Junior Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) launched a pair of home runs and Shea Molitor (Plymouth, Minn./West Lutheran [Des Moines Area CC]) slashed a three-run triple Sunday, but New Orleans rallied for a 9-8 win over the Crusaders at Maestri Field.
Molitor put the Crusaders on top 3-0 before Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) delivered his first offering of the day. The Crusader third baseman plugged the left-center field gap with a 1-2 pitch from Jordan Priddle that emptied the bases. It was Molitor's first triple in a Valpo uniform.
Valpo led by the same 3-0 margin until Palace tagged Priddle with a leadoff solo home run in the third. The blast to left field was his second of the season.
The lead was sliced in half in the home half of the third. Sam Capielano logged an RBI groundout before Aaron Palmer singled home Aaron Dean. The second Privateer run was manufactured entirely with two outs.
New Orleans got to Losi again in a sloppy fourth inning to capture its first lead of the afternoon. Hezekiah Randolph and Kyle Bracey registered back-to-back singles before coming around to score on a Preston March double to left. Two batters later, Jay Robinson slapped a one-out single to left that ended Losi's outing. Alex Dirienzo (Somerset, Pa./Somerset [Akron]) took over on the hill and surrendered an RBI single to Ryan Calloway. A Capielano sac fly capped a four-run fourth for the Privateers.
The Crusaders went down in order in their half of the fifth, while New Orleans was gifted an earned, insurance run. Palmer drew a leadoff walk and then first-to-third when a pickoff attempt went awry. With Bracey in the batter's box, a Dirienzo delivery eluded Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill./Aurora Christian), allowing Palmer to race home on the passed ball to make it 7-4.
Hanson atoned for the miscue in the seventh when he led off with a dinger on the first pitch he saw from reliever Keaton Brewer. The round-tripper was the first of Hanson's collegiate career. Freshman Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind./Andrean) followed with a triple to right-center field to continue the Crusader surge. Dawson crossed the plate three batters later on a Dan Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]) fielder's choice.
The 7-6 score didn't last long though. Marsh torched Valpo again with a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to push the New Orleans' lead back to three runs.
Molitor opened the eighth with an opposite-field double. He moved over to third base on a wild pitch before scoring on a Luke Syens (Burlington, Wis./Burlington) RBI ground out. Sophomore Luke VanLanen (Pulaski, Wis./Pulaski) fired a 1-2-3 bottom half to keep it a 9-7 affair.
Privateer closer Daniel Martinez retired the first two Crusaders he faced in the ninth, but Palace took the right-hander yard for his second bomb of the day, a solo strike that made it 9-8. Martinez, however, buckled down to retire Delaney for the final out of the game.
Valpo (1-5) will continue its tour of the Pelican State Tuesday as it opens a two-game set with Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks (3-3) are coming off a series win over Western Carolina this past weekend.