Lorain, Ohio - A three-run seventh inning by Valparaiso spoiled an otherwise dominant performance on the hill by senior southpaw Matt Sokolowski, as the Bulldogs fell to the Crusaders, 4-2, in the consolation round of the U.S. Army Horizon League Baseball Championship on Thursday (May 21) afternoon at The Pipe Yard.
Sokolowski put together a strong outing for the Bulldogs, allowing just one run on five hits and no walks while striking out nine in his first six frames of work.
The Butler bats, meanwhile, picked up the first run of the game in the third. Jason Jamerson led off the inning with a double to left center before moving to third on a ground-out to first by Rick Betsch. After Luke Duncan worked a two-out walk to put runners on first and third, Grant Fillipitch fed a single through the right side that allowed Jamerson to sprint home for the 1-0 lead.
Valpo would be quick to respond, scoring the tying run on two hits in the bottom of the inning.
Kyle Schultz gave the Bulldogs a chance to reclaim the lead in the seventh, drawing a lead-off walk before moving to second on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Montagano and taking third on a ground-out by Jamerson, but the Butler infielder would be stranded there.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, took advantage of a pair of RBI hits and a wild pitch to cross home three times in the bottom of the seventh to take a 4-1 advantage.
Butler would not go quietly, though. Michael Letzter led off the ninth inning with a single to center before taking second on a wild pitch and moving to third on a single back up the middle from Colin Ziegel to put Bulldogs on first and third with no one out. Schultz brought Letzter in on a sac fly to left.
An ensuing strikeout put the Crusaders an out away from victory, but Jamerson kept the inning alive by reaching on an infield single to third that put the tying run on base. After Jamerson was lifted for pinch runner Tim Matheson, a wild pitch allowed Ziegel to move to third but Matheson was unable to make the break for second. Matheson would make his move later in the at bat, attempting to swipe second to put the tying run in scoring position, but the Valparaiso catcher made a strong throw down to second to catch the speedy Bulldog for the final out.
Fillipitch and Jamerson each boasted two hits in the contest, while Fillipitch and Schultz both tacked on RBI.
Ryan Kruszka came into the game in the seventh in relief of Sokolowski and held the Crusaders hitless over 1.2 innings.