Valley pulls off second straight sweep

Thursday, April 17, 2003
Senior Josh Miller

The whipping sticks the Missouri Valley College baseball team pulled out Sunday to score 28 runs during a doubleheader sweep of Lindenwood were in even greater use two days later.

Senior Josh Miller drilled four homers out of tiny Osage Field during the Vikings' Heart of America Conference romps over Evangel, 16-5 and 15-10. It was the largest tally Valley has put together in back-to-back games this season.

Sophomore Chad Hoffman smashed a solo shot and freshman J.D. Lawrence tripled in a run and scored to give the Crusaders a 3-1 lead in the top of the second inning, but that was their last hurrah. Senior Colin Rudko tied the game with a two-run, two-out single in the bottom half of the set, and the Vikings weren't close to done. Junior Brent Phelan walked and junior Chris Becker tripled to plate two runners. Miller and senior Brad Hertel followed with homers to complete a seven-run spree.

Senior Luis Suarez's RBI double, a run-scoring single by junior Mike Serrata and Miller's three-run blast highlighted the Vikings' fifth inning -- which saw their lead expand to 10 runs. Rudko knocked in two runners with a triple and scored on Becker's sacrifice fly to make it 16-3 heading into the top of the fifth.

Hoffman led off what would be Evangel's last chance with a dinger and singles by senior Marc Dobberstein and Lawrence and sophomore Ryan Hesse's double brought in another run. A walk loaded the bases and junior starter Jason Simon gave way to freshman Nick Bowers, who got senior Jeremy McCoy -- the Crusaders' top slugger -- to ground out to junior third baseman Brian Franco to end the game on the "10-run rule."

Evangel quickly shook off the disappointing opener -- in which it stranded 12 runners on base in five innings -- and began the nightcap with a five-run charge, three coming in on sophomore Jeff Rivera's homer.

That didn't faze Valley. A walk, error and singles by Phelan, Becker, Hertel, freshman Jordan Lundberg and Suarez closed the deficit to one run in the bottom of the first.

Senior Frank Tristan opened up a 7-4 gap with a two-run double in the second, but the Vikings got triples from Rudko and Hertel and two-run homers by Miller and Lundberg to pull ahead by two.

With freshman Rafael Licea tossing three scoreless innings of relief, MVC built a comfortable cushion. Miller went yard and Lundberg doubled and scored on junior Justin Clift's single in the fourth. Becker and Hertel doubled, Lundberg singled and Clift brought in two with a bomb for a 15-7 spread after five innings.

Junior Joel Bertrand started the sixth and was roughed up, Lawrence going deep and McCoy plating two with a double before the frame ended. However, with a five-run lead, Valley head coach Dan Bowers called on junior closer Pat Frost to pitch the seventh -- and he held the Crusaders (13-24, 3-11 HAAC) hitless, striking out two.

The Vikings have now won five in a row, a sorely-needed streak considering their current place in the NAIA Region V rankings -- tied for fifth with William Woods, but trailing four other league teams. Valley is scheduled to go to Lincoln for a non-conference set Friday before traveling Saturday to No. 3 Culver-Stockton -- a rematch of last year's regional tourney finals, won by the Wildcats.

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