Valparaiso rallied from a three-run deficit with five runs in the seventh on the way to a 10-7 victory over Oakland on Friday afternoon in Rochester, Mich. in Mid-Continent Conference action.
The Crusaders pounded out 17 hits in the victory, 16 of which were singles.
Valparaiso jumped in front in the second with three straight singles. Jason Brunelli (Greenfield, Wis./Greenfield H.S.) led of the inning with a bad hop single through the right side and Josh Piazza (Glenview, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) followed with a hit. Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) put Valpo on top with his single to center, but that would be all the damage the Crusaders would manage in the frame.
Oakland answered in the bottom of the inning. With the bases loaded, back-to-back sacrifice flies gave the hosts a 2-1 advantage. An unearned run in the bottom of the third, scoring on a wild pitch, put the Golden Grizzlies in front 3-1, but the second runner trying to score on the play was thrown out at the plate.
The Crusaders tied the game in the fourth with a walk and four singles. Rzepka drove in his second run of the game, while Mark Schoeck (Bellefountaine, Ohio/Bellefountaine H.S.) added a RBI single to knot the game at three with the bases still loaded and no one out. A fly out and a double play, the third Valpo hit into in the first four innings, ended the threat for more runs.
Rzepka's single to center, his third hit of the game, provided his third RBI as well in the fifth inning. The bases loaded hit scored Manthei to put Valpo in front 4-3, but Brunelli was thrown out at the plate trying to increase the lead.
Oakland retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring four runs. Drew Jenison singled home one with two outs and Dustin Joffrion's two-run double capped the inning.
A wild pitch on a third strike with two outs started Valpo's rally in the seventh. Piazza reached with two on and two outs on the miscue, scoring Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.). After Rzepka was hit by the pitch to load the bases, Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) followed with a single to cut the deficit to 7-6. John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) added an infield hit, which scored a second run on a throwing error. Jeff Rickert (Hamilton, Ohio/Fairfield H.S.) added a final run in the inning on a single to push the Valpo lead to 9-7.
Oakland loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but Dallas Cawiezell (Long Grove, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) came on and fanned Ryan Heath to get out of the jam. Brunelli then added to the Brown and Gold's lead in the eighth with a blast to right, his third of the season, pushing the lead to 10-7. Cawiezell got the final six outs to earn his fifth save of the year.
Every Crusader starter had at least one hit in the contest, with Rzepka leading the way with his 3-for-4 effort. Patrick Bracco (Oak Park, Ill./Fenwick H.S.) earned the win (1-0) in relief for Valpo while Scott Boleski (0-6) suffered the loss.
Valparaiso (17-28, 6-7 Mid-Con) and Oakland (16-30, 1-12) will continue their four-game weekend conference series on Saturday afternoon in Rochester with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. CDT.