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College baseball: Valparaiso stays alive in NCAA Tournament

Valparaiso pitcher Kyle Wormingtreacts team's victory conclusigame against FloridNCAA regional college baseball tournament Saturday June 1 2013 BloomingtInd. Valparaiso defeated

Valparaiso pitcher Kyle Wormington reacts to the team's victory at the conclusion of the game against Florida in the NCAA regional college baseball tournament Saturday, June 1, 2013, in Bloomington, Ind. Valparaiso defeated Florida 5-4. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler) ORG XMIT: INDM107

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Updated: July 3, 2013 7:11AM



BLOOMINGTON — Valparaiso coach Tracy Woodson didn’t sleep well Friday night.

He was hoping to sleep a little better Saturday night.

Less than 24 hours after his Crusaders blew a ninth-inning lead to Indiana, Valparaiso was on the other end of a comeback, rallying for a 5-4 win over Florida in the elimination game of the NCAA baseball regional.

The first NCAA baseball tournament win for the Crusaders since 1966 featured plenty of drama — especially with Woodson’s decision to not use closer Karch Kowalczyk in the ninth inning.

Kowalczyk gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning Friday night as the Hoosiers rallied for a 5-4 win that sent Valparaiso into the loser’s bracket.

Woodson had said Friday night that he wouldn’t hesitate to use Kowalczyk Saturday against the Gators (29-30).

“I went to him in the seventh and asked him how he was doing, he said, ‘I’m a little sore, but I want to go out there,’” Woodson said Saturday. “I didn’t want Karch not being 100 percent and bringing him in and just completely ruining the kid. He’s got another year for us, and I’m gonna take care of him.”

And thanks to Kyle Wormington (6-7), the Crusaders (32-27) have at least one more game this season.

Wormington came on in the seventh inning and allowed just three hits in three innings of work.

“We wanted (starter Chris) DeBoo to go as long as he could,” Woodson said. DeBoo gave up 10 hits and four runs in five innings before giving way to Dalton Lundeen, who is expected to start today’s game for the Crusaders.

Valparaiso struck first against Florida, on Spencer Mahoney’s first home run of the season. His solo shot to left field, helped by the wind, gave the Crusaders a 1-0 lead after the first inning.

“It was definitely a huge lift for us to get on the board first today,” Mahoney said. “We were able to jump out on top yesterday too and that kind of puts our pitcher at ease.”

The Crusaders’ lead held up until the fourth, when the Gators scored thanks to four straight hits off DeBoo.

“I think he started to get the ball up a little bit when he gave up the three runs,” Woodson said. “He got out of it with a double play and then the next inning gave up a run.”

The Crusaders couldn’t solve Florida starter Johnny Magliozzi until the seventh inning, then Valparaiso’s first three batters reached to load the bases, prompting Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan to call for Daniel Gibson.

“The bottom line about Johnny Magliozzi is if he doesn’t perform like he did all year long, we would not be playing in this tournament,” O’Sullivan said.

Gibson (2-1) failed to get an out, walking in two of the four runs Valparaiso scored in the inning. The other runs scored on fielder’s choices with Gibson on the mound.

Florida had a chance in the ninth, when Wormington walked leadoff batter Casey Turgeon and gave up a single to Justin Shafer. But even when both Florida runners moved into scoring position, Woodson stuck with him.

A strikeout and a groundout ended the game and sent Florida home.

“Everybody asked me what it was like last night,” Woodson said. “I couldn’t sleep. I tried to play different scenarios, how we could have played things differently. I felt bad for Karch just because of what he’s done for us this year. I wanted to take it back somehow.”



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