Zach Rodeghero (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic H.S.) extended his hitting streak to 20 straight games with hits in both games of the doubleheader, but it was not enough for Valparaiso as the Crusaders dropped a twinbill 7-5 and 2-1 to Bradley on Tuesday evening in Peoria, Ill.
Bradley jumped on top in the opening inning of game one as Colby Luttrell singled home Rob Elliott with two outs. Bradley batted around in the third, scoring four times to take a 5-0 lead. Grant Escue doubled home and then scored himself on Dan Brewer’s two-run homer to leftfield. The Braves added another unearned run in the inning on a two-out error.
Valpo found the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Rodeghero led off with a single, extending his hitting streak to 19 consecutive games. Rodeghero, who entered the day third in the nation in hitting with a .449 average, went to third on a double by Josh Wallace (Bellefontaine, Ohio/Bellefontaine H.S.). After a walk loaded the bases, Brett Bivens (Battle Creek, Mich./Lakeview H.S.) hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Rodeghero. Andrew Quinnette (Kokomo, Ind./Kokomo H.S.) doubled into the leftfield corner to plate Wallace and cut the deficit to 5-2. The Crusaders looked to add more in the inning, but left the bases loaded.
The Crusaders continued to cut into the deficit in the sixth. Justin Frane (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll H.S.) doubled in the gap in left-center to lead off the inning and scored one batter later. Bivens singled to right, and when Colby Luttrell bobbled the ball, Frane scored to make it 5-3 Bradley. A throwing error on the play as well moved Bivens around to third with no one out. Back-to-back strikeouts looking ended the threat though.
Brad Altbach, who came on in the sixth, sent Valpo down 1-2-3- in the seventh to earn the save in the seven inning ball game. Eitan Barbalat (3-1) earned the win for Bradley, working five innings allowing just two runs and six hits. John Snelten (Ingleside, Ill./Antioch H.S.) suffered the loss (1-2) for the Crusaders, working into the third inning and allowing five runs, four of which were earned, on five hits.
Wallace paced Valpo’s eight-hit attack going 3-for-4 with the double while Quinnette also had two hits in the opener.
The Braves struck first again in the opening inning of game two. Dan Brewer drew a two-out walk and Colby Luttrell doubled to center, just out of the reach of a diving Frane. Matt Fritz led off the fifth with a homer deep to leftfield to increase the Braves advantage to 2-0.
Bradley’s (24-19) pitching stifled Valpo until the ninth, when the Crusaders tried to mount a two-out rally. Quinnette singled with one out, and back-to-back two-out walks loaded the bases. Frane was hit by a pitch to cut the deficit to one, but a ground out ended the game.
Lendsey Thompson (4-2) earned the win, allowing just one hit in four innings, while Bradley’s staff surrendered just three hits on the night. Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) suffered the loss (2-6), allowing two runs and five hits in 4.2 innings.
“We had solid pitching in game two, but we didn’t have many scoring opportunities,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “We had more opportunities in the opener, but didn’t take advantage of them.”
Valparaiso (13-27) will return home on Wednesday to face IPFW. First pitch at Emory G. Bauer Field is set for 3 p.m.