St. George, Utah ? After Valpo rallied for six runs in the final two innings to tie the game at 12-12, Southern Utah delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh to defeat the Crusaders 13-12 in the second game of a Mid-Continent Conference doubleheader. Southern Utah also edged Valpo 11-10 in the first game. Valpo's Marc Boggio went seven-for-nine with five RBIs in the twinbill, while Kevin Kutansky had five hits and five RBIs. Jeff Mandsager went three-for-four with two RBIs and Kyle Young had two hits and three RBIs in the first game. The Crusaders tallied 26 hits on the day. Southern Utah, which began its game-winning rally with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, won the nightcap on Curt Elliott's bases-loaded RBI single to right.
Valpo (18-30-1, 6-10 Mid-Con) swept a doubleheader from Southern Utah (15-25, 7-9 Mid-Con) on Friday. In splitting the four-game series, the Crusaders trail SUU by one game for fourth place in the Mid-Con. The conference tournament includes the top four finishers during the regular season. Valpo will play a four-game Mid-Con series at Chicago State next Friday and Saturday, while the Thunderbirds host Oakland next Friday and Saturday in a four-game series.
In the first game, Valpo grabbed a 5-0 lead with two runs in the first and three in the third. Boggio, who had four hits in the game, had a RBI single and Mandsager added a RBI double in the first, while Boggio belted a solo homer (his fourth), Eddie Hannan hit a sacrifice fly and Young hammered a RBI double in the third.
After Southern Utah scored two in the fourth, Kutansky gave the Crusaders a 6-2 advantage with a RBI single in the fifth. The Thunderbirds plated four in the fifth to tie the score at 6-6. Young had the key hit - a two-run single - in a four-run Valpo sixth. Mandsager, who had three hits in the game, added a sacrifice fly in the frame.
Southern Utah, trailing 10-6 entering the bottom of the seventh, scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth to take a 11-10 lead. Chris Mower belted a three-run double to cap off the Thunderbirds' comeback.
Mower (2-1), who retired the Crusaders in order in the ninth, pitched the final 3 1/3 innings in relief. Adam Knobel (0-2) took the loss, hurling 1 inning. Knobel was relieved in the eighth by Adam Paetznick just prior to Mower's game-winning double. Elliott Gibbs started on the mound for Valpo, allowing six runs and four hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked six and struck out one.
In the nightcap, the Crusaders raced out to a 3-0 lead as Boggio had a RBI single in the first and Kutansky and Caleb Kimmel produced a RBI each in the second.
The Thunderbirds exploded for seven runs in the second on four hits and an error. Valpo began chipping away at its deficit in the fourth as Kutansky and Kimmel delivered RBI singles. Brandon Sadler trimmed the Southern Utah lead to 7-6 with a RBI double in the fifth. However, the Thunderbirds responded with a five-run fifth on five hits and one error.
Boggio, a senior, came through once again with a two-run triple in the sixth. In the seventh, Valpo mounted a comeback with four runs ? three coming on Kutansky's bases-clearing double. A freshman, Kutansky scored the game-tying run on a wild pitch. The Crusaders nearly took the lead, but had a runner thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
Kutansky (five RBIs) and Boggio (three RBIs) each had three hits in the contest.
Nick Mazzone (0-1) took the loss in relief, pitching 2 1/3 innings. Todd Evans started for the Crusaders, allowing seven runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings. Steven Stoker (3-1) was the winner in relief for SUU.
Valpo will host Indiana on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Gary RailCat Stadium.