Valparaiso hit four homeruns in game two of Friday’s doubleheader to earn a split of the twinbill with Tennessee Tech at Bush Stadium in Cookeville, Tenn. The host Golden Eagles rallied to win the opener 6-4 before the Crusaders bounced back to win the nightcap 12-8.
Game two saw Valpo jump out to a 7-0 lead through three-and-a-half innings, only to have Tennessee Tech tie the game before the Crusaders scored late to win.
“We swung the bats well in both games which is a good sign,” head coach Tracy Woodson said afterwards. “We played pretty well for the most part. The bullpen had a couple of lapses, and has to throw strikes. It was good that we battled back after giving up the lead in game two.”
The Crusaders started the scoring in the opening inning. Josh Wallace (Bellefountaine, Ohio/Bellefountaine H.S.) hit a two-run blast to left that scored Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.). Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) and Ryan Shober (Inverness, Ill./Fremd H.S.) led off the second with back-to-back doubles to increase the lead to 3-0. Back-to-back groundouts then plated Shober with Valpo’s fourth run.
The lead swelled to seven, as McCormick led off the fourth with a walk and moved to third on a single by Shober. Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) doubled home McCormick and Lenski followed with a single to plate Shober, extending his hitting streak to eight straight games. Wallace added a single to left to plate Muhlsteff and the Crusaders appeared to be cruising.
Tennessee Tech battled back though, cutting into the lead with two in the bottom of the fourth. The Golden Eagles erupted for five more in the fifth. Three Valpo walks along with a three-run homer by Evan Webb allowed the hosts to tie the game at seven heading into the late innings.
Playing just seven innings in each game of the doubleheader, the Crusaders shook off the Tennessee Tech rally in the top of the six. After Muhlsteff was hit to lead off the inning, Lenski homered down the leftfield line and Wallace followed with his second round tripper of the game, this one to straight away centerfield, giving the Brown and Gold a 10-7 lead. After a pitching change, Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) drew a walk and Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) hit the third homer of the inning, allowing the Crusaders to rebuild their five run advantage.
The Golden Eagles scored one in the bottom of the sixth on a two-out single and close out the scoring.
Matt Sucky (Fort Wayne, Ind./Concordia Lutheran H.S.) earned the win (1-0) out of the bullpen, his first collegiate victory. Ben Burgess suffered the loss (0-1), allowing three runs and two hits in 1.2 innings of relief.
Wallace finished the nightcap 3-for-4 with four runs batted in while Lenski and Shober had two hits each and Lenski driving home three. Chad Oberaker was 3-for-4 for Tennessee Tech.
In the opener, Tennessee Tech scored first in the second inning as Evan Webb tripled with one out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Heath Cheverton.
The Crusaders took the lead in the fourth, scoring three times. Gaedele doubled to left to score Lenski, who led off the inning with a single. A groundout by Ranko Ivetic (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central H.S.) gave Valpo the lead, scoring Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.). Frane capped the frame with a single up the middle to plate Gaedele.
The fifth proved to be the difference though, as the Golden Eagles scored five times. Webb’s three-run double capped the inning, giving Tennessee Tech the lead for good.
Valpo tried to rally in the seventh, but ended up leaving the tying runs on base. Gaedele led off the inning with a single and advanced to second when Ivetic walked. A fielder’s choice put runners on the corners and Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Kellogg H.S.) doubled down the right field line with two outs to score Gaedele, and put runners on second and third, but a flyout ended the game.
A.J. Kirby-Jones earned the win (1-0) for Tennessee Tech, pitching five innings and allowing three runs and seven hits while striking out four. Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) suffered the loss (2-2), allowing five runs and five hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Scoby went 3-for-4 to pace Valpo’s 10-hit attack while Lenski, O’Gara, and Gaedele all had two hits a piece in the opener.
Valparaiso (5-9) and Tennessee Tech (10-4) will wrap up their four-game weekend series with another twinbill on Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. at Bush Stadium, with the team’s playing a nine-inning game first followed by a seven-inning contest.