Errors Costly in 6-2 Loss at Valparaiso
VALPARAISO, Ind.- Western Michigan couldn't maintain a 2-0 lead, dropping Tuesday's contest at Valparaiso, 6-2.
The Broncos' Dan Shutes scored unearned in the second inning after the Crusaders committed two errors. Ryan McMillin tripled to lead off the third and crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly by Patrick Duncan to put WMU ahead, 2-0.
Freshman left-handed pitcher Matt Nestor was impressive in his first career start, holding Valpo scoreless through five innings, scattering four hits and striking out two.
Valparaiso (12-19) was able to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth with sophomore right-handed reliever Monty Porter on the mound. The Crusaders hit three singles in the inning and Western Michigan had two fielding errors, enabling Valparaiso to score three runs, two of which were unearned.
The Crusaders blew the game open in the seventh, tacking on three more runs, two of which were charged to Porter and the third going to RHP Chris Bossenbery. Valpo loaded the bases on a bunt single, a base hit and a hit batsman. Chris Manning drove in one with a groundout and Billy Cribbs scored two with a single through the right side.
The Broncos had seven hits to Valpo's 11, and left 10 runners on base. Porter (0-1) took the loss on the mound, throwing an inning and a third.
Will Robinson (2-2) earned the victory for the Crusaders, throwing six innings and striking out five. He surrendered two runs and four hits.
"We figured out how to win seven in a row and now we have figured out how to lose five in a row," said WMU head coach Billy Gernon. "Regardless of the injuries we've sustained, we have to play better defense to win at our desired level. It's time for us to adjust our sails to the prevailing winds."
Freshman Andrew Sohn made his second-straight start at first base, in place of senior Troy Forton, who strained a muscle this past weekend in batting practice. The Broncos have also been without a big left-handed bat during the stretch of five losses, as senior right fielder Jack Scanlon is recovering from a hamstring injury. Senior third baseman Ryan McMillin came out of today's game after getting nicked on a hard hop in the sixth.
Western Michigan (14-15) heads to Notre Dame tomorrow for a 5:35 first pitch against the Fighting Irish. The Broncos face Toledo on the road over the weekend in a three-game Mid-American Conference series.
GAME NOTES: Senior 3B Ryan McMillin (1-for-3) extended his hitting streak to 23 games, and has reached safely in every contest but the season-opener at Arizona State ... McMillin's hitting streak ranks second all-time at WMU and is two shy of the career record of 25 held by Chris Lewis ... WMU and Valpo split the home-and-home series, WMU defeating the Crusaders in Kalamazoo April 3, 5-4.