Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township)'s 198th career hit lifted Valpo to a 2-1 win in 11 innings over Chicago State on Tuesday afternoon. The RBI single came with two outs to crack a tied game that had been 1-1 since the visitor's half of the seventh.
Freshman Connor Kaucic (Chardon, Ohio/Notre Dame Cathedral Latin) and Cougar starter Ean McNeal exchanged zeroes before allowing single tallies in their final innings of work.
After being stymied by McNeal through the five innings, the Crusaders finally cracked the senior in the sixth. Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) worked a leadoff walk before going first-to-third on a perfectly-placed hit-and-run from Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]). Designated hitter Daniel Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]) sliced a 1-0 fastball the opposite way just deep enough to score Edwards. Delaney's 29th RBI of the season put the Brown and Gold on top, 1-0.
Chicago State evened things up in the following frame.
Chase Matheson led off the seventh with a single. He moved over to third on a Jordan Stroschein base hit through the right side. Matheson subsequently scored on a Rob Swenson sac fly to shallow left.
Kaucic exited after seven innings. The left-hander allowed the lone run on five hits. He struck out a season-high six batters while walking just one. With Tuesday's outing, Kaucic lowered his season earned-run average to 5.52.
The game went into extras as both bullpens held serve.
Mahoney and the Crusaders finally came through in the 11th.
Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) opened the home half with a liner through the left side on the first pitch he saw from Chicago State reliever Dylan Sterrett. Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) pinch-ran for Palace, but was picked off for the first out. Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge) and Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif./Cathedral Catholic) drew back-to-back walks before moving up 90 feet on a Sterrett wild pitch.
Valpo's first chance evaded itself when Ray Bartolomucci (Concord, Calif./De La Salle)'s fly ball to right was too shallow to score Garbella. Mahoney sent the Crusader faithful home happy, however, when he scorched a line-drive that split the left and center fielders for the walk-off hit.
Bryce Yoder (Spencerville, Ind./Eastside) was awarded the win, his second of the season. The junior threw two hitless innings and struck out one. Redshirt freshman Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview) provided a two-inning scoreless bridge between Kaucic and Yoder.
Lodden smacked three hits to reclaim the team batting title. His batting average now sits at .354. Mahoney enjoyed his third straight multi-hit game after a 2-for-6 afternoon. The shortstop is on the heels of Lodden with a .346 average.
Valpo's last 11-inning home game occurred on May 2nd, 2014 in a 5-4 win over Oakland.
The Crusaders (17-21, 12-8 Horizon) will continue midweek action on Wednesday when they travel to DeKalb to face Northern Illinois (18-26, 7-11 MAC). First pitch from Ralph McKinzie Field is slated for 3:05 p.m. CT. Links to the audio and live stats are available at ValpoAthletics.com.