Senior KC Boldt (Red Wing, Minn./Red Wing) drove in five runs, capped by a three-run homer in the seventh inning, as Valparaiso rolled to a 7-1 victory over Butler in the nightcap of a Horizon League doubleheader Tuesday afternoon in Indianapolis, Ind. A pitchers' duel in the opener went against the Crusaders, as the Bulldogs pulled out a 2-0 victory.
“The difference today was that we just came through when we had runners on base in game two,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens. “We had opportunities in game one early that we didn't capitalize on, and we did a much better job in those situations in game two.”
After a scoreless first two innings, Valpo cracked the scoreboard in the top of the third in the day's second game. Sophomore Tori Brown (Harrison, Ohio/Harrison) led off the frame with a hard-hit double down the left-field line, and two batters later, freshman Amanda Wisniewski (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Huntley) worked a full-count walk to put two runners on base. After a flyout, freshman Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) grounded a ball to short, where the Bulldog shortstop misplayed it to load the bases.
Given extra life in the inning, junior Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) battled back from a 1-2 count to draw a walk and bring in Brown with the game's opening run. After a pitching change, Boldt greeted reliever Leah Bry by dropping in a single down the left-field line, scoring both Wisniewski and Doerffler to put the Crusaders ahead 3-0. Erin Falkenberry drove in a run with two outs in the bottom of the third, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Valpo starter Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson) induced a groundout to second to keep the 3-1 advantage.
McGee pitched a pair of 1-2-3 innings over the next three frames, and pitched around a one-out triple in the fifth as well to maintain the two-run lead. Valpo then got plenty of insurance in the final inning. Wisniewski led off with a laser to shortstop for an infield single and moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt. Doerffler then reached on an errant throw by the Bulldog second baseman, advancing to second as Wisniewski came around to score to make it a 4-1 game.
Rutkowski kept things going with a hard-hit single up the middle, moving Doerffler up to third base. After a stolen base by Rutkowski, Boldt drilled a 1-1 pitch just to the right of center field that cleared the 10-foot fence and broke the game open in the Crusaders' favor. McGee set the Bulldogs down in order in the bottom of the seventh to close out the victory.
McGee tossed a complete-game six-hitter to improve to 12-5 on the season, needing just 73 pitches to complete the seven-inning effort. Breanna Fisher took the loss for Butler, falling to 3-3 after giving up three unearned runs in her 2.2 innings of work. Boldt and Rutkowski each tallied two hits in the win, while the former enjoyed her second five-plus RBI effort of the year.
The opener Tuesday was a pitcher's duel between Crusader starter Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) and Butler starter Jenny Esparza. Neither allowed a run through the first four innings, although Valpo had good opportunities, stranding seven on base in the first four frames, including a bases-loaded chance in the third. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs left four on as well through the first four innings.
It would be Butler breaking the shutout in the fifth inning, as with two outs, Erin Jackson singled, stole second and scored on a single by Lauren McNulty. The Bulldogs added an insurance run in its half of the sixth as well on a Crusader error for the final margin. Junior Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) drew a two-out walk in the sixth, while Wisniewski was hit by a pitch to lead off the seventh, but Valpo could not advance either runner past first base.
Lagesse took the tough-luck loss for Valpo, falling to 8-9 despite surrendering just one earned run and four hits in her six innings. Esparza threw a complete-game three-hitter for Butler (21-15, 7-3 Horizon), striking out 12 hitters to improve to 9-5. Phalen and Wisniewski each reached base twice for the Crusaders in the opener.
“We pitched well in both games,” said Stevens. “Both Alex and Sam threw well and gave us chances to win. Our defense stepped up in game two and helped get out of good scoring chances for Butler. It was also nice to have people step up with runners in scoring position and come through with hits.”
Valparaiso (23-16-1, 6-5 Horizon) concludes its three-game league series with Butler Wednesday afternoon with a single game at 2 p.m. CDT. Live stats will be available at www.valpoathletics.com.
“We just have to do whatever it takes to get a win tomorrow,” said Stevens. “We're not really concerned about how we go about doing it, we just want to get it done.”