NILES, Ohio -- Crusaders freshman Dalton Lundeen threw eight scoreless innings on Championship Sunday, leading No. 3 Valparaiso to a 3-0 win over No. 4 Wright State, Valpo's second straight Horizon League baseball tournament title.
Lundeen baffled the Wright State batters all day, retiring the first 11 he faced before a breaking ball got away and hit Garrett Gray. The Raiders were hitless until Cody Gardner singled with two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Garnder's one-out double in the eighth was Wright State's only other hit in the ballgame.
When Lundeen exited after the eighth inning, he had allowed only those three baserunners and recorded six strikeouts. Relief Pitcher of the Year Karch Kowalczyk took the mound in the ninth and closed out the Valparaiso win with a 1-2-3 inning, including a game-ending strikeout. For saving all three of Valpo's wins in the tournament, Kowalczyk was named the Most Valuable Player.
The Crusaders staked Lundeen to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, providing all of the offense during a championship game that wrapped up in under two hours. With two outs in the inning, Tanner Vavra singled to center field and advanced to second when John Loeffler was hit by a pitch.
Both Vavra and Loeffler came around to score on Chris Manning's double down to the right-center-field gap. Manning then scored the game's final run on an RBI triple by Spencer Mahoney.
All three runs were scored against Wright State starter Casey Henn, who had battled through back spasms and missed his previously scheduled start in the tournament. Henn gutted through 5.2 innings, allowing four hits, three earned runs and a walk while recording four strikeouts.
With the win, Valparaiso earned the Horizon League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. The Crusaders join the 1993-94 Notre Dame Fighting Irish as the only Horizon League teams to win back-to-back titles in both baseball and softball.
2013 All-Tournament Team
P – Dalton Lundeen, Valparaiso
P – Karch Kowalczyk, Valparaiso (MVP)
C - Garrett Gray, Wright State
1B - Alex Grunenwald, UIC
2B – Michael Pocaro, Milwaukee
SS – Spencer Mahoney, Valparaiso
3B - Joe Betcher, UIC
OF – Kieston Greene, Wright State
OF – Chris Manning, Valparaiso
OF - Alex De La Rosa, UIC
DH - Andrew Bain, Valparaiso