Dallas Cawiezell's (Long Grove, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) seventh inning homerun in the opener and Josh Piazza's (Glenview, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) blast in the sixth inning of game two propelled Valparaiso to a doubleheader sweep of Centenary on a warm, sunny afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. Valpo won the opener 6-4 and took the nightcap 4-2.
It took Valpo just two batters to find the scoreboard in the opener. Jeff Rickert (Hamilton, Ohio/Hamilton H.S.) led off with a single and Michael Arensdorff (Eldridge, Iowa/North Scott H.S.) doubled off of the wall to plate his teammate. With two outs, Brian Rzepka (South Bend, Ind./Penn H.S.) singled to score Arensdorff and Jason Brunelli (Greenfield, Wis./Greenfield H.S.), who had reached on a walk.
Centenary cut the lead to 3-1 with a run in the second, but Crusader hurler Harvey Yergin (Akron, Ohio/Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy) kept the Gents off of the board for the next four innings that followed. In the seventh, the visitors tied the game with a one-out single by Nate Santiago that scored two and took the lead one out later on Calvin Sanchez's hit.
The Crusaders battled back in the bottom of the inning. John Guisti (Coventry, R.I./Coventry H.S.) led off with a single, and with two outs Cawiezell hit a blast just to the left of the scoreboard in left-center, putting Valpo back on top 5-4. A Joe Lazar (Traverse City, Mich./Central H.S.) single that scored Rzepka, who had three hits in the game, in the eighth added the insurance run for the Brown and Gold.
Yergin (3-5) earned the win, working seven solid innings, allowing just six hits and the four runs. Cawiezell, the hitting hero, came out of the bullpen with two outs in the eighth and got the final four outs for his third save of the season.
Centenary scored first in the nightcap, plating an unearned run in the third. Justin Huff's bunt single scored Teddy Saenz, who had reached on an error. Valpo again answered immediately. Giusti led off the bottom of the third with a single and Rickert walked. Following a sacrifice bunt from Arensdorff, Cawiezell tied the game with a run-scoring ground out.
Nick Mazzone (Carol Stream, Ill./Glenbard North H.S.) allowed just the one run on five hits before removed from the game after five innings of work. The Gents had a chance to take the lead in the sixth, putting runners on second and third with one out. Matt Evans (Brighton, Mich./Brighton H.S.) came on and got Sanchez to fly to center which Rzepka made a diving grab on and induced a ground out from Justin Huff. Evans (2-0) earned his second victory of the week for his efforts after defeating Northwestern on Tuesday.
Rzepka then had a one-out double in the bottom of the inning and Piazza launched his first homer of the season against Gents starter Will Kaage (2-4) to put the Crusaders in front 3-1. Josh Wallace (Bellefountaine, Ohio/Bellefountaine H.S.) then laced a double and advanced to third on a passed ball. Dan DeBruin's (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) sacrifice fly added an insurance run for the Crusaders.
Cawiezell came on and gave up a run in the seventh, but picked up his second save of the day to close out the sweep.
Valpo's doubleheader sweep marked the first time since 2004 the Crusaders have won both ends of a doubleheader against the Gents.
Valparaiso (13-20, 2-1 Mid-Con) and Centenary (18-20, 1-2) will wrap up their four-game weekend series on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 12 p.m., one hour early than previously announced. The game will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.