The 2012 Horizon League Baseball Tournament field has been cut in half as only three teams remain in contention for the tournament championship played at Les Miller Field in Chicago.
After all three games on Thursday were won by 10 or more runs, the script was flipped on Friday as all three games ended in one-run margins.
In the winner’s bracket, Valparaiso used a three-run eighth inning to beat UIC. The Flames got on the board first in the game, scoring two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth to take a 3-0 after 5 ½ innings. Valparaiso did not get its first hit off UIC pitcher Tomas Michelson until the fifth inning as Michelson cruised through the first six innings, allowing only two Valpo hits and one run.
The Crusaders bats started to come alive in the seventh as they loaded the bases with one out, but Michelson induced a ground ball that his defense turned into a double play to get the Flames out of the inning.
But Valparaiso was just getting warmed up.
The Crusaders loaded the bases with one out again in the eighth inning, but this time there was no double play coming for UIC. First-Team All-Horizon League member Spencer Mahoney singled in one run to cut the deficit to one. The very next VU batter, Mark Johnson, singled in two runs to give Valparaiso a 4-3 lead that it would never relinquish.
Horizon League Pitcher of the Year Kevin Wild got the win for the Crusaders. Michelson, despite his terrific start to the game, was credited with the loss.
Wright State staved off elimination in the first game Friday with a 12-inning victory over Milwaukee. The Raiders got on the board in the third inning to take a 1-0 lead and the lead held up until the ninth inning when Ryan Solberg doubled to drive in the tying run for Milwaukee.
Both teams had opportunities in extra innings, but it was Wright State’s Garrett Gray who finally was able to come through as he drove a single right up the middle to score Jake Hibberd and gave the Raiders a 2-1 win in 12 innings.
Horizon League Relief Pitcher of the Year Michael Schum was the winning pitcher after coming into the game and pitching 5.2 innings of relief and allowing only three hits.
The loss ended Milwaukee’s season.
The win only saved Wright State from elimination for one game though as the Raiders fell to Youngstown State in the second game of the day, 5-4.
It didn’t look like Wright State would have any difficulty in advancing past the Penguins in the early innings of the game as the Raiders scored three in the first and one in the second to take a 4-0 lead. But YSU’s pitcher, Blake Aquadro, would settle down from there as he didn’t allow WSU to score another run in the contest in his 8.2 innings of work.
Youngstown State got back in the game with three runs in the top of the third to cut Wright State’s lead to 4-3. The Penguins tied the game in the fifth and scored the winning run in the sixth when freshman Jason Shirley doubled to centerfield to score Jeremy Banks.
Two games are on the schedule for Saturday. UIC and Youngstown State faceoff at 11 a.m. CT in an elimination game with the winner advancing to face Valparaiso at 4 p.m. If the Crusaders win, they win the tournament championship and will receive the Horizon League’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. If the winner of the UIC/Youngstown State game beats Valparaiso in the 4 p.m. game then the two teams will play again on Sunday at 12 p.m. CT to determine the tournament champion.
Friday, May 25 Results
(2) Wright State 2, (3) Milwaukee 1 (12 innings)
(6) Youngstown State 5, (2) Wright State 4
(1) Valparaiso 4, (4) UIC 3
Saturday, May 26 Schedule
11 a.m. CT – (6) Youngstown State vs. (4) UIC
4 p.m. CT – (1) Valparaiso vs. Winner of YSU/UIC
Tags: UIC - Baseball · Valparaiso - Baseball · Youngstown State - Baseball