updates.