The Valparaiso University baseball team continued its strong start to the season on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla., putting together some late-inning drama for the second consecutive contest. Valpo trailed 2-1 as late as the eighth inning, but scored a run in the eighth and three more in the ninth to beat the host Dolphins 5-2.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (4-4) got on the board in the first inning when Nate Palace spanked a one-out double, moved to third on an infield single by Giovanni Garbella and trotted across the dish on a sacrifice fly by Jake Hanson.
- Valpo starting pitcher Wes Gordon retired the side in order in the bottom of the first, before his Jacksonville (5-6) counterpart Chris Gau did the same in the top of the second.
- Jacksonville’s Sam Armstrong drilled a solo homer to begin the bottom of the second inning, tying the game at one.
- Palace ripped a two-out double in the third, but was left stranded. James Stea had walked earlier in the inning, but was caught stealing before Palace could unload the two-bagger.
- The Dolphins threatened against Gordon in the third, but he escaped a first-and-second one-out situation without yielding a run.
- Jacksonville took the lead in the fifth inning, when it settled for one run on three hits and a walk in the final inning of Gordon’s start.
- Chet Joslyn struck out the only man he faced in the sixth, before Montana Quigley came in and surrendered a hit and a walk, but no runs.
- Luke VanLanen hurled a scoreless seventh, before Easton Rhodehouse did the same in the eighth.
- Valpo notched an important eighth-inning tally to tie the game at two. Gau was still in the game in the eighth, which got off to a favorable start for the Dolphins with two outs and only one runner on base (Stea, who had reached on an infield single). But Garbella worked a walk and an error by Jacksonville’s third baseman allowed the tying run to score.
- Freshman Tyler Santana was summoned from the Jacksonville bullpen to pitch the ninth in a tied game. Jayden Eggimann reached on an infield single with one away, then Steven Fitzsimmons lashed a single to right, placing men at first and third.
- That led to a pitching change as Mike Cassala came in to pitch. Scott Kapers reached on a fielder’s choice bunt and Eggimann scampered home on an error by the catcher, an unearned tally. Chase Dawson grounded a single to the right side, driving in two pivotal two-out runs to boost Valpo’s lead to three.
- Stea followed with a single, but Dawson was cut down at the dish to end the frame.
- Freshman Jon Tieman took over for the ninth and nailed down his third save of the young season.
Inside the Game
- Rhodehouse earned his second win of the season by virtue of another scoreless relief appearance. He issued one walk but no hits or runs in a scoreless eighth to keep the game tied and set up the winning rally. Rhodehouse hasn’t allowed a run in the first 8 1/3 innings of his freshman season.
- VanLanen made just his second appearance, but came through with an important hold. He has not allowed a run in 1 2/3 frames this year.
- Gordon received no decision after scattering seven hits and yielding two earned runs in five innings. He struck out one and walked one.
- Palace put together yet another multi-hit day, going 2-for-4. He has multiple hits in five of his eight games this season.
- Dawson finished with two RBIs to double his season total to four.
The Crusaders and Dolphins will round out the three-game series on Sunday at noon CT as Grant Inman pitches against Casey Kulina. Live stats and audio will be available courtesy of Jacksonville Athletics. Links to the live coverage can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.