Jon Gulbransen (Appleton, Wis./Fox Valley Lutheran H.S.) struck out 13 on Tuesday afternoon helping Valparaiso to its fifth straight win and eighth victory in its last 10 games overall with an 8-1 triumph over Chicago State at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Gulbransen’s 13 strikeouts marked a new career high for the senior southpaw. He allowed just four hits in seven innings of work, including just a lone single after the second inning, and did not walk a Cougar while earning the win (3-5).
“Jon pitched well and threw the ball hard today,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “Overall I thought we played well. We came out and just took care of business.”
The Crusader bullpen was solid as well, pitching for the first time in nearly a week. Kevin Wild (Brown Deer, Wis./Brown Deer H.S.) struck out the side in the eighth while Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru H.S.) pitched a scoreless ninth.
“We didn’t need the bullpen at all last weekend so it was good for them to get a little work today,” Woodson said. “They did a nice job coming in late in the game.”
Chicago State jumped on top in the opening inning as Alberrt Carpen reached on a bunt single and stole second. Following another single by Jonathan Carpen, he then scored on a ground out off the bat of Tony Sanchez.
Valpo immediately responded in the bottom of the inning. Kyle Gaedele (Arlington Heights, Ill./Rolling Meadows H.S.) led off with a single and moved up 90 feet on an error. A balk advanced to him to third, and the second error of the inning, this time on a RBI by Chris Manning (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro H.S.), allowed the junior to score and tie the game.
“After getting behind early, we did a nice job of bouncing back,” Woodson said. “We hit the ball hard today, even on some of the outs.”
The Crusaders sent 10 batters to the plate in the third inning, plating five runs to break the game open. Andrew Bain (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor H.S.) led off with a single and scored on a triple by Gaedele. Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.) added a sacrifice fly to give Valpo a 3-1 lead. Manning followed with a double and the Crusaders put runners on the corners following a Will Hagel (Arlington Heights, Ill./Prospect H.S.) single. Two more RBI singles followed off of the bats of Robbie Robinson (Brea, Calif./Olinda H.S.) and Ryan O’Gara (Buffalo Grove, Ill./Buffalo Grove H.S.). With two outs, Michael Morman (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic H.S.) added Valpo’s sixth run of the game with a base hit up the middle.
Gulbransen was in control after being staked to the big lead, retiring 13 straight at one point from the second through sixth innings. He struck out five batters in a row in the second and third innings, and fanned four Cougars in the sixth, with one reaching on a wild pitch.
Valpo tacked on a pair of runs in the seventh. Hagel and Robinson led off with back-to-back singles, chasing Chicago State starter Derek Borst. Bobby Martin (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge H.S.) delivered a run-scoring single, as did Bain, and Valpo finished off the 8-1 win.
Gaedele, Hagel, Robbinson, and Bain all had two hits as part of Valpo’s 12-hit attack on the afternoon, with eight different Crusaders driving home runs.
Borst suffered the loss (0-3) for Chicago State (4-22), allowing all eight runs, six of which were earned, and 10 hits in six plus innings of work. He walked three Crusaders and struck out two.
Valparaiso (11-21) will continue its five-game homestand and look to continue its winning streak with a three-game weekend Horizon League series against Youngstown State beginning on Friday afternoon. First pitch in the series opener is set for 3 p.m.