Valparaiso opened the 2008 baseball season on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader split in Clarksville, Tenn. The Crusaders opened with a 15-6 victory over Austin Peay in game one only to have the Governors win the nightcap 12-4.
Valpo’s win in game one marked the first time since the Crusaders defeated Pittsburgh in 1997 that Valpo won the season opener.
Valparaiso scored nine times in the fifth inning of the opener, aided by two Governor errors and five walks, to rally from a 5-2 deficit. Five straight walks in the inning brought home the first four runs of the inning, and Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) singled home two more as part of his 3-for-5 effort in his collegiate debut. Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) also had a run-scoring single in the inning, and Valpo plated the final two runs on a error.
Valpo added single runs in the sixth and eighth, and two more in the ninth. Brett Bivens (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview H.S.) had a two-run single to center in the opening inning and added another RBI hit in the ninth as part of a four-RBI day.
Derek Smith (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) entered the game in relief for Valpo in the bottom of the fifth, and did not allow a hit or run in 4.1 innings of work to record the victory. Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) got the start in the opener, working 3.1 innings and allowing just one hit, but five runs, three of which were unearned.
Jason Brunelli (Greenfield, Wis./Greenfield H.S.) and Frane each had three hits as Valpo banged out 16 to start the season.
Austin Peay scored a run in the first and four more in the fourth, including a pair of unearned runs. Valpo’s pitching staff limited the Governors to just four hits in the opener.
Game two saw the Governors score six times in the first three innings off of starter Alex Berry (Olney, Ill./East Richland H.S.), only two of which were earned. Valpo tallied single runs in the second and third, one off of a sacrifice fly by McCormick and the other as Brunelli stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.
Austin Peay struck for four more runs in the fifth, two on a Greg Bachman singles as he went 3-for-5 in the game. Valpo added a run in the sixth on a Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) single and another in the eighth as Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) drove one in. The Governors tacked on two in the bottom of the eighth to close the scoring.
Rodeghero went 3-for-4 in the nightcap with an RBI and finished the day with five hits. Quinnette also had two hits for Valpo, which managed just six in game two. Austin Peay tallied 12 hits, and drew six walks from Crusader pitching.
“We did a lot of good things for opening day,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “All of our freshmen that we played contributed. The biggest problem was the number of walks (15) in the doubleheader, but I think that will turn around.”
Valparaiso (1-1) and Austin Peay (1-1) will wrap up their three-game weekend series with the rubber match on Sunday afternoon with a single game beginning at 12 p.m. CST in Clarksville.