The Valparaiso University baseball team had late leads in both games of Friday’s doubleheader with Youngstown State at Eastwood Stadium in Niles, Ohio, but the Crusaders couldn’t hold on to the edge in either game. The Penguins walked off with a 6-5 win in the opener, then rallied for five in the eighth to beat the Crusaders 9-7 in Game 2.
How It Happened – Game 1
- The Crusaders played from behind early as the Penguins jumped on the board with three in the second including a two-run home run by Kyle Benyo, his eighth of the season.
- The Penguins tacked on a run in the third as Andrew Kendrick doubled and scored on a single by Trey Bridis.
- The Crusaders changed the complexion of the game with a four-run fourth inning. Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif. / Oaks Christian) led off with a double to get things going and eventually scored on an RBI single by Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North). Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian), who had singled, was awarded the plate on a balk against Youngstown State starter Collin Floyd.
- The Valpo fourth continued as Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) stayed hot by ripping a run-scoring double down the right-field line, then Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) followed with an extra-base knock down the left-field line that allowed Garbella to trot home.
- Barczi led off the sixth inning with a triple, spelling the end of Floyd’s day. Sam Shaikin (West Hill, Calif. / Chatsworth) lifted a sac fly to put the Crusaders in the 5-4 lead, but after that reliever Joel Hake locked down, working three shutout innings that proved to be pivotal.
- After allowing four runs in the first three innings, Valpo starting pitcher Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) held the Penguins scoreless for the remainder of his outing. He left in position to get the win after scattering 10 hits and one walk over seven innings while yielding four runs and striking out four.
- Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) came on to pitch the eighth with Valpo leading 5-4, but the Penguins produced a run on a Trey Bridis sacrifice fly to tie the game at five.
- Valpo had a golden chance to regain the lead in the top of the ninth as they had runners at second and third with one away, but Valpo failed to score.
- The Penguins walked off with the win in the bottom of the ninth as Alex Larivee delivered a pinch-hit ground-rule double. Lou Cardona, whose pinch runner scored the winning run, had reached on an error, making the winning run unearned.
How It Happened – Game 2
- Youngstown State again struck first in the nightcap, scoring twice in the second inning as Lorenzo Arcuri ripped a run-scoring triple and Cardona singled to right. Neither run was earned against Valpo starting pitcher Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge), as a throwing error had extended the inning.
- Garbella continued his recent surge with a run-scoring double in the fourth to slice the lead in half, then Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) followed by crushing a two-run two-bagger to left to put the Crusaders in front 3-2.
- Benyo singled through the left side to tie the game at three in the fourth, but the Crusaders quickly bounced back and regained the lead. Palace launched a two-run homer in the fifth. The Crusaders had runners at second and third and one away with a chance for more in the fifth, but they settled for two.
- Tieman left with no decision after four innings (6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO), then Hayden Kissee (Indianapolis, Ind. / Greenfield Central [Kaskasia College]) turned in two scoreless frames in relief. At the time of his exit, he was in position for a win.
- Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich. / Lakeview) yielded a home run to Shane Willoughby that cut the lead to 5-4 in the seventh, but then Garbella drilled a two-run bomb in the eighth, which seemed like it could be the clinching blow.
- That’s when the Penguins put together a five-run eighth inning. Joslyn walked the first two batters, then Luke VanLanen (Pulaski, Wis. / Pulaski) came in and eventually allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits in 1/3 of an inning before being removed.
- Joe King came on and nailed down his fifth save in the top of the ninth as the Penguins held on for a wacky 9-7 win.
Inside the Games
- Shaikin’s 23-game on-base streak was snapped in the opener, but he bounced back with two hits in the second game.
- After doubling in the opener, Garbella racked up three hits and three RBIs in the nightcap.
- Rhodehouse was hit with the defeat in relief in the opener to drop to 3-5, while King climbed to 3-5 by picking up the victory. King achieved the unique feat of picking up a win and nailing down a save in the same day.
- Zack Minney was awarded the Game 2 win in relief to improve to 1-1, while Luke VanLanen was hit with the defeat to drop to 1-1.
- Barczi and Kapers had two hits apiece to pace the Crusaders in the opener.
- With his two RBIs in the second game, Palace lifted his career total to 113, moving into a tie with Kurt Gessee (1982-86) for 10th in program history. Palace’s long ball was his team-leading eighth of the season.
The Crusaders and Penguins are scheduled to play the series finale on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT. The game day and time is subject to change due to an unfavorable weather forecast. Check back with ValpoAthletics.com for updates.