Valparaiso played from behind the whole game on Sunday
afternoon in Chicago, Ill., and despite a seventh-inning rally,
could not complete the comeback as the Crusaders fell 4-3 to UIC in Horizon
The Flames jumped out on
top right away in the first inning Sunday.
Melinda Macias led off the frame with a double and two batters later,
Brooke Frydendall tallied an infield single.
Crusader pitcher Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher)
then gave up a three-run homer down the left-field line to her counterpart in
the circle, Ashley Hewett, that put the Flames on top 3-0.
Valpo cut a run off of
its deficit in the third inning. With
one out, Sara Strickland (Phoenix, Ariz./Horizon)
walked, and then promptly stole second, advancing to third when an overthrow
into center field was misplayed by the Flames’ outfielder. Jordan
Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) brought her classmate home with a sacrifice
fly to deep left field to move to within 3-1.
UIC added a key insurance
tally in the bottom of the sixth inning, as a leadoff walk came around to score
on a two-out single by Frydendall to push the Flame lead to 4-1. But the Crusaders, who had just three hits in
the first six innings, got back-to-back singles from Jessie Marinec (Alsip,
Ill./Marist) and Lisa DeBruzzi (Carlisle,
Mass./Concord-Carlisle) to lead off the seventh, and when Tori Brown (Harrison, Ohio/Harrison) walked, Valpo was bringing the
potential go-ahead run to the dish with nobody out.
Devin Miller, who earned
the win against the Crusaders in the series opener Saturday, entered the game
at pitcher and promptly set down the first two Valpo batters she faced, KC Boldt (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing) and
Strickland, on strikes. Rutkowski came
up with a hard-hit single into center field to score the two lead runners and
cut the deficit to just one run, but the comeback effort fell just short as Joylyn Ichiyama’s (Torrance,
Calif./Redondo Union) grounder to the left side was just taken to third base
for the force play to end the game.
No Crusader would come up
with multiple hits on the day, but Rutkowski went 1-for-1 with three RBIs, a
walk, a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly.
Lagesse took the loss in the circle, falling to 11-6 after going just
one-plus inning. Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) came in
and tossed 4.2 innings of one-run ball.
For UIC (11-29, 4-6 Horizon), Hewett improved to 6-14 while Miller
earned her first save of the year.
“You’ve got to credit Hewett
for turning things around today and putting together a good pitching
performance,” said Crusader head coach Randy
Schneider. “I thought she was
throwing the ball better than she did yesterday. For us, I think starting out down three runs
and not hitting the ball early hurt us, forcing us to try to play catch-up and
change our strategy. I give our kids a
lot of credit for the comeback in the seventh inning, but I’m disappointed we
didn’t complete the series. We gave up
two multiple-run innings in the series and it cost us two losses. I think if we had spread out the runs a
little bit better it would have been a different story.”
7-3 Horizon) steps out of league play for the final time in the regular season
on Wednesday afternoon as the Crusaders make the short jaunt east to South Bend
to face Notre Dame in a single game.
First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. CDT.