Valparaiso got a pair of shutouts in the circle from seniors Alex Lagesse (Beecher, Ill./Beecher) and Sam McGee (Bloomington, Minn./Jefferson), while redshirt sophomore Jessie Marinec (Alsip, Ill./Marist) led the offensive attack with a four-hit day as the Crusaders swept a doubleheader from Bowling Green, 4-0 and 5-0, Wednesday afternoon in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Lagesse tossed the opener for the Crusaders, surrendering just four hits while striking out six Falcon hitters to improve to 11-6 on the year. Then, in the nightcap, McGee pitched a gem, throwing the third one-hitter of her career, giving up just a one-out single in the third. After a walk, the senior retired the last 14 BGSU batters she faced to match Lagesse’s shutout and move to 9-2 on the season.
“Both Sam and Alex just have really good command of their stuff right now and are hitting their spots well,” said Crusader head coach Jordan Stevens of his pitching duo, which has four shutouts in Valpo’s last five games. “Their look in the circle right now is one of total control out there, and you have to have that as a pitcher.”
In the opener, Valpo’s first eight batters were retired before the Crusaders cracked the seal on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Angie Doerffler (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran) led off the inning with a solid single back through the middle on the first pitch and was promptly sacrificed over to second. Freshman Brittany Duncan (Fairborn, Ohio/Fairborn) stepped up and drove a hard double into the left-center gap, easily enough to plate Doerffler with the game’s first run. Pinch-runner Amanda Korb (Indianapolis, Ind./Lutheran) then scored on an RBI single up the middle by senior Jordan Rutkowski (Alden, N.Y./Alden) to make it 2-0 Valpo.
The Crusaders added an insurance run in the sixth, as senior Sara Strickland (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon) led off with an infield single, advanced to second on a groundout and came around to score on a single by redshirt junior Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) which eluded the diving Falcons’ second baseman. Valpo closed the scoring in the top of the seventh on a no-doubt leadoff home run just to the left of the 220 sign in center field by Marinec, her sixth round-tripper of the year.
Seven different Crusaders combined for Valpo’s eight hits in the opener, with Marinec the only player to record multiple base knocks. Bowling Green starter Jamie Kertes also went the distance, falling to 8-7 on the season.
Valpo’s only runner through the first four innings of the nightcap came on a one-out single by Marinec in the third, but the sophomore was promptly erased on a double play. But with the game still scoreless in the top of the fifth, the Crusaders were able to get the decisive two-out rally going.
Ichiyama-Drewry lined a single into left-center which ticked off the glove of the shortstop’s leaping effort, and senior Kelsey Phalen (Batavia, Ill./Batavia) followed with a liner off Bowling Green hurler Paris Imholz that went for a single as Imholz couldn’t recover in time to make a play. Marinec then stepped in and drove a pitch to deep left field which landed on the warning track for a two-run triple as Valpo claimed the 2-0 lead.
With the way McGee was pitching, that would prove to be all the offense the Crusaders would need, but Valpo added three runs of insurance in the seventh. Duncan led off the frame with her second double of the day, and pinch-runner Hayley Bridwell (Lemont, Ill./Lemont) eventually scored on a throwing error by the Falcon catcher. A double off the glove of the Bowling Green third baseman by Marinec, her fifth consecutive hit, plated Rutkowski, while Marinec eventually scored on a single up the middle by sophomore Amanda Wisniewski (Lake in the Hills, Ill./Huntley) to close the scoring.
“Bowling Green’s pitchers did a nice job, but to our hitters’ credit, they made some quality adjustments which allowed us to score late in both games,” said Stevens. “Our hitters stuck with it and didn’t give in to their pitchers, and they were finally able to break through with some good at-bats.”
Marinec was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate to pace Valpo’s eight-hit effort, while the sophomore also picked up three RBIs as well. Imholz took the loss in the circle for Bowling Green (18-13), going six-plus innings and surrendering four runs.
Valparaiso (22-10) has the weekend off before returning to league play next Wednesday, April 11 at Wright State with a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. CDT. Live stats for the series against the Raiders will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
“This is a good way to go into an off weekend, but it will be important for us to have quality practices leading up to our next league series,” said Stevens.
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