YSU’s Season Ends in Opening-Round Loss to Valparaiso

Kevin Hix (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Kevin Hix (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Valparaiso scored seven two-out runs and got a shutout performance from Dalton Lundeen in an 8-0 victory over the Youngstown State baseball team in the Horizon League Tournament on Wednesday afternoon at Oil City Stadium.

With the opening round being single elimination, YSU’s season and attempt to defend its 2014 tournament title came to a close. The Penguins finished the season with a 16-34 record, and Valparaiso will move on to play either top-seeded UIC or second-seeded Wright State in the double-elimination part of the bracket on Thursday.

Lundeen, the preseason Horizon League Pitcher of the Year who had a disappointing regular season, saved his best for his postseason start against the Penguins. The junior left-hander struck out five of YSU’s first eight hitters, and he was able to make outs in key situations. While Valparaiso’s offense went 6-for-19 with runners on base and posted eight of its 12 hits with two outs, the Penguins were 1-for-12 with men on base and 2-for-10 with two outs. Lundeen finished with seven strikeouts and surrendered seven hits and two walks in his 141-pitch outing.

Kevin Hix led the Penguins with two hits in the final game of his career, and Frank Califano’s bunt single to start the game extended his hitting streak to 19 games. That’s the longest streak by a YSU player since 2007 when John Koehnlein hit safely in 27 straight games and Erich Diedrich had a 19-game streak.

Califano’s single to start the game was the first of five times that the Penguins got the leadoff runner on. YSU even had the first two hitters reach in both the seventh and eighth innings but couldn’t crack Lundeen. He induced a pair of double plays, and the only two-out hits he gave up were with no runners on base.

Kyle Schneider’s line drive over shortstop Shane Willoughby’s glove with two outs in the second inning brought in Valparaiso’s first run, and Spencer Mahoney led off the third inning with a home run to right center. The Mahoney homer was the Crusaders’ only run of the game when there weren’t two outs.

Mark Johnson sliced an RBI double past Califano in left center in the fourth inning to put Valpo up 3-0, and Jeff Edwards hit a two-run double in the sixth to give Lundeen some extra cushion. The Crusaders added three more runs in the eighth for the final tally.

Youngstown State starter Joe King allowed three runs in four innings, and Josh North gave up the two-run double to Edwards. Ryan Krokos pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, and Austin Lujano and Anthony Konders were both charged with runs in the ninth.