Valpo whacked 32 hits in a Friday doubleheader with Youngstown State, but managed just a split with the Penguins at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio.
Dalton Lundeen (Streamwood, Ill./Streamwood) became Valpo's all-time leader in innings pitched as the senior went seven strong in a 15-7 win in the opener. He also moved into sole possession of third place for most career strikeouts (270) while earning career win No. 20.
James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif./Los Alamitos [Golden West]) was a spark plug atop the Crusader lineup as he finished the afternoon 7-for-11 (.636) with a walk and three runs scored. Shea Molitor (Plymouth, Minn./West Lutheran [West Des Moines Area CC]) crossed the plate five times while driving in two. He expanded his league-leading total to 49.
The Crusaders amassed 21 hits in the first contest, their most since April 30th, 2010. They rattled off 15 unanswered runs after the Penguins raced out to a first-inning 1-0 lead.
Valpo batted around in an eight-run top of the fourth. Nolan Lodden (West Des Moines, Iowa/West Des Moines Valley [Heartland CC]) and Molitor strung together back-to-back two-run knocks to put the Brown and Gold on top, 4-1. Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson), and Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind./Mt. Carmel), added run-scoring hits later in the inning before Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton) capped off the offensive explosion with a sac fly.
The Crusaders didn't let up in the fifth. They sandwiched a pair of runs off wild pitches between a Josh Clark (Granada Hills, Calif./Hillcrest Christian [Riverside City]) RBI double and a Stea single up the middle that scored Kapers from second.
On the mound, Lundeen worked a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth to run his career innings total to 327 2/3 IP, overtaking Jon Gulbransen's previous mark atop the program leaderboard. Coincidentally, Lundeen also surpassed Gulbransen for third on the career strikeout list. He now owns 270 Ks in 48 lifetime starts.
Lundeen cruised through seven innings en route to his fifth win of the season. He limited Youngstown State to one run on four hits while punching out seven and walking just two.
YSU threw a six-spot up in the ninth to bring the final score to 15-7. Valpo recorded 13 hits in 27 at-bats with runners in scoring position in its 22nd win of 2016. All nine Crusaders who started registered a hit, and eight notched at least one RBI.
The Penguins salvaged the second game despite their hit column reading "0" until the sixth inning.
Freshman Grant Inman (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) spotted Youngstown State three runs - two earned - in five-plus innings. And while YSU was held hit-less in those five frames, it did use five walks to stay in the game.
The Crusaders and Penguins took a 4-4 deadlock into the eighth inning before Kyle Benyo looped a two-out, two-run single to left to put the home team ahead, 6-4.
Kevin Yarabinec retired the Crusaders' leadoff man in the ninth, but issued a free pass to Molitor. Palace kept his team's hopes alive with a laser to left field. The game was extended to Dan Delaney (Thousand Oaks, Calif./Thousand Oaks [Fresno State]). Yarabenic got ahead 1-2 on the Valpo designated hitter before Delaney corked a game-tying triple to right field, the first of his career.
The comeback bid was short-lived, however. With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Gerrad Rohan sliced a walkoff ground-rule double to right center.
Valpo (22-26, 12-12 Horizon) will wrap up the weekend by concluding its regular-season series with Oakland (21-21, 10-10 Horizon) on Sunday afternoon. First pitch of Sunday's doubleheader is slated for 12:00 pm CT from Emory G. Bauer Field. Trevor Haas (3-1, 3.21) will oppose Jerry Palm (4-4, 3.41) in the first game. WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will have the call with live stats also available.