Valparaiso used a seven-run fourth inning to defeat the Youngstown State baseball team 9-1 on Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale for both teams at Eastwood Field.
The Crusaders finished the regular season with a 23-26 overall record and a 12-12 mark during conference play and will enter next week's Horizon League Tournament as the third seed. YSU will be the sixth seed and will play Valparaiso again on Wednesday at 4 p.m. Eastern at Kapco Park in Mequon, Wis. The Penguins finished the regular season 12-36 overall and 6-17 in league play.
The game was delayed by 1:07 due to rain, and there was another 38-minute delay in the top of the second inning. The rain and next week's tournament lowered YSU starter Jeremy Quinlan's pitch count limit, and the Crusaders scored eight runs off the Penguins' bullpen.
Quinlan worked around a one-out single in a scoreless first, and the leadoff batter reached on an error to start the second inning. Quinlan got the next two batters to fly out before the skies opened with hard rain and hail. After the 38-minute delay, Jake Hanson flew out to end the inning.
Mark Johnson walked off Quinlan to start the third, and he advanced to second on Spencer Mahoney's soft ground out. Bryce Hara followed with an RBI single that tied the game at 1-1.
Valparaiso then blew the game open with seven two-out runs in the fourth inning off Robert Switka. Hanson drove home the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly, and Johnson followed with a single that plated Andrew Bynam. Andy Burns scored on a double steal, and Hara's single plated Johnson to make the score 5-1. Three more runs came in when Chris Manning and two others scored on a four-base error on a dropped fly ball near the left-field wall.
The Crusaders added another run in the eighth when Manning reached on an error and scored on a double play.
Gillespie finished 2-for-2 with a walk, and Shane Willoughby added two hits for the Penguins. Hara finished with a game-high three hits to lead Valparaiso.
Valpo starter Ellis Foreman pitched four innings and was awarded his third victory of the year. Switka was charged with the loss, his first of the season, allowing four earned runs in his inning. Alex Frey, Ryan Smith and Brad Smith all had scoreless innings of relief, and Kevin Yarabinec allowed an unearned run in two innings.