A day after coming out on the winning end of a pitchers’ duel, the Valparaiso University baseball team brought the bats on Wednesday afternoon in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The Crusaders busted out for their most productive inning of the season by scoring five times in the fifth and never looked back on their way to a 16-3 rout of Pennsylvania.
How It Happened
- James Stea led off the game with an infield single, then stole both second and third and stood 90 feet away with two outs in the inning. Nate Palace came to the dish with a chance for a two-out RBI, and ended up with two of them as he lined a home run to left.
- The Crusaders (6-5) continued the two-out rally as Jake Hanson ripped a double and Sam Shaikin walked, but Jayden Eggimann flied to right to end the frame.
- Montana Quigley made his first start of the season for the Crusaders. He allowed runners to reach base in each of the first four innings, but worked out of all four frames unscathed.
- Giovanni Garbella stroked a single to left with one away in the fifth, driving in Stea and Riley Dent to double Valpo’s lead to four.
- Palace delivered again in the fifth, crushing a triple off the centerfield fence to score Garbella. Hanson followed with a sacrifice fly to drive in Palace and boost Valpo’s edge to six.
- The Crusaders tacked on a fifth fifth-inning run as Eggimann reached on an infield single, then advanced to second on an error that allowed Sam Shaikin to score, making it 7-0 Crusaders.
- Alex Dirienzo came out of the Valpo bullpen to heave a scoreless fifth, surrendering just one hit.
- The Crusaders did more damage in the sixth, as they tacked on three runs, all unearned. Patrick Donohue scored on a passed ball, then an error by the centerfielder allowed two more runners to cross the dish to expand the lead to 10.
- Junior Hayden Kissee, a transfer from Kaskaskia College, was sent to the bump for his Valpo debut in the sixth. The Quakers managed one unearned run against him to get on the board.
- Another hurler made his Crusader debut in the bottom of the seventh as freshman Jake Larson was inserted into the game. He yielded two runs on three hits and a walk, before notching an important strikeout to retire the side as Penn (0-5) stranded runners at second and third.
- Stea ripped his first home run of the season with one away in the eighth, a two-run blow with Donohue along for the ride to make it 12-3.
- The Quakers loaded the bases against James Meyer with nobody out in the eighth, but Ellis Foreman came in and wiggled out of the jam without yielding any damage.
- Valpo’s third home run of the day came off the bat of Hanson in the top of the ninth. With Palace at first, he clobbered a two-run blow to make it 14-3.Valpo added two more in the ninth as Stea and Dawson laced run-scoring singles, building the lead to 16-3.
- Luke VanLanen came on to work the bottom of the ninth, but the inning was still in progress when the game was called by darkness.
Inside the Game
- Palace launched his third home run of the season, helping him bounce back from an 0-for-4 performance on Tuesday, his first hitless game of the year. Palace’s triple in the fifth was his 10th extra-base hit in 11 games this season.
- Stea’s two first-inning stolen bases helped him extend his team lead in that category. He has now swiped nine bases this year.
- Quigley was lifted after four innings. He allowed three hits and two walks but no runs while striking out four.
- Quigley, a sophomore, made three starts last season. The four innings matched the longest outing of his collegiate career.
- Dent’s single in the second was the first hit of his collegiate career as he made just his third appearance. His fifth-inning run also marked the first of his college career.
- The Crusaders have a winning record through 11 games for the first time since 1997. The last time Valpo had such a strong start to the season, this year’s freshmen and many of the sophomores were not even born.
- The 16-run output was Valpo’s highest of the season, shattering its previous high of nine.
- Stea’s home run was his first of the year and the second of his Crusader career. The last time he went yard was his first series in a Valpo uniform on Feb. 21, 2016 against Jacksonville State.
- Hanson’s long ball was also his first of the season and the third of his collegiate career. Both prior home runs came a year ago.
- Dirienzo earned the win in relief since Quigley didn’t go the required five innings, while Mitchell Holcomb took the loss for Penn.
- Stea, Garbella, Palace and Hanson drove in three runs apiece for the Crusaders. Stea and Donohue had three hits each, while Stea scored four runs.
The Crusaders will begin a three-game series at South Florida on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Central Time. Links to live audio and stats for all three games can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.