NCAA baseball: Valpo’s season ends with loss to Austin Peay
By Andy Proffet Post-Tribune correspondent June 2, 2013 4:48PM
Spencer Mahoney, P.J. Torres
Updated: July 4, 2013 6:47AM
BLOOMINGTON — The downfall of Valparaiso’s baseball team all season has been leaving runners on base.
That flaw finished the Crusaders’ season on Sunday.
Valparaiso stranded 11 runners against Austin Peay, including a bases-loaded situation with one out in a tie game in the seventh inning, and lost 5-4 to the Governors in an elimination game Sunday afternoon in the NCAA baseball regional.
The win sent Austin Peay on to a game Sunday night against Indiana.
“Left on base, we’ve done that all year,” Valparaiso coach Tracy Woodson said. “That’s probably been our Achilles’ heel.
“We’ve got good hitters, just a tough situation (to be in). As a player, you want to thrive under those situations.”
Austin Peay (47-14) was playing less than 16 hours after getting pounded 15-6 Saturday night by the Hoosiers. And the Crusaders (32-28) looked to continue the pounding, jumping out to a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
Tanner Vavra legged out his second triple of the season to score Spencer Mahoney, then John Loeffler singled to score Vavra. Loeffler and Vavra each had two RBI Sunday, while Mahoney scored twice.
But the Governors chipped away, scoring once in the third and again in the fourth to tie the game. Two sacrifice flies in the bottom of the fifth, by Vavra and Loeffler, put Valparaiso back in front 4-2.
Austin Peay answered with scores in the sixth and seventh to tie the game at 4-4. Governors’ reliever Lee Ridenhour struck out leadoff batter Andrew Bain, then gave up consecutive singles to Mahoney and Vavra and walked Loeffler to load the bases with one out.
But Chris Manning popped out to short and Andy Burns, who had come in as a pinch runner for Elliott Martin in the sixth inning, struck out to end the inning.
“If they were able to get back on top right there, or to add, it might have broke our back,” Austin Peay coach Gary McClure said. “Lee did a great job picking us up, he made some outstanding pitches. Bases loaded, one out, he got us out of it.”
“Keep adding on, I tell them that every time,” Woodson said. “That’s been our problem all year, we have a tendency to hit a lull. You’ve got to step on their throat.”
Austin Peay did the stepping in the next inning, with leadoff hitter Michael Davis hitting a homerun to left field. It was his second game-winning home run of the weekend; he hit a three-run homer against Florida on Friday, also in the eighth inning.
The Crusaders had one last chance. After closer Tyler Rogers got the first two batters to ground out, he walked Loeffler and Manning reached on an error by third baseman Jordan Hankins.
But Andrew Bynum, pinch-hitting for Burns, grounded out to Rogers to end the game.
“I thought we were going to win until the third out was called,” Vavra said. “It’s a one-run ballgame and we have runners on first and second in the ninth and I didn’t have any doubts that we were still winning that ballgame.”
Rogers tied the NCAA single season record for saves with his 23rd. Ridenhour (8-1) picked up the win in relief of Ryan Quick, who gave up eight hits and four runs in 51/3 innings.
Valparaiso reliever Ben Mahar (3-3) took the loss in relief of Dalton Lundeen.