Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township)'s solo shot on the first pitch of the day from UWM starter Brian Keller was all Dalton Lundeen (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood) needed as the junior spun a three-hit shutout in Valpo's 6-0 series-opening win over Milwaukee at Emory G. Bauer Field on Friday.
Lundeen's command was sharp all afternoon as he established his upper 80's fastball on both sides of the plate. He summoned nine ground ball outs and 12 fly outs. More importantly, he elicited contact early in at-bats, which enabled him to go the distance.
Panther outfielder Luke Meeteer reached second base on a fielding error in left to open the game. He advanced to third on a soft grounder in the next at-bat. Lundeen zeroed in and induced a harmless ground ball to third off the bat of Player of the Year front-runner Sam Koenig. Meeteer was left stranded 90 feet from home after Lundeen got Mitch Ghelfi to fly out to left for the third out.
From that point forward, Lundeen didn't allow Milwaukee to pose a serious threat.
Two Panthers got aboard in the fourth but the 2014 Horizon League Co-Pitcher of the Year quickly took the wind out of the visitor's sails with a pair of fly outs early in the count to end the side.
For a good portion of the afternoon, it appeared as though Mahoney's round-tripper would stand as the only run scored. However, Valpo broke through with five runs in the bottom of the eighth to give Lundeen plenty of breathing room.
Ray Bartolomucci (Concord, Calif./De La Salle) shot a one-out, opposite-field single to right to get the ball rolling. After a Dustin Beasley (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point [Cisco]) hit-by-pitch, Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) smacked a two-run double to the right-field warning track. Clark scored three batters later on a Mahoney base hit.
Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) got in on the fun with a two-run single to make it 6-0. The Panthers finally escaped the inning when the home plate umpire ruled Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) missed third base on what would've been another run-scoring hit.
Lundeen finished off his signature outing with a 1-2-3 ninth inning, and, in the process, earned his first career nine-inning shutout. He threw 117 pitches on the day, 83 for strikes. He struck out five and scattered three hits. Following Ghelfi's one-out single in the fourth, a seventh-inning leadoff walk to the Milwaukee backstop in his next plate appearance represented Lundeen's last blemish of the day.
Mahoney enjoyed his fourth multi-hit game in the team's last five tilts. His 3-for-5 Friday raised his season average to .345. Entering Friday with 198 career hits, his 200th came in the fourth inning on a shot up the middle that was too hot to handle for Panther shortstop Ryan McShane. Mahoney is now just the 11th player in school history to reach the 200-hit plateau. With three more knocks, he'll move into Valpo's top-ten for career hits.
Valpo (18-22, 13-8 Horizon) and Milwaukee (26-16, 10-11 Horizon) will continue its series Saturday at noon at Emory G. Bauer Field. The Crusaders will send Mario Losi (4-1, 4.27) to the hill to clinch the series opposite Milwaukee right-hander Joe Pavlovich (4-1, 3.21). Tommy Mantice and Aimee Van Der Heyden will have the call live on UStream with live stats also available. Links to both are at ValpoAthletics.com.