Valparaiso closed out the 2010 regular season on Saturday
afternoon, splitting a doubleheader with UIC at Les Miller Field in Chicago, Ill. The Crusaders won the opener 9-8 before the
Flames took the nightcap 10-5.
The win in game one of the
doubleheader was the first for Valpo against UIC since 2002, ending a 15-game
losing streak against the Flames.
“Getting the win in the first
game was big as we were able to solidify fourth place,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. We were also able to get that monkey off our back by
finally beating them.”
Valpo jumped on top quickly
in the opener. Four straight singles
plated a pair of runs. Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo
Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.)
served a hit into left to plate Steven
Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.) with the game’s
first run. Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.)
followed with a hit through the left side to score Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows
H.S.). Will Hagel (Arlington
H.S.) was then hit with a pitch to load the bases with one out, but a line
drive double play allowed the Flames to get out of the inning, yielding just
the two runs.
UIC answered just as quickly
in the first. Two singles, including a
RBI hit by Matt Serna, along with two hit by pitches loaded the bases. Ryan Boss then gave the Flames a 5-2 lead
with a grand slam it deep beyond the leftfield wall.
The Crusader bats continued
to stay hot in the third inning, as the offense batted around. A one out walk to O’Gara and a single by
Robinson put two runners on for Hagel.
He laced a single up the middle to plate O’Gara, pulling Valpo within
three. Billy Cribbs (Rochester,
Mich./Rochester H.S.) followed
with a single into shallow left, loading the bases. Karch
Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) added a RBI single
through the left side, making it a one run game, and chasing UIC starting
pitcher Tim Suminski with the bases still loaded. Matt Salemi entered for the Flames and threw
a wild pitch on his first toss, allowing Hagel to score and moving the other
runners up 90 feet. Andrew Bain (Huntertown,
Ind./Carroll H.S.) plated Cribbs
with a sacrifice fly, giving Valpo the lead.
Kyle Muhlsteff (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza
H.S.) kept the inning going with a single up the middle, scoring
Kowalczyk. Muhlsteff’s single was
Valpo’s 10th in the first three innings, giving every Crusader at
least one hit in the game.
The Flames looked to get a
run back in the bottom of the third.
With Chris Rutta on first, Boss ripped a double down the leftfield line,
but Scoby got to it quickly, fired the ball to Muhlsteff, who then gunned Rutta
down at the plate for the final out of the inning.
O’Gara quickly tacked on
another run to the Valpo lead in the top of the fourth, launching a solo blast
over the scoreboard in left-centerfield, making it 8-5 Crusaders. In the bottom of the inning UIC answered with
two runs, one on a triple by Steve McGuiggan and another when Jason Ganek
reached on a Valpo throwing error.
Valpo increased the lead to
9-7 in the sixth inning, taking advantage of three walks. A two out wild pitch by Brad Riegler then
allowed Gaedele to scamper home from third.
(Louisville, Ky./Saint Xavier H.S.) settled down after
the opening inning, working into the eighth inning. In the eighth he got the first two outs
before a pop up was dropped by Bain putting two runners on base. Ganek followed with a double down the
leftfield line, scoring Andy Leonard, pulling UIC within 9-8, and ending
McCormick’s day. Austen Siwiec (Aurora,
Ill./Marmion Academy) came on and
induced a ground ball by Serna to get out of the inning.
“Damon battled today,”
Woodson said. He didn’t have his best
stuff but he didn’t back down. He
pounded the strike zone.”
The Flames made things
interesting in the ninth as Boss tripled high off of the wall in right-center
with two outs, but Siwiec got Joe Betscher to fly out to end the game and
record his first save since 2007.
“Austen came in very composed
which is a big thing, Woodson added. “He
got the job done today.”
McCormick earned the win
(6-1) for the Crusaders, working 7.2 innings and allowing eight runs, six of
which were earned, and 10 hits. He
struck out four but did not walk a batter.
Suminski suffered the loss (3-6) for UIC, allowing seven runs and nine
hits in 2.1 innings of work.
O’Gara finished with three
hits for Valpo in the opener as part of the team’s 13-hit attack. Boss finished 3-for-4 for the Flames with four
runs batted in as UIC had 11 hits.
Game two saw UIC score first
in the opening inning. A one out double
by Serna to the gap in right-centerfield scored Ty Rubio, who led off the game
with a walk.
The Flames added to the lead
in the second as Leonard’s ground out scored Ryan Meehan.
The Crusaders fought back in
the third to take the lead. Bo McClendon (Chesterton, Ind./Merrillville
H.S.) delivered a three run triple that eluded a diving Rutta in left. The senior then scored on a double by O’Gara,
putting Valpo on top 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third.
A fielder’s choice off of the
bat of Boss in the bottom of the third allowed the Flames to cut the deficit in
half, pulling UIC within 4-3. A RBI ground
out by Serna with the bases loaded one inning later tied the game at four.
UIC took the lead in the
bottom of the seventh as Meehan doubled to deep centerfield, scoring Boss who
led off the inning with a single. Leonard
added to the advantage with a two run double down the leftfield line. After a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly scored
two more runs, a single by Boss plated the sixth run of the inning as the
Flames took a 10-4 lead into the eighth inning.
Valpo added a run in the top
of the eighth as Kowalczyk dropped a single into left which plated O’Gara, but
that would be as close at Valpo would get.
Charlie Weinberg earned the
win (2-0) for UIC (22-28, 15-9 Horizon), pitching two innings of scoreless
relief after Eric Wyman struck out 10 in five innings of work. Andy
Parker (Ottawa Hills, Ohio/Ottawa Hills H.S.) suffered the loss
(0-1), not retiring a batter in the seventh inning while allowing five runs.
O’Gara and Kowalczyk led the
Valpo offense with two hits each as the Crusaders managed just seven hits in
game two. Serna, Steven Humble, and
Leonard paced UIC with three hits each as the Flames tallied 16 for the game.
Valparaiso (22-30, 9-10) finished the regular season in fourth
place in the conference and will begin Horizon League Championship play on
Wednesday. The Crusaders are hosting the
tournament at U. S. Steel Yard in Gary,
Ind. Pairings and start times will officially be
announced on Sunday or Monday.