Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) allowed just one run on six hits in eight strong innings for Valparaiso as the Crusaders posted their first victory of the season with a 9-1 triumph over Richmond on day two of the Jacksonville Tournament held at Sessions Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla.
The only run allowed by Gulbransen (1-0) on the afternoon was a solo homer by Victor Croglio with two outs in the fifth after Valpo already had a 3-0 lead. The southpaw struck out five and walked just two, and has now allowed just two runs in 14 innings on the season.
Valpo jumped on the Spiders in the opening inning. After drawing a pair of walks, Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.) hit his second homerun of the season to left field, giving Valpo the early three-run lead. O’Gara has now hit safely in all five Crusader games this year, and has three multi-RBI games on his way to nine on the year.
Leading 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Valpo struck again for three more. With runners on second and third, Corey Thibault (Tustin, Calif./Foothill H.S.) doubled to score one and Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) plated another run with an infield single. Thibault, who also had a triple on the day, then stole home to make it a five-run advantage.
A Kowalczyk single in the seventh added to the Crusader lead and Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.) plated the eighth run with a single down the left field line. A Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) hit in the eighth closed out the scoring for the Crusaders as Valpo banged out 11 hits on the afternoon, including four for extra bases.
Mike Mergenthaler had three hits in four at bats for Richmond (2-3), as the Spiders managed eight hits on the day. Starter Zach Jung suffered the loss (0-1), working just one inning and allowing three runs and a hit while walking four.
Valparaiso (1-4) will wrap up tournament action on Sunday against the host Dolphins of Jacksonville. First pitch is slated for 12:30 p.m. CST.