Horizon League Baseball Tournament Scores
No. 3 Valparaiso 8, No. 2 UIC 7
No. 1 Milwaukee vs. No. 3 Wright State -- PPD
No. 5 Youngstown State vs. No. 2 UIC -- PPD
NILES, Ohio -- Three games were on the schedule for Thursday but only the Valparaiso-UIC matchup was able to be played be on-again, off-again rain showers forced the third and fourth games of the Horizon League Baseball Tournament to be postponed.
Due to the postponed games, Wright State and Milwaukee will play tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET, followed by Youngstown State-UIC at 3 p.m. ET and the winner of that game against the loser of the first game at 7 p.m. ET. The schedule for Saturday has not been decided yet and will be announced by the Horizon League by noon on Friday.
In the lone game on Thursday, the Crusaders and Flames combined for 15 runs and 24 hits as No. 3 Valpo hung on late to earn an 8-7 win over No. 2 UIC.
Valparaiso took the lead in the top of the fourth inning on a couple of run-scoring hits that combined to travel less than 200 feet from the plate. With runners on second and third, Chris Manning grounded a ball down the third base line that hit off the bag and bounced into shallow left field.
Bryce Hara scored easily from third and as Tanner Vavra rounded the bag he collided with the UIC third baseman. Interference was called on the fielder, but Vavra scored easily regardless as the throw went into second base. Manning's double off the bag put Valpo ahead 2-1, a lead that would not be relinquished.
The Crusaders added a third run after Manning advanced to third on a groundout to second and then scored on Elliot Martin's swinging-bunt single. The RBI was Martin's first since March 16.
Valpo added a run in the top of the fifth inning on Hara's RBI single and then exploded for four runs in the top of the sixth. Manning started the inning with a walk and then scored on Spencer Mahoney's triple to center field. Martin then blooped a single into left field to drive in Mahoney.
Martin moved to second on a groundout and then scored easily after Mark Johnson's double hit the right-center-field wall on the fly. Johnson moved to third on a single and scored on Hara's sac fly, putting the Crusaders up 8-2.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the seventh inning when the Flames sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs. After a leadoff single, back-to-back doubles by Alex Grunenwald and Joe Betcher pulled UIC within 8-4 and forced a Valpo pitching change.
After the switch, a walk, a sac bunt and a walk loaded the bases for the Flames before a lineout. With two outs and the bases still loaded, Alex De La Rosa was hit by a pitch to score Grunenwald and Alex Jurich singled to left to score John Coen, cutting the Valpo lead to 8-7 with the bases still loaded.
Crusaders reliever Ben Mahar got a big strikeout to end the inning, however, keeping the lead intact. Mahar allowed just one hit and one earned run in two innings of relief, walking two and striking out three. Horizon League Reief Pitcher of the Year Karch Kowalczyk tossed a perfect ninth inning to seal the win, his 10th save of the season.
UIC ace Tomas Michelson was uncharacteristly shaky in the start, taking the loss on six innings of work while allowing 11 hits, eight runs (five earned) and a walk to go with two strikeouts. Valpo starter Cole Webb picked up the win on six innings, 10 hits, six earned runs, one walk and one strikeout.
UIC had taken an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning on a run-scoring double play. The Flames also scored a lone run in the bottom of the fifth on Betcher's sac fly.