Valparaiso battled through
three rain delays, fought back from a five-run deficit, and had the tying runs
on base in the ninth on Saturday afternoon, but the Crusaders ended up falling
14-12 to UIC at Les Miller Field in Chicago, Ill. Game two of the scheduled doubleheader was
cancelled due to rain.
“We battled in tough, windy
conditions,” said head coach Tracy
Woodson. “We fought until the final
out in the ninth and had a chance at the end.”
The Crusaders jumped on top
quickly in the top of the first inning. Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) and Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba
H.S.) led off with back-to-back singles.
After a flyout, Josh Wallace
(Bellefountaine, Ohio/Bellefountaine H.S.) blooped a base hit
on the right field foul line to drive in DeBruin. Ryan
O’Gara (Buffalo Grove,
Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) then beat out a
fielder’s choice to stay out of a double play to plate Muhlsteff.
With the wind blowing out
more than 20 miles per hour, UIC quickly answered in the bottom of the first
inning. Brandon Harwell led off with a
homer to right and Brett Schaeffer added a towering three-run blast halfway up
the light pole in right-center as the Flames batted around, scoring six times
in the inning.
(Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.)
got a run back for Valpo in the second with his second round-tripper of the
season over the wall in left to make it 6-3 Flames.
Four more singles by UIC (17-19,
11-4 Horizon) in the second scored two more runs for the Flames before a fly
out double play got the Crusaders out of the inning without further damage.
Trailing 8-3 entering the
third, Valpo’s offense continued to swing the bats, batting around in the
inning to tie the contest. Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette
University H.S.) led off with a double and Wallace walked. After a 14-minute rain delay and a fielder’s
choice, a walk to Ranko Ivetic (Schererville, Ind./Lake
Central H.S.) loaded the bases. Damon McCormick (Louisville,
Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) singled to
left-center to plate two runs and Gaedele added a run-scoring double down the
leftfield line. With two outs, DeBruin
hit a ground ball to second that was misplayed, allowing both McCormick and
Gaedele to score unearned runs to knot the game at eight.
UIC retook the lead on a
Steve McGuiggan homer to center in the bottom of the third, only to have Lenski
retie the game at nine with his blast to right-center in the top of the fourth.
Errors proved costly for the
Crusaders in the fourth. With one out,
back-to-back miscues allowed UIC to keep the inning alive, and the Flames took
advantage. They scored three unearned
runs, keyed by a two-run double by McGuiggan that one-hopped the rightfield
Valpo got one run back in the
fifth as Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Kellogg
H.S.) singled and stole second. With two
outs, DeBruin looped a single into left to plate Scoby to bring Valpo within
12-10 at the midway point of the game.
(Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) came out of the bullpen
for Valpo with two outs in the fourth, and quieted the UIC bats. The sophomore right-hander retired the first eight
he faced in a row to keep the Flames off of the scoreboard in the fifth and
UIC added an unearned run in
the bottom of the seventh before the rains came yet again with the Flames on
top 13-10 and two on and two out. This
time the delay lasted one hour and 56 minutes before Jason Ganek laced a single
up the middle on the first pitch following the resumption of play.
With two outs in the bottom
of the eighth, the game was delayed by rain for yet a third time. The Crusaders tried to rally in the ninth. Two hit batsmen and a single by Gaedele
loaded the bases and DeBruin plated a run with a single. A sacrifice fly by Muhlsteff plated Scoby and
cut the deficit to two, but a flyout ended the game.
DeBruin, Lenski, and Gaedele
each had three hits for the Crusaders as part of their 15-hit attack. Harwell, Nathan Orf, and McGuiggan each had
three of UIC’s 17 hits.
Mike Kool earned the win
(4-5) pitching 5.1 innings while Jon
Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) suffered the
loss (4-5) for the Crusaders, working 3.2 innings.
“Gulbransen didn’t have his
best stuff and with the wind blowing out today it was difficult to pitch,”
Valparaiso (18-18, 6-7) will continue its road trip on Sunday
afternoon as the Crusaders travel to Dayton, Ohio to battle Wright
State (20-21, 8-6). First pitch of the doubleheader is set for 12