Valpo Bats Explode in Conference Opener at Butler
Bryce Shafer earned his third win of the year. (Ron Stevens)
Valpo Bats Explode in Conference Opener at Butler
Friday, March 20, 2009

Valparaiso scored six times in the top of the third inning to break the game open and tallied 18 total hits on the afternoon as the Crusaders opened Horizon League play on Friday afternoon with a 14-1 victory over Butler at Bulldog Park in Indianapolis, Ind.

“I thought we came out and did the things we needed to today,” head coach Tracy Woodson said.  “We swung the bats well and scored early.”

Ryan Shober (Inverness, Ill./Fremd H.S.) went 4-for-5 and scored three times while Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) and Matt Lenski (Milwaukee, Wis./Marquette University H.S.) had three hits each.  Lenski also drove home three runs on the afternoon.

Bryce Shafer (Wabash, Ind./Northfield H.S.) went 5.2 innings on the mound to earn his third win (3-1) of the season, allowing just three hits and one earned run while striking  out six and walking just three.  Damon McCormick (Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) went the final 3.1 innings for his first collegiate save, not allowing a hit and fanning three.

“McCormick did a good job getting the three-inning save, which saves our bullpen for the rest of the weekend,” added Woodson.

The Crusaders jumped on top in the third, sending 11 batters to the plate in the inning.  A walk and four straight singles, including RBI knocks by Dan DeBruin (Combined Locks, Wis./Kimberly H.S.) and Lenski put Valpo on the board.  A fielder’s choice added a third run and Gaedele added two more runs with a double into right-center.  A Bulldog error plated the sixth run in the inning and the Crusaders were well on their way to the win.

A Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Kellogg H.S.) single and a sacrifice fly by Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.) tacked on two more runs in the fifth while Josh Wallace (Bellefountaine, Ohio/Bellefountaine H.S.) plated another with a double in the sixth.  Gaedele also had a run-scoring single in the inning to make it 10-1 Crusaders.

Lenski, Wallace, and Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) all added RBI singles in the seventh while two errors contributed to Valpo’s final run in the eighth.

Butler plated its lone run in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly by Steve Kaffel.

Eight of the nine Crusader starters tallied at least one hit in Valpo’s offensive attack, as Valpo tallied a season-high for both runs and hits in a game.

Valparaiso (6-10, 1-0 Horizon) and Butler (1-15, 0-1) will wrap up their three-game weekend series on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. at Bulldog Park.

Game Notes: Lenski extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games … O’Gara and Scoby’s hitting streaks each reach six straight contests … Shober’s four-hit game was the first of his career as the freshman entered the game with just five career hits … the 14 runs scored were the most by Valpo since the Crusaders scored 20 at Milwaukee on May 3 of last season … Butler committed four errors in the game.