Valparaiso scored seven runs after the fifth inning and kept Youngstown State from getting big hits in a 9-2 victory over the Penguins on Friday afternoon at Eastwood Field.
The Crusaders had just one more hit than the Penguins, but the visitors also benefitted from seven walks and five errors.
Mike Accardi and Nick DiNello had three hits apiece for YSU, and Neil Schroth and Jason Shirley both had two hits. YSU, which stranded 10 runners, was caught stealing three times and hit into a big inning-ending double play in the second inning.
Andrew Bain led Valpo with three hits, and four Crusaders had two hits.
Valpo took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second on three straight singles from its five through seven hitters. Chris Manning started with a single, and Spencer Mahoney followed with a grounder that snuck through with the shortstop playing at double play depth. Manning was thrown out trying to steal for the first out of the inning, but Kyle Schneider brought in Mahoney on a bloop single.
The Penguins had a chance to take the momentum with a big inning in the bottom half of the second as they loaded the bases with nobody out, but Valpo starter Cole Webb kept them scoreless. Josh White led off with a walk, and Phil Lipari and DiNello followed with singles. Webb struck out Marcus Heath then got Kevin Hix to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The Crusaders scored another run to go up 2-0 in the third when Tanner Vavra, John Loeffler and Manning registered three straight two-out singles. A one-out double by Schneider in the sixth put Valparaiso up 3-0, and the visitors registered two more runs on two hits and three walks in the seventh.
The Penguins finally got to Webb in the seventh with two runs on three hits. DiNello led off with a single, and Shirley singled him to third with two outs. Accardi then brought in both runners with a double to right. Valpo reliever Ben Mahar came in and walked Schroth to bring the tying run to the plate, but he got Drew Dosch to ground out to end the inning.
Valpo then scored four runs on two hits, two walks and three errors in the eighth to go ahead 9-2.
Webb, who entered the contest with a 1.88 ERA, allowed two runs on nine hits and three walks in 6.2 innings. Two Crusaders relievers held YSU scoreless on three hits over the final 2.1 innings.
YSU starter Blake Aquadro was charged with four earned runs on 11 hits in 6.1 innings in a losing effort. Four of Valpo's nine runs were unearned.
The Penguins and Crusaders will play game two of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m.