Valparaiso scored four times in the final two innings, and had the tying run at the plate in the ninth, but fell just short on Wednesday afternoon, dropping a 9-6 decision to #21 Arkansas at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark.
For the second straight day the Crusaders fell behind in the opening inning, this time surrendering a two-run homer to Andy Wilkins, who went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in on the afternoon. He drove in his third run in the third inning with a double that increased the Razorbacks lead to 3-0.
A run-scoring single by Collin Kuhn and a triple by Ben Tschepikow plated two more runs in the fourth for the hosts, increasing the lead to five before Valpo found the scoreboard in the fifth.
With one out, Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) and Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Kellogg H.S.) had back-to-back singles. Following the second out of the inning, Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) plated Gaedele with a single to right and Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) scored Scoby to cut the Arkansas lead to 5-2. The Crusaders then loaded the bases before a ground out ended the threat without any more damage.
Arkansas (7-1) got a run back in the fifth and added two more in the sixth before Wilkins singled home a run in the seventh to push the lead to 9-2.
Valpo did not go down quietly though. A two-run homer by Muhlsteff in the eighth as well as a RBI single by Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) which plated Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) brought Valpo to within four at 9-5. The Crusaders loaded the bases in the inning as well, but could not score another run.
DeBruin led off the ninth with a double, and scored on a single by Muhlsteff, and with two outs in the inning Valpo brought the tying run to the plate, only to have a strikeout end the game.
Muhlsteff ended the game 3-for-4 with three runs batted in for the Brown and Gold while DeBruin went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two runs scored.
Tschepikow went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs for Arkansas while Kuhn scored four runs and was 2-for-2.
Alex Berry (Olney, Ill./East Richland H.S.) started and suffered the loss (0-2) for Valpo, working 4.2 innings and allowing eight hits and six runs. He walked four and struck out five.
Brett Eibner (1-1) earned the win for the Razorbacks, allowing just two hits in four innings of work.
Valparaiso (4-3) will take Thursday off as a travel day before heading to Memphis, Tenn. on Friday afternoon for the start of a three-game weekend series against the Tigers of Memphis. First pitch of game one of the series is set for 4 p.m.