Flames Comeback Falls Short in 8-7 Loss to Valpo in HL Tourney

Junior Alex Jurich went 3-for-4 vs. Valpo in game two of the HL Tourney.
Junior Alex Jurich went 3-for-4 vs. Valpo in game two of the HL Tourney.

May 23, 2013

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NILES, Ohio – No. 2 seed UIC (26-27) nearly completed an impressive rally in the second game of the 2013 Horizon League Tournament against No. 3 seed Valparaiso (29-26) on Thursday afternoon, but fell one run shy as the Crusaders triumphed 8-7.  Facing an 8-2 deficit, the Flames rattled off five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning on five hits and had regained momentum.  Valpo’s bullpen weathered the storm and retired the final six UIC batters to advance in the winner’s bracket.

The Flames will now face No. 6 seed Youngstown State in an elimination game scheduled to start at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday night.  The host Penguins lost in the tournament opener to No. 5 seed Wright State by a final of 6-3. 

Junior Alex Jurich paced UIC at the plate by going 3-for-4 with a lone run and RBI.  Seniors Alex De LaRosa and Joe Betcher also tallied multiple hits with two apiece as senior Ryan Shober collected a team-high two RBI.

The Flames struck first in the second inning as Ryan Boss led off with a ground-rule double.  He was advanced to third on a single from De LaRosa and eventually scored on a groundout from Jurich.

Valpo got rolling in the fourth frame with three runs and went on to score five more over the next two innings.  UIC was able to plate a run in the bottom of the fifth off a sac fly from Betcher and after six frames, the Crusaders owned an 8-2 advantage.

That’s when UIC put up a five spot as Jurich singled to open the bottom of the seventh inning.  Senior Alex Grunenwald drove in the first run on a double down the left field line to score Jurich and was sent to third off a single from Betcher.  Both runners then scored as Shober doubled to left center, prompting Valpo to call upon reliever Ben Mahar.  Mahar walked Coen and then Zenon Kolakowski pushed Shober and Coen up one bag with a sac bunt.  The next batter, Tyler Detmer, was walked to load the bases and after a Boss line out, Shober scored on a hit-by-pitch from De LaRosa.  Jurich drove in the final run with a single through the left side as Coen trotted home safely.

Mahar stayed in through the eighth inning and then the Horizon League Relief Pitcher of the Year, Karch Kowalczyk, retired the UIC side in the ninth for his 10th save of the season.