Valparaiso opened up its Horizon League schedule on Friday afternoon by playing its fifth extra-inning game of the season already and dropped a 5-4 game in 10 innings against Butler at Bulldog Park in Indianapolis, Ind.
The Crusaders carried a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning when Pat Gelwicks hit a two-run home run to deep right to tie the game at four. Valpo put runners on the corners in the ninth with one out but could not take the lead, forcing bonus baseball. The Crusaders also got a two-out double from John Loeffler (Burnsville, Minn./Burnsville H.S.) in the tenth, but could not plate the run.
“We swung the bats well today but just didn’t execute,” head coach Tracy Woodson said. “We didn’t execute with men in scoring position and less than two outs, especially with runners on third.”
In the tenth, Ryan Wojciechowski’s two-out single through the right side plated pinch runner Bob Akin with the winning run.
Valpo jumped on top early as Elliott Martin (Irvine, Calif./University H.S.) led off the second with a single and scored when Loeffler followed with a double to left-center.
Butler answered with two runs in the bottom of the third, taking advantage of a pair of Crusader errors. Griffin Richeson drove in the first run on a squeeze bunt and Michael Fries followed with a RBI double, giving the Bulldogs a 2-1 advantage.
The game remained a pitcher’s duel between starters Tyler Deetjen (Saint Charles, Ill./East H.S.) of Valpo and Butler’s Dom Silvestri until the seventh inning.
“Deetjen didn’t have his best stuff today, but he battled to a point where he could have won the game,” Woodson added.
Martin led off with a single and Loeffler followed with a walk. Steven Scoby (Delton, Mich./Delton Kellogg H.S.) singled to right to load the bases. With two outs, Andrew Bain (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor H.S.), playing in his hometown, singled up the middle to plate two, giving the Crusaders the lead. Tanner Vavra (Menomonie, Wis./Menomonie H.S.) followed with another hit up the middle, scoring Scoby, and the Crusaders had a 4-2 lead.
“Bain’s the guy we want at the plate with men in scoring position,” Woodson stated. “He shortens up his swing and puts it in play and did it again today.”
Valpo maintained the advantage until the bottom of the eighth when Butler tied the game.
Chase Byerly earned the win (1-0) for the Bulldogs, pitching 3.1 innings of scoreless relief, allowing three hits while striking out three. Ben Mahar (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein H.S.) suffered the loss (1-3) for the Crusaders, giving up the run in the tenth after pitching two innings.
Bain went 3-for-5 to pace Valpo at the plate with the two runs batted in while Vavra, Martin, Loeffler, and Scoby each had two hits as part of an 11-hit attack. Scoby extended his hitting streak to 12 straight games with his two hits.
Mike Hoscheit went 3-for-4 for the Bulldogs as Butler tallied 14 hits on the day.
Valparaiso (4-13, 0-1 Horizon) and Butler (9-9, 1-0) will play game two of their three-game weekend series on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. CDT at Bulldog Park.