The Valparaiso University baseball team started its spring trip in style on Friday evening in Jacksonville, Fla., prevailing 6-3 in a 10-inning contest. The Crusaders have won back-to-back games, including Friday’s win over an Atlantic Sun contender and strong warm-weather foe.
How It Happened
- The first run of the game came in the top of the second inning, when a pair of Jacksonville (5-5) miscues gifted Valpo (3-4) the early edge. Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) was awarded first base after being hit by a pitch to start the inning, and then eventually scored on an error by the Dolphins’ third baseman on a ground ball by Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper).
- Valpo starting pitcher Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) yielded back to-to-back singles to begin the bottom of the second inning, creating a quality scoring chance for Jacksonville. The Dolphins bunted the runners over, then scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Mike Cassala.
- Chris Gau followed with a base on balls, then Dakota Julylia stepped in and spanked a run-scoring single to put the Dolphins ahead 2-1.
- Losi didn’t face any more major trouble until the sixth inning, when he issued a one-out walk followed by a single, leading to his departure. Michael Mommersteeg (St. Thomas, Ont., Canada / St. Joseph’s) came in and got two critical outs to keep it a one-run affair after six.
- Meanwhile, the Crusader offense couldn’t find a solution for Jacksonville starter Michael Baumann. After giving up the second-inning run, Baumann sent down 14 straight Crusaders.
- Valpo wasn’t sorry to see Baumann go when he was lifted after six dazzling innings in favor of reliever Mark Potter. The Crusaders greeted Potter with two runs on three hits and one error in the seventh.
- Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian) cranked up the rally by stroking a single, then Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) bunted Hanson into scoring position. Two batters later, Fitzsimmons came through with a base knock up the middle, driving in Hanson to tie the game at two. Fitzsimmons advanced to third on an error by the centerfielder.
- Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) followed with a single that drove in Fitzsimmons for an unearned run and allowed Valpo to gain a 3-2 edge.
- After Mommersteeg and Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas / Stony Point) combined to work a scoreless seventh, Valpo threatened in the eighth as James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos [Golden West]) was hit by a pitch and stole second. He was left stranded at second.
- The Dolphins evened the score in the bottom of the eighth, when Mike Cassala doubled against Foreman to score Sam Armstrong. Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) came in to pitch for Valpo and notched two important outs to keep the game tied.
- Neither team scored in the ninth, sending the Crusaders to extra innings for the first time this season. Valpo posted a three spot in the 10th inning, as Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) lashed a run-scoring single, Shaikin ripped a run-scoring hit and Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
- Freshman Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) came on and sealed the deal in the bottom of the ninth, as he sent down the side in order to notch his second save of the season.
Inside the Game
- No Crusader had a multi-hit performance, but seven Valpo players had hits.
- Fitzsimmons drove in two runs and scored one.
- Losi did not factor into the decision. He allowed two runs (both earned) on five hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
- Mommersteeg tossed a scoreless frame out of the bullpen, while Rhodehouse was credited with his first victory of the year after working 1 2/3 scoreless frames.
- Spencer Stockton yielded three earned runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings and was hit with the loss out of the Jacksonville bullpen.
- Baumann, the Jacksonville starter, received no decision despite six strong innings. He struck out 11 and allowed just one unearned run on no hits and one walk.
- Jacksonville’s Sam Armstrong and Mike Cassala were the only players on either team with multi-hit games. Cassala had three hits, while Armstorng posted two.
- The Crusaders had three stolen bases in the game, two by Stea.
The Crusaders and Dolphins will go at it in Game 2 of the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT. Wes Gordon gets the ball for the Crusaders, while lefty Casey Kulina is slated to get the nod for Jacksonville. Links to live audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.