Valparaiso, Ind. - Host Valparaiso used a three-run seventh inning and a two-run eighth to overcome a four-run Butler lead in the opening game of a doubleheader to escape with a 7-6 victory before riding a four-run seventh frame in the night-cap to erase a one-run Bulldog advantage and finish with a 6-3 decision on Sunday (May 10) afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field.
The Crusaders spoiled a pair of strong starts by Butler pitchers, as both right-hander Mike Hernandez and southpaw Matt Sokolowski held Valpo in check through the first six innings before running into trouble in the seventh.
In the opener, Hernandez allowed just two runs on seven hits through the first six frames.
Meanwhile, the Butler bats gave the righty a comfortable 6-2 cushion thanks to some early offense.
The Bulldogs jumped for a first-inning lead after Grant Fillipitch roped a two-out double before coming home on an RBI single to right by Kyle Schultz. Butler added another run in the second after Bobby Mosser picked up a one-out single, stole second and sprinted home on a double to left by Jason Jamerson.
Butler continued to add to the scoring in the third, as Fillipitch led off the frame with a double before coming in on another RBI hit by Schultz. An ensuing single by Michael Letzter and a walk to Alex Montagano set up a bases loaded situation with no one out, but the Crusaders managed dodge a big inning by allowing just one more run to score on a double-play before escaping the inning.
The Bulldogs took a 6-1 lead in the contest an inning later, as Jamerson led off with a single, moved to second on a fly-out and third on a fielder's choice before sprinting home on a double steal with Rick Betsch. Fillipitch drove in the sixth run on a single back up the middle to put Butler on top by five.
Valparaiso cut into the lead with a run in the bottom of the fifth, closed to within one thanks to a three-spot in the seventh and went ahead for good in the eighth with two more runs.
Fillipitch finished the game with three hits and two runs scored, while Schultz, Letzter and Jamerson each added two hits apiece.
The second contest saw the Bulldogs once again go ahead only to have the Crusaders rally later for the win.
The Crusaders were the first to strike in the finale, plating single runs in the third and fourth before the Bulldogs went to work in the sixth.
A walk to Montagano, an infield single by Letzter and another free pass to Jamerson loaded the bases for Brian Padove, who drew the third walk of the inning with two down to force in a run and cut the deficit in half. Luke Duncan followed with a base on balls of his own to drive in the tying run, but the Bulldogs would be unable to capitalize further, as Valparaiso earned a force at second to end the inning.
Butler would take the lead in the seventh, as Fillipitch led off with a single before moving to second on a ground-out by Schultz. Montagano followed with a grounder to second that the second baseman mishandled, allowing Fillipitch to scamper home with the go-ahead run.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as the Crusaders responded with a four-run bottom of the seventh that put the game away.
The late rally spoiled an otherwise impressive outing for Sokolowski, who allowed just two runs on four hits through the first six innings.
Fillipitch led offense with two of the team's four hits in the game.
Butler returns to action on Tuesday (May 12) when it closes out the home season against nationally-ranked Eastern Illinois beginning at 3:00 p.m. at Bulldog Park.