Valparaiso knocked out eleven hits and drew four walks, but batted just 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position in a 13-4 loss to Ball State at Ball Diamond in Muncie on Tuesday.
Jarett Rindfleisch put the home team on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first. Valpo starting pitcher Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point) nearly danced his way out of a first-inning jam. After the first two Cardinals reached base, Foreman induced a 6-4-3 double play - the team's 24th of the season - for the first two outs. Rindfleisch skied a foul pop-up behind the plate early in his at-bat that went uncorralled before sending his fourth home run of the season over the left-field wall.
Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) and the Crusaders broke into the run column in the top of the third. Mark Johnson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) and Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) slapped back-to-back hits to right field to open the frame. With one away, Palace sent a Trevor Henderson offering back up the box and into center that allowed Johnson to score. Henderson used a pair of strikeouts to work out and strand Mahoney at third.
Valpo temporarily commandeered a lead in its half of the fourth. Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) sliced an opposite-field, two-out double into the left-field corner that scored Mahoney and Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson). Edwards reached on a bunt single before swiping second base, while Mahoney collected his 22nd walk of the year. Lodden obtained his 19th and 20th runs batted in with his two-bagger.
The Brown and Gold advantage didn't last long, however.
Ball State's Sean Kennedy lined a double down the left-field line that plated the tying tally. Kennedy came into score on the very next at-bat when Ryan Spaulding clocked a two-run single to left.
The Cardinals opened their lead to 9-3 before Valpo recorded its next run. Ball State managed four runs off left-handed reliever Connor Kaucic (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) in the middle frames.
Palace drove in his second run of the day in the eighth after Johnson led the inning off with a rope down the right-field line for a double. Palace placed a single into left that brought the Crusader center fielder in from second to make it a 9-4 game.
Ball State used seven runs in its final two offensive innings to seal its 19th win of the season. Colin Brockhouse threw 4 1/3 innings in relief of Henderson to earn the win. Foreman was saddled with his second loss of 2015.
Mahoney (2-3, R), Palace (2-4, 2 RBI), and Johnson (2-3, 2 R) all enjoyed two-hit games.
Valpo struck out 12 times and stranded 13 runners on base in the defeat. The Brown and Gold have left double-digit runners on in five of their previous seven tilts.
The Crusaders (9-14, 5-3 Horizon) will turn around and prepare for a three-game series in Milwaukee this weekend versus the Panthers (12-8, 3-5 Horizon). First pitch from Henry Aaron Field in Thursday's series opener is slated for 3 pm CT. Stay tuned to ValpoAthletics.com and follow @ValpoBaseball1 for any weather-related updates. Links to live stats for all three games will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.