The Crusaders received strong outings from three pitchers Tuesday as they combined to tame the Chicago State Cougars 7-1 in Chicago.
Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif./Canyon) provided two solid frames in a tune-up for this weekend's series at UIC. The freshman struck out three as he displayed sound command and a superb assortment of off-speed pitches. His lone blemish was a ground-rule double off the bat of Chase Matheson in the second inning.
Valpo broke a scoreless tie in its half of the third. Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru) hit a grounder to the left side of the infield with the bases loaded. Chicago State got the front end of the double play attempt at second, but the throw to first went over the first baseman's head, allowing Jeff Edwards (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) to score after Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township) had touched home. Michael Morman (Rockford, Ill./Boylan Catholic) followed with a hit to left before Andy Burns (Edwardsville, Ill./Edwardsville [Heartland CC]) made it 3-0 with an opposite field run-scoring single.
Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas/Stony Point) came on in relief of Losi in the bottom of the third. The righty retired the first seven Cougars he faced. Chicago State's Matt Schmidt reached on an error in the bottom of the 5th, but was negated later in the inning when Foreman induced an inning-killing double play.
The Crusaders assembled a two-out rally in the fifth when they made it 5-0. Burns recorded his second hit of the afternoon before Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill./Aurora Christian) lifted a single to right. Freshman Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) dropped a single down the right field line while Burns eluded the tag at the plate.
Two runs came in on a double by Edwards in the top of the 8th to extend Valpo's lead to 7-0. The Crusader second baseman sliced a double down the line and beat the throw to second. The ball got away from the Chicago State infielder allowing Bryce Hara (Irvine, Calif./Northwood [Irvine Valley College]) to race home.
The Cougars scored their lone run on a Julian Russell two-out infield single in their half of the 8th.
Kowalczyk took to the mound and struck out a pair of Chicago State batters en route to a perfect ninth inning.
As a whole, the Crusader pitching staff struck out a season-high eight batters. For Foreman, it was his first collegiate win.
Valpo (8-7) opens Horizon League play this weekend in the Windy City. The Crusaders and UIC Flames (4-9) will play at 3:00 pm Friday and 12:00 pm on both Saturday and Sunday at Curtis Granderson Field in Chicago.