Valpo Mounts Two Ninth-Inning Comebacks To Sweep Centenary; Crusaders Now 3-1 In Mid-Con Play
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Shreveport, La. - Valpo used a pair of ninth-inning comebacks to sweep a doubleheader from Centenary by scores of 13-9 and 7-5. The Crusaders won three of the four games in the series.

Clutch hitting by Keith Keslinke and Eddie Hannan with two outs in Valpo's last at bats in each game capped a dramatic day. Keslinke tied the first game at 9-9 in the ninth with an RBI single and Hannan belted a two-run homer over the left field wall to break the tie. Keslinke was the hero of the second game, pounding a two-run, game-winning single.

Valpo exploded for 11 runs in the final two innings, including six runs on five hits in the ninth, to win the first game. The Crusaders, trailing 5-3, came back with four runs on four hits in the ninth to capture the nightcap.

Keslinke had five RBIs and three hits, while Kevin Kutansky had four RBIs and three hits in the twinbill for Valpo (7-19, 3-1 Mid-Con). Hannan produced three hits and three RBIs and Ryan Manthei added three hits and two RBIs. Adam Knobel recorded saves in both games.

Keslinke, the Crusaders' designated hitter, delivered a two-run single with two outs in the ninth of the second game to give Valpo a 7-5 lead. Kutansky, the previous batter, walked with the bases loaded to tie the contest. Jeff Rickert, who had three hits in the game, drove in the first run of the frame with a single.

Knobel pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth for his third save. Adam Paetznick (1-3) earned the victory, hurling a scoreless eighth. Eric Brauer started on the mound, allowing four runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings, while fanning one and walking two.

A.J. Howes had three RBIs for Centenary (14-20, 1-3). Will Kaage (0-1) suffered the loss, pitching 6 1/3 innings.

The Crusaders mounted two comebacks in the latter stages of the first game. After a five-run eighth gave Valpo a 7-5 lead, Centenary answered with four runs in the bottom of the eighth to regain a 9-7 advantage.

Rickert led off the ninth with a walk and, one out later, advanced to third on Kevin Perri's double. Kutansky lifted a sacrifice fly to trim Valpo's deficit to 9-8. Keslinke followed with his game-tying single up the middle, scoring Perri. Hannan then hammered his third homer of the season to put the Crusaders in front. Jon Rupno followed with a triple and came around to score on Tyler Lowell's double. Lowell eventually scored Valpo's final run when Brian Rzepka reached on an error by the shortstop.

After the first two runners reached base for the Gents in the bottom of the ninth, Knobel relieved Patrick Paulus (1-1). The runners advanced to second and third following a sacrifice bunt. Knobel then walked David Kiefer before inducing Jonathan Ahearn into a second-to shortstop-to first base double play to end the game.

Valpo's five-run eighth was highlighted by Kutansky's two-run single and RBI doubles by Keslinke and Hannan.

Harvey Yergin started for Valpo, allowing four runs on six hits in 4 innings. The freshman struck out one and walked four.

Paetznick came out of the bullpen in both games, limiting Centenary to one run in 3 innings.

Valpo begins a nine-game homestand on Tuesday against Indiana State beginning at 3 p.m. CST.