Oakland utilized a five-run opening inning to push the Golden Grizzlies past Valparaiso 6-4 on Sunday afternoon in Rochester, Mich. in the final game of a four-game Mid-Continent Conference weekend series.
Kevin Carkeek homered three batters into the game to put the hosts in front 2-0. Oakland batted around in the inning, scoring three more times, including a pair of unearned runs to jump into an early lead.
Jason Brunelli (Greenfield, Wis./Greenfield H.S.) put Valpo on the scoreboard in the fourth inning with his fourth homerun of the season, a two-out solo shot. Oakland answered with a run in the bottom of the inning on a single by Justin Wilson.
Valpo rallied in the seventh, cutting the deficit to two, but that would be as close as the Brown and Gold would get on this day. Dallas Cawiezell (Long Grove, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) led off the inning with a double and scored on a Brunelli single, his second RBI of the day. With one out, Ryan Manthei (Kenosha, Wis./Tremper H.S.) doubled to put runners on second and third and Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) plated one with a ground out. John Giusti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) drove home Manthei with a double down the leftfield line, but would be stranded as the inning ended.
The Crusaders put the first two hitters aboard in the ninth with hopes of tying the game, but a double play ball hurt the threat.
Adam Johnson (1-4) earned the win for Oakland (19-30, 4-12 Mid-Con), pitching 6.2 innings allowing four runs and eight hits while Mike Takashima came on for the final seven outs for his second save of the season. Nick Mazzone (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) suffered the loss (3-6) for the Crusaders, working the first four innings of the contest.
Brunelli and Manthei each had two hits for the Brown and Gold while Wilson went 3-for-5 for the Golden Grizzlies.
Valparaiso (17-31, 6-10) will begin its final homestand of the season on Tuesday afternoon as the Crusaders entertain Indiana beginning at 3 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field. The game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.