Valparaiso, Ind. - Marc Boggio's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning lifted Valpo to a 5-4 Mid-Continent Conference victory over Western Illinois. The Crusaders split the doubleheader as the Leathernecks came back to win the second game 3-2. In Valpo's victory, Sean Peickert had two doubles and two RBIs, and Tom Starck struck out 10 batters in 8 innings.
Valpo (15-26-1, 4-6 Mid-Con) rallied from a one-run deficit in its final at bat in the first game. Trailing 4-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, a pair of freshmen ignited the comeback. Tyler Lowell drew a one-out walk and fellow frosh Nick Mazzone followed with a single to center. Eric Snyder then hit a ground ball and reached base when third baseman Aaron Milliken's throw sailed over the head of first baseman Nick Simmons. Lowell scored to tie the score at 4-4 with Mazzone advancing to third and Snyder to second. After Peickert was intentionally walked, Boggio belted the game-winning RBI single into the right center field gap over a drawn-in outfield.
In the top half of the ninth, Western Illinois (19-27, 5-5 Mid-Con) staged its own comeback by scoring two runs with two outs to take a 4-3 lead. With one out, Ryan Schmidgall singled off reliever Adam Paetznick. After Milliken struck out, pinch hitters Troy Shelby and Simmons drew consecutive walks to load the bases. Clint Buchen, who narrowly missed a potential double down the third base line which was ruled foul, rebounded with a two-run single to right, giving the Leathernecks a one-run advantage.
The Crusaders took a 2-1 lead in the fifth on Peickert's two-run double into the left field corner, scoring Kyle Young and Mazzone, who raced around from first. After Western Illinois tied the game at 2-2 in the sixth on a wild pitch, Valpo regained the lead in the eighth on Milliken's two-out fielding error off the bat of Jeff Mandsager.
Valpo's Tom Starck and Western Illinois' Nathan Miller hooked up in a classic pitcher's duel for 8 innings. A junior lefty, Starck struck out 10 in 8 innings, while allowing two runs, five hits and two walks. Last week's Mid-Con Pitcher of the Week, Starck has fanned 22 hitters in his last two starts covering 17 innings. Miller (4-4) hurled 8 1/3 solid innings, allowing two earned runs and 10 hits, while fanning six and walking two. Buchen pitched to the last two batters and yielded Boggio's game-winning hit.
Paetznick (2-1), the league-leader in saves (7), picked up the win, allowing two runs and two hits in 1 inning.
In the nightcap, Boggio and Ricky McCool also calmed the bats with strong performances on the mound. The Crusaders grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first on Brandon Sadler's RBI single to center, scoring Snyder, who had walked.
Clutch hitting by Simmons gave the Leathernecks a 2-1 lead in the fourth as the third baseman delivered a two-out, two-run single to right. Valpo tied the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth on Eddie Hannan's RBI single past the shortstop, scoring Boggio.
Western Illinois led off the fifth with three straight singles to load the bases. Dane Ainsworth's fielder's choice groundout plated Ryan Schmidgall, who led off the frame with a high-bouncing single off the plate. The run broke a 2-2 tie and proved to be the game-winner as McCool (6-4) retired the last nine Crusaders.
Boggio (3-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in 7 innings. He fanned two and did not issue a walk in recording his team-leading third complete-game of the season.
McCool also went the distance, allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out two and walking two.
Boggio and Sadler finished with three hits on the day, while Western Illinois's Schmidgall, and Blake Schultz tallied three hits each. Buchen had three RBIs in the first game.
On Sunday at 11:30 a.m., Valpo will recognize its 10 senior players in an on-field ceremony. The Crusaders and Western Illinois will follow with another twinbill beginning at noon.