Valparaiso pounded out a season-high 23 hits on Friday afternoon and snapped the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s 18-game winning streak at Henry Aaron Field with a 17-3 victory over the Panthers in Milwaukee, Wis.
Six Crusaders had at least three hits each, with Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) going 4-for-5 on the afternoon while driving home three. Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) had four RBIs, including a two-run homer in the ninth.
Valpo jumped on top with single runs in the first and second innings, scoring on a fielder’s choice and an error. The Panthers tied the game at two in the third on a double by Ben Long, only to see the Crusaders retake the lead in their next at bat.
“We scored early and that is a key for us,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “We swung the bats well, got the lead, and added on. When a couple of guys get hits it multiplies and the excitement builds in the dugout.”
Getting hits is what Valpo did in the fourth. The Crusaders tallied eight in the inning, including six straight, on the way to scoring six runs and taking an 8-2 lead. The Panthers added a run in the bottom of the fourth on a homer by Doug Dekoning, but that would be the last run Valpo hurler Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) would allow on his way to a complete game victory (4-3).
“Jon was able to overcome a few of our defensive miscues early and kept his pitch count down,” Woodson said. “That helped him go the distance.”
Valpo continued to pour on the runs in the sixth, sending 11 batters to the plate while scoring seven more times. Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza H.S.) had a two-run double to key the inning as the Brown and Gold had five straight and four straight hits during the inning.
Gaedele’s homer in the ninth capped off the scoring as the Crusaders snapped their three-game losing skid.
Gulbransen scattered nine hits while allowing the three runs for his third complete game of the year, but walked just one while striking out three. Lucas Annen suffered the loss (1-1), surrendering 11 runs and 14 hits in three innings of relief.
Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.), Muhlsteff, Justin Frane (Huntertown, Ind./Carroll H.S.), and Gaedele each had three hits while Robinson added four more as the top five batters in the Crusader order accounted for 16 hits. Billy Cribbs (Rochester, Mich./Rochester H.S.) also had three hits for the Brown and Gold, his fourth three-hit night of the season. Frane, who extended his hitting streak to 15 straight games, and Gaedele both scored three times as well.
Valparaiso (18-22, 6-3 Horizon) and Milwaukee (18-19, 7-6) will close out their three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader. First pitch of the twinbill is set for 1 p.m. at Henry Aaron Field.