Valpo dropped a 6-2 contest to Wright State in the regular season finale at Nischwitz Stadium in Dayton on Saturday. Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) moved to within two walks of the school record for bases on balls in a career while fellow senior Mark Johnson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) enjoyed a 2-for-3 day at the dish.
Wright State plated two in the home half of the first. Sean Murphy, the leadoff man, reached on a throwing error before scoring on a Michael Timm RBI groundout. Shortstop Mitch Roman made it 2-0 in the next at-bat with an opposite-field run-scoring single.
The Crusaders cut into the deficit in the fourth. Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) laced a one-out single up the middle past WSU starter Trevor Swaney. He raced home from first when Shea Molitor (Plymouth, Minn./West Lutheran [Des Moines Area CC]) plugged the left-center gap for a standup double. Molitor's 15th RBI of the season pushed the score to 2-1.
The Raiders quickly regained their two-run cushion in the bottom half of the inning. Center fielder Ryan Fucci lifted a solo homer to left-center on a 1-0 delivery from Ryan Fritze (Woodbury, Minn./Woodbury [Des Moines Area CC]).
The mistake to Fucci was one of few on the afternoon for Fritze. The junior turned in seven innings for the fourth time in his last five starts. He allowed two earned runs on six hits while striking out three batters opposite one walk. Fritze has crafted a 2.88 earned run average with 26 strikeouts and 10 walks in those aforementioned five starts spanning 31 1/3 innings pitched.
Nevertheless, he was tagged with the loss Saturday.
Wright State bust the game open in the bottom of the eighth, tallying three insurance runs.
The Crusaders brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) bounced out to second with the bases loaded to end the game.
Valpo accumulated 24 hits total in the three-game series, but managed just five runs - four of which came off the Wright State rotation. The Raider bullpen combined to allow just one run in 11 1/3 frames against the Brown and Gold.
The Crusaders (21-29, 15-14 Horizon) have earned the fourth seed in next week's Horizon League Championship, where they'll meet Youngstown State (16-33, 9-21 Horizon). Valpo owned a 5-1 edge over the Penguins during the regular season; however, last May proved to be YSU's time to shine. The sixth seed in the 2014 tourney, Youngstown State caught fire to seize the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament.
Valpo and Youngstown State will square off at Oil City Stadium in Whiting on Wednesday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 12:00 pm CT. Links to live coverage will be available at ValpoAthletics.com.