The Valparaiso University baseball team pounded out 15 hits on Sunday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala., as the Crusaders had seven players enjoy multi-hit days in a 9-5 victory over UAB. The win allowed Valpo to salvage one game in the three-game weekend series and achieve a Sunday triumph for the second consecutive week.
How It Happened
- After a quiet offensive showing on Saturday, Valpo (2-4) wasted little time cranking up the offense in Sunday’s series finale. Leadoff man James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos [Golden West]) walked, stole second and eventually scored the game’s first run on a single by freshman Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North).
- Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) followed with a base knock of his own, allowing Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif. / Oaks Christian) – who was intentionally walked – to trot across the dish and double Valpo’s lead.
- Valpo starting pitcher Grant Inman (Ft. Wayne, Ind. / Carroll) sent down the first eight batters he opposed, before facing his first jam of the day when Brewer Hicklen notched a two-out two-bagger in the third. Colton Schultz popped up on the infield to end the inning and the threat.
- The score stayed 2-0 until the fifth, when the Blazers (5-2) this time decided to pitch to Palace with a runner on second and nobody out, and paid the price. Palace spanked a double to center, scoring Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) and expanding Valpo’s lead to three.
- The Crusaders had a chance for more in the fifth when Barczi singled and Shaikin walked to load the bags, but Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) bounced into a fielder’s choice and Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) lined into a double play to end the threat.
- Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas / Stony Point) took over for Inman in the sixth and kept the shutout intact by working around a one-out single as UAB stranded a man in scoring position.
- The top of the seventh inning had humble beginnings for the Crusaders, as it started with two outs and nobody on base. An error by UAB’s third baseman extended the inning and allowed Kapers to reach. Valpo took full advantage, eventually cashing in as an infield single by Stea scored two unearned runs and made it 5-0 Valpo.
- Foreman succumbed a run in the bottom of the seventh, as Hicklen ripped a two-out triple and scored on a wild pitch to snap the shutout.
- The Crusaders entered a wild eighth inning leading 5-1. They still owned a four-run edge after a lengthy inning that saw each team post four tallies.
- Shaikin launched a run-scoring double, followed by a Fitzsimmons run-scoring single to boost the lead to six. Then, Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) broke it wide open with a two-out, two-run single to make it 9-1.
- Foreman got the first out of the eighth, but then allowed back-to-back singles and was removed. Nick Leaverton (Mission Viejo, Calif. / Capistrano Valley) walked the only man he faced to load the bases, before Montana Quigley (Lake Forest, Calif. / El Toro) came on and issued a bases-loaded base on balls to force in a run. A run-scoring grounder by Stephen Dobbs followed, then Brett Blackwood came through with a two-run, two-out single to cut Valpo’s edge back to four.
- Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) was called upon to pitch the ninth. He did surrender a two-out double, but was able to seal the deal in a non-save situation.
Inside the Game
- In both series so far this season, the Crusaders have salvaged a Sunday win after dropping the first two games.
- The 15 hits marked a season high. It was Valpo’s highest total since also racking up 15 in the Horizon League semifinal against Milwaukee last year.
- Inman twirled five shutout innings while allowing two hits and two walks. He notched five strikeouts while earning his second win in as many starts.
- Foreman was tagged with three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, Leaverton was charged with an earned run without recording an out and Quigley yielded one run in 2/3 innings.
- UAB starter Ryan Ruggles was hit with the loss after allowing two runs on three hits and three walks in three innings. Adam Lamar struggled in relief, allowing four earned runs on five hits in the eighth inning. The four tallies in that frame proved to be the difference in the game.
- The top six batters in Valpo’s order finished with two hits apiece, as did Dawson, the No. 9 hitter. Stea, Shaikin and Dawson drove in two runs each.
- Shaikin and Palace each had doubles, the only extra-base hits of the day for the Crusaders.
The Crusaders will begin their Spring Break trip on Friday, March 3 at Jacksonville at 5 p.m. CT. This marks the first of eight straight games in the state of Florida. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.