Valpo made one too many miscues in its series opener against Wright State on Thursday afternoon at Nischwitz Stadium in Dayton, Ohio. Three errors in the field and a hit-by-pitch to the ninth-place batter forced in the game-winning run and cost the Crusaders in a 3-2 loss.
Both teams traded unearned runs in the first.
Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) and Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) lined back-to-back one-out singles off Raider starter Luke Mamer. Wright State called a pickoff play at second, but the execution went awry as Mamer lobbed the ball over Michael Timm's head and into right-center field. Edwards raced all the way around from second to score.
The Crusaders spotted Wright State the run back in the bottom half.
Michael Timm reached second with one out on an error and an overthrow. A ground out moved him over to third before he came home on a one-hopper to short that would have ended the inning. Instead, the ball deflected into center and tied the game at 1-1.
Both pitchers settled in after the perilous first frame.
Kyle Schneider (Mishawaka, Ind./Penn) put the Brown and Gold back on top in the visitor's half of the fourth. The senior shot a double to the right-center gap that rolled all the way to the wall. Schneider's first extra-base hit of the season allowed Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) to score from first base.
Dalton Lundeen (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood) was rolling along until the Raider half of the seventh, but a leadoff walk came back to bite the lefty.
Derreck Garcia worked a free pass before advancing into scoring position on an Andrew McCafferty sac bunt. Lundeen got the second out of the inning, but walked catcher Sean Murphy to prolong the inning to Timm. The senior knotted the game at 2-2 with an RBI single to left.
The Raiders registered the game-winning run in the eighth on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.
Lundeen retired the leadoff man before surrendering back-to-back singles. The latter hit brought an end to Lundeen's afternoon. Trevor Haas (Mount Prospect, Ill./Hersey) allowed a bunt single to pinch-hitter Jason DeFevers, the first batter he faced, to load the bases. Haas coaxed a shallow fly out from McCafferty that forced Ryan Fucci to remain on third.
One out away from escaping the threat, Haas got ahead on John Brodner. However, his 0-2 off-speed delivery caught the ninth-place hitter on the sleeve and forced Fucci in from third.
The Crusaders went down swinging three times in the ninth against WSU closer Andrew Elliott.
Lundeen took the hard-luck loss after surrendering two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. He punched out four, walked two, and gave up seven hits. Offensively, freshman Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge) paced the Crusader bats with two hits.
The three errors committed on Thursday increased the Brown and Gold's season total to 81. Their last error-free tilt came 13 games ago on April 25th.
The 3-2 loss means Valpo can finish no higher than third place in the Horizon League standings. Youngstown State and Oakland have locked up fifth and sixth place, respectively.
Valpo (21-27, 15-12 Horizon) and Wright State (36-14, 19-8 Horizon) will return to action Friday night at 6:30 pm ET/5:30 pm CT. ESPN3 will again carry live coverage from Nischwitz Stadium in addition to live stats. Links are available at ValpoAthletics.com.