Elliott Gibbs (Munster, Ind./Munster H.S.) threw a four-hit shutout in game one on Saturday afternoon as Valparaiso split its home-opening doubleheader with Cleveland State at Emory G. Bauer Field. The Crusaders posted a 7-0 victory in game one while the Vikings won the nightcap 4-2.
Gibbs (1-3) had a no-hitter working through the first five innings before Tom Carter’s double to center led off the six. The sixth-year senior right-hander allowed a single in the seventh and two hits in the ninth while striking out nine on the afternoon. Gibbs only walked two in his first collegiate shutout.
“Gibbs was in control for us the entire game,” head coach Tracy Woodson said afterwards. “He pitched a gem.”
Valpo’s bats helped their hurler from the start. Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) singled home Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) in the first and Joe Lazar (Traverse City, Mich./Central H.S.) added an RBI on a fielder’s choice with the bases loaded.
Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.), who had two hits in the game, doubled home Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) in the fourth and eventually scored on a Rodeghero single, making it 4-0 Crusaders.
A Frane double in the fifth scored Lazar, and chased Cleveland State starter Josh Hungerman (1-2), who suffered the loss. Hungerman went 4.1 innings allowing six runs and nine hits while fanning six. DeBruin then plated Frane with a double of his own to increase the advantage to six.
Rodeghero capped the scoring in the seventh, leading off the inning with a blast to right for his third homer of the season. The fifth-year senior finished the game 4-for-5 with three runs batted in.
Valpo pounded out 13 hits in the opener, including four for extra bases. Lazar and DeBruin each had two hits as well in the contest.
Game two saw the Vikings jump in front in the opening inning on a two-run homer by Kyle Bischof off of Crusaders starter Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.). A homer by Alex Kerins to lead off the sixth increased the lead to 3-0 and a squeeze bunt in the same inning put Cleveland State up by four.
Valpo tried rallying in the eighth, as a sacrifice fly by Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) scored McCormick and a wild pitch scored DeBruin to cut the deficit in half.
The Crusaders could not push any more runs across the plate against the Vikings’ Brian Long (3-1), who went the distance allowing just the two unearned runs while striking out six. He allowed just four Crusader hits on the afternoon.
Shafer (1-2) went five innings allowing four runs, three of which were earned, and six hits while suffering the loss. The Valpo bullpen tossed four innings of shutout ball in relief.
“Shafer didn’t have his best stuff for us today, but he threw strikes and got through five innings,” Woodson said.
Valparaiso (6-17, 2-2 Horizon League) and Cleveland State (6-9, 1-1) will wrap up their three-game weekend set on Sunday afternoon, making up the game that was postponed on Friday due to snow. First pitch at Emory G. Bauer Field is set for noon.