Valpo was in the process of digging itself out of a six-run hole in the top of the sixth Saturday at Dallas Baptist, but a line drive to third base turned into an inning-ending double play. The Crusaders settled for two runs in the frame, but the Patriots answered with three in the bottom half of the inning to secure a 9-2 win over the Brown and Gold at Horner Field in Dallas, Texas.
DBU infielder Tim Millard put his team up 4-0 with one swing of the bat in the second. Valpo starting pitcher Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) issued back-to-back two-out walks to load the bases for the ninth-place batter. Millard connected on the first pitch he saw from Losi, depositing it over the left-field wall.
Losi, who entered Saturday's tilt having walked one batter in 16 1/3 innings pitched, granted his third free pass of the day to Jameson Hannah in the home half of the fourth. The base-on-balls came back to bite Losi in the next at-bat when Hannah came all the way around to score on a Camden Duzenack double. Duzenack scored later in the frame by virtue of a Matt Duce sacrifice fly that made it 6-0.
The Valpo offense finally cracked DBU starter Dalton Higgins in the sixth. Freshman Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind./Andrean) got it all started with a leadoff walk. Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) grounded into a fielder's choice before going first-to-third on a Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) poke to right-center. Dan Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]) kept the merry-go-round spinning with a single between the first and second basemen. Palace recorded his team-leading 16th run on the play. Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) ended Higgins' tenure on the bump with an opposite-field single to load the bases.
Freshman righty MD Johnson was called upon to douse the flames, but his walk to Shea Molitor (Plymouth, Wis./West Lutheran [Des Moines Area CC]) forced in a run to make it 6-2. Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson), owner of the team's highest batting average, stepped to the plate representing the tying run. The shortstop sent a shot to the hot corner that was gloved by Millard and then thrown to second base to double off Clark, who couldn't retreat to the bag in time.
The pendulum of momentum kept swinging the Patriots' way in the bottom of the sixth. Dallas Baptist was the beneficiary of three walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a wild pitch in a three-run frame. Losi was responsible for eight runs on six hits and three walks in five-plus innings of work. He struck out two batters, but took the loss.
Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview) retired the only batter he faced. Scott Jerge (Munster, Ind./Munster) and Montana Quigley (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro) registered scoreless eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
Valpo (4-11) will return north to begin Horizon League play next weekend at Northern Kentucky (4-10). First pitch from Friday's series opener at Bill Aker Baseball Complex in Highland Heights is slated for 3 pm ET/2 pm CT. Live stats will be available for all three games.