Baseball Scores Two in the Eighth to Edge Valparaiso, 4-3

Nick DiNello | Photo by Ron Stevens
Nick DiNello | Photo by Ron Stevens

The Youngstown State baseball team scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and got solid pitching throughout to beat Valparaiso 4-3 on Sunday afternoon at Eastwood Field.

The win allowed the Penguins to avoid the sweep and moved them into a three-way tie for second place at the halfway point of the Horizon League season. Milwaukee leads the league with an 8-4 record, and YSU, UIC and Wright State are all 6-6. Valparaiso dropped to 4-8.

Youngstown State led 1-0 after three innings and answered Valpo's two-run fifth with a run in the bottom half to tie the score at 2-2. The Crusaders scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth, but YSU came up with two runs in the bottom half for the win.

The bottom third of the order came up big for the Penguins the first two times through the order. Marcus Heath, batting seventh, led off the third inning with a double and went to third on Jake Kucek's single. Devin Higgins then brought in Heath with his first of three singles on the day to give YSU a 1-0 lead.

Valpo had three straight singles to start the fifth to tie the score, and Bryce Hara's sacrifice fly put the Crusaders ahead 2-1. YSU tied the score when DiNello brought in Kucek with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

Hara drew a leadoff walk in the eighth, then moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and ground out. He scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

In the bottom of the eighth, Mike Accardi drew a four-pitch walk to start the inning and moved to second on DiNello's single to left. Drew Dosch then shot a single through the left side to score Accardi and advance DiNello to third. With the infield at double play depth, Josh White then hit into a 4-6-3 double play that allowed DiNello to score the eventual winning run.

Valpo didn't go quietly in the ninth off YSU closer Nic Manuppelli. Manuppelli walked the leadoff batter on four pitches, and Billy Cribbs sacrificed pinch-runner Mark Johnson to second. Manuppelli got down in the count 2-0 to Andy Burns before getting him to fly out, and the reliever walked Andrew Bain to put the go-ahead runner on. Manuppelli, though, induced Hara into a fly out to left to earn his sixth save.

YSU starter Lance Horner pitched well, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks in 7.2 innings. Russ Harless got the final out of the eighth and was credited with the victory.

Valpo starter Dalton Lundeen allowed two runs on five hits and three walks in five innings in a no decision. Kyle Wormington came in to start the sixth and allowed two runs on four hits in his three innings.

Youngstown State will play at Pittsburgh on Tuesday at 3 p.m.