Oakland put the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the 9th, but Bryce Yoder (Spencerville, Ind./Eastside) nailed down his fourth save of the season to safeguard an 8-7 win for the Brown and Gold on Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) sent a two-run shot over the right-field wall for his first home run of the season. Daniel Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Cailf./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]) went 3-for-3 with a double and two runs scored. Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview) earned his first win with the Crusaders, tossing 1 2/3 perfect innings out of the bullpen.
The Golden Grizzlies got out to a 1-0 first-inning lead thanks to an RBI single from Trent Drumheller. Shortstop Mike Brosseau, who smacked a leadoff double, scored on the base hit.
Valpo got the run back in its half of the second. Mark Johnson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) sent a two-out knock into center that plated Delaney.
Oakland wrestled back a one-run lead in the third. Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Robby Enslen sent a Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) offering to center field, scoring Tyler Janish. The Golden Grizzlies moved ahead 3-1 the following inning after Tyler Pagano snuck a single down the third-base line. Ian Yetsko came in to score.
The Crusaders tied the game at 3-3 in the home half of the fifth. Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) got aboard via a leadoff walk. He advanced to third after Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)'s drive to deep center went in and out of the glove of Drumheller.
Losi worked around a hit and an error in the top of the sixth to keep it a tied game. With one swing of the bat, Mahoney gave Valpo a two-run lead in the bottom half.
Johnson, the leadoff batter in the inning, was awarded first base after taking Oakland starter Aaron Dehn's final pitch of the day in the helmet. Connor Fannon was called upon to relieve Dehn who surrendered four runs - three earned - in five-plus innings. Mahoney greeted the righty with a two-run blast that sailed over the 385 sign in right-center. It was his first home run of the season.
Losi allowed the first two Golden Grizzlies to reach in the top of the seventh before Trevor Haas (Mount Prospect, Ill./Hersey) took over for him. First baseman Zach Sterry recorded an RBI double sandwiched between a pair of sacrifice flies as Oakland regained the lead in a three-run frame.
Oakland's edge didn't escape the seventh, though.
Delaney worked a leadoff walk before going first-to-third on a Ray Bartolomucci (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) hit-and-run single through the right side. With the first out of the inning yet to be registered, Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) laid down a perfect safety squeeze to achieve the third tie of the tilt. Two batters later, Mahoney put Valpo on top, 7-6, thanks to a single looped into center field.
Head coach Brian Schmack beckoned Joslyn into action with one out in the seventh. He got five quick outs, two via strikeout. He left in line for the win.
Bartolomucci provided an important insurance tally in the bottom of the eighth. He sent a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Palace to tag up and touch home.
Yoder was given the ball in the ninth in hopes of his fourth save.
The sidewinder retired Brosseau, the leadoff batter, before yielding three straight hits. A Sterry single was the last of the three hits, a run-scoring knock to right.
With the tying and go-ahead runs on second and first base, respectively, the Crusader closer buckled down and get the final two outs of the game without further damage.
Joslyn got the win while Yoder was rewarded with the save.
Valpo (12-17, 8-5 Horizon) will go for the sweep on Sunday as Ryan Fritze (1-3, 4.24) takes the hill. Links to the audio and live stats are available at ValpoAthletics.com. First pitch is set for 12:00 pm CT.