Eight unearned runs proved to be Valparaiso’s undoing in its opener of the 2013 Horizon League Championship on Wednesday afternoon, as the third-seeded Crusaders fell by a final score of 9-1 to sixth-seeded Youngstown State in Chicago, Ill. The Crusaders will play an elimination game Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m.
Each side got a one-out single in the first inning before Youngstown State plated seven unearned runs in the second. The Crusaders got the first out of the inning before an error on a pop-up in the infield. A single and walk loaded the bases before Haley Knight’s RBI single put the Penguins on the board. A fielding error allowed another run to score and a two-run single from Courtney Ewing made it 4-0 YSU. The Penguins capped their seven-run frame with an RBI double by Miranda Castiglione and a two-run double by Sarah Gabel.
Valpo was able to slice a run off the deficit in the bottom of the third, as fifth-year senior Joylyn Ichiyama (Torrance, Calif./Redondo Union) connected on a two-out solo homer which cleared the left-center fence, her team-high seventh homer of the year. But Youngstown State closed out the run-rule win in the fifth, as RBI base hits from Caroline Krombach and Knight gave the Penguins an eight-run lead.
Casey Crozier earned the complete-game win for Youngstown State (17-25) to improve to 14-8, striking out nine Crusaders. Freshman Taylor Weissenhofer (Homer Glen, Ill./Lockport Township) took the loss to fall to 17-11 for the Crusaders, giving up all seven second-inning runs in 1.2 innings of work, none of which were earned.
Valparaiso (29-25), which won the 2012 Horizon League Championship after losing its first game, will have to do the same thing this year. The journey starts at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon against the loser of an earlier game between UIC and Wright State. The game can be seen live on the Horizon League Network and heard live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso), with links for the live audio, video and stats available through ValpoAthletics.com.