On the back of their ace Dalton Lundeen (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood), the Crusaders recorded an 8-0 win over Youngstown State in the opening game of the Horizon League Championship Wednesday afternoon at Oil City Stadium in Whiting, Indiana. The junior scattered seven hits, struck out seven, and walked two en route to his second shutout in his last four starts.
Valpo plated single tallies in the second, third, and fourth innings off YSU starter Joe King.
Kyle Schneider (Mishawaka, Ind./Penn) cracked a two-out single over a leaping Shane Willoughby to score Daniel Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]) from second base. Schneider's fifth RBI of the season gave Lundeen and Valpo a 1-0 lead.
Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) opened the home half of the third with his third home run of the season, a solo shot to right-center field.
Mark Johnson (Evanston, Ill./Evanston Township) made it 3-0 in the fourth after he sliced a two-out double to the left-center gap, scoring Schneider.
Lundeen worked around a single in each of the innings following Valpo scores. He racked up five strikeouts through the first three innings.
Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) supplied Lundeen with all the insurance he needed in the sixth. Freshman Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif./Woodbridge) worked a leadoff walk before advancing to second on a wild pitch. Reliever Josh North retired the next two Crusaders in order, but elected to put Mahoney aboard to face the Valpo second baseman. The intentional pass to Mahoney represented the 137th walk of his tenure, tying him with Marc Waite for the school record.
Edwards responded with a rocket off the left-field scoreboard that allowed Jacob and Mahoney to touch home and extend Valpo's lead to 5-0.
Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) and Jacob added run-scoring singles in the eighth.
Lundeen coaxed the 27th out of the game off the bat of Ryan Cordova on a fly ball to center. The lefty needed 141 pitches to navigate the shutout. 95 of those 141 deliveries were strikes. In the process, Lundeen lowered his season earned run average to 3.75.
Delaney led the offensive attack for Valpo with a 4-for-5 day at the dish along with two runs scored. Schneider (2-for-5) and Edwards (2-for-4, BB) also enjoyed multi-hit contests. Jacob reached base four times in five plate appearances, three of which came via walk. Mahoney scored twice, walked twice, and drove himself in.
Valpo (22-29) waits to learn its opponent for tomorrow's second-round game. If Milwaukee (35-18) defeats Oakland (10-38), the Crusaders will face UIC (28-20-1) at 11:00 a.m. CT. If Oakland prevails over Milwaukee, Valpo will face Wright State (38-14) at 3:00 p.m. CT. Check back in with ValpoAthletics.com and follow @ValpoBaseball1 for updates from Oil City Stadium. ESPN3 will continue its live coverage of all Horizon League Championship games.