Valparaiso got out to a quick 2-0 lead on Sunday in its series finale on a cold, blustery day in Chicago, but Loyola scored one run in each of the final three innings, including a leadoff walkoff homer in the bottom of the seventh, to take a 3-2 victory.
Karen Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) got the Crusaders going in the top of the first with a one-out double to the fence in center field. Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) followed with a line-drive double of her own to the left-center gap to put Valpo on the board. The freshman advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Ashley Wolter (Denver, Iowa/Denver) fouled out to deep left field, giving the Crusaders a 2-0 edge after just one-half inning.
Crusader starting pitcher Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) had allowed just two hits through the first four innings, but Loyola got a break in the fifth when Alexandra Trudnich struck out swinging, but reached first on the pitch in the dirt. After a sacrifice bunt, pinch-hitter Jacqueline Grim sent a single back through the circle to bring Trudnich around with the Ramblers’ first run.
In the sixth, McGee got the first two Rambler hitters in order, but Haley Ambrosch started the two-out rally with a single through the left side. Jenna Grim then lined a double down the left field line, bringing Ambrosch all the way around with the game’s tying run. Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) led off the Valpo seventh with a single, but the Crusaders could not move the runner into scoring position, and Trudnich ended the game with a first-pitch solo shot in the bottom half of the frame.
McGee allowed just six hits over her six innings of work, striking out five Loyola hitters, but fell to 7-2 on her freshman campaign. Amy Solava earned her second win in as many days for Loyola (16-12, 4-2 Horizon), throwing a complete-game five-hitter.
Valparaiso (18-13, 4-5 Horizon) steps out of league play on Thursday, as the Crusaders travel an hour down the toll road to take on Notre Dame in a doubleheader. First pitch of the opener is scheduled for 2 p.m. CDT, and all the action can be heard live on WVUR, 95.1 FM, Valparaiso and online at www.valpoathletics.com, which will also have links for live stats.