Baseball sweeps Saturday doubleheader over Valpo for eighth consecutive win

Ben McQuown (photo by Bennett Scarborough)
Ben McQuown (photo by Bennett Scarborough)

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BUIES CREEK – Michael Felton (Tempe, Ariz.) came through with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader to propel the Camels to a 3-2 victory over Valparaiso. Campbell then took an early lead in the second game and held on for a 7-3 win to secure the series sweep and push the CU winning streak to eight games, the longest for the program since 2000.

Campbell moves to 13-3 on the season, while Valparaiso falls to 4-10. The Camels return to action on Tuesday evening, hosting Rider at 6 p.m. The Crusaders return to the diamond on Monday afternoon at Winthrop. 

Game 1: Campbell 3, Valparaiso 2

Saturday's first game proved to be a pitcher's duel between Campbell starter Frank Zier (Frederick, Md.) and Valpo hurler Kevin Wild. Zier saw his 20-inning scoreless streak come to an end after he departed in the eighth, but scattered just four hits over his seven-plus innings pitched, striking out seven Crusader batters while walking none.

Campbell pushed two runs across in the fourth inning, with Felton lining a one-out single to start the rally. Jake Kirkland (Pauline, S.C.) laced an RBI double down the right field line to score Felton and put the Camels on the board before David Olson brought Kirkland to the plate with an RBI single. CU left three runners on base in the frame, and the 2-0 lead stood until the eighth inning.

Zier followed up his complete game shutout from this past Monday with another solid effort, not allowing more than one Crusader to reach base in any inning. He was removed after giving up a double to John Loeffler to begin the eighth inning, and when Loefller later scored on a Kyle Schneider sacrifice fl, it ended an outstanding run of twenty consecutive shutout innings tossed by Zier.

The right-hander would have to settle for a no decision as the Crusaders tied the game at 2-2 on Will Hagel's RBI single to the shortstop. Valpo left three runners on base in the inning as Camel reliever Matt Marksberry forced a groundout to get out of trouble.

Valpo starter Kevin Wild matched Zier's effort during the game, surrendering five hits and two runs in his seven innings on the mound. Wild walked three Camel hitters and struck out four. He also took a no decision, giving way to Zack Walsh in the eighth.

Walsh quickly recorded two outs in the bottom of the ninth before Jimmy Brenneman (West Chester, Ohio) reached on an error by the third baseman. Ben McQuown (Waianae, Hawaii) then singled to send Brenneman to third and set the stage for Felton's walk-off single. It was the second consecutive walk-off for the Camels after Kirkland's tenth inning homer the night before. Marksberry (1-0) picked up the win for CU while Walsh (0-1) was credited with the loss for Valpo. McQuown, Felton and Kyle Holmstrom (Livermore, Calif.) all finished the game with two hits for the hosts. 

Game 2: Campbell 7, Valparaiso 3

The nightcap saw Campbell jump out to a 6-1 lead after two innings as the Camels scored early on Crusader starter Ben Mahar. Brenneman opened the game advancing on a hit by pitch, his sixth of the season after leading the country in that category last season.

After McQuown sacrificed him to second base, Brenneman stole third and was brought home on Felton's RBI single to left field. Kirkland followed with an RBI hit of his own before Blake Boyce came through with a two RBI single through the right side to give CU an early 4-0 advantage. Boyce finished the game three-for-four with three RBI.

Valpo got one run back in the second, bringing a leadoff walk to Billy Cribbs around to score on Elliott Martin's single to left center, drawing the Crusaders with three runs for a short time.

The Camels scored two more in the bottom of the frame, again putting the leadoff batter on off a hit by pitch. After Holmstrom advanced on his third hit by pitch of the season and was sacrificed to second base by Cam'Ron Summers (Muskogee, Okla.), Brenneman advanced via another HBP. Felton eventually singled to right field, scoring two runs to make the CU advantage 6-1.

Valparaiso would threaten again in the seventh, scoring twice on three hits and one error. Heath Bowers (Lillington, N.C.) got his second start of the season for Campbell and worked out of trouble in the inning, leaving two Crusaders on base. Bowers tossed seven innings, allowing eight hits and three runs (two earned) to move to 2-0 on the season, striking out three and walking one batter.

Andrew Jacobsen entered in relief and tossed two innings of one-hit ball for Campbell, striking out two batters to seal the Camel sweep. Felton finished the second game three-for-five with three RBI and one run scored, improving his season average to a team-best .455 for CU.