The Valparaiso University baseball team ran into a red-hot South Florida squad on Friday evening in Tampa as USF pulled away for an 11-2 victory. The Bulls improved to 13-1 and extended their best start in school history, while the Crusaders slipped to 6-6 on the year. Junior Chad Jacob cracked a two-run homer in the ninth that got Valpo on the board.
How It Happened
- The two teams exchanged scoring chances that came up empty over the first two innings. After Valpo was quiet in the top of the first, USF threatened with runners at first and third and two down in the bottom of the first, but Mario Losi induced an inning-ending ground ball.
- Valpo had something brewing in the second inning, stringing together three consecutive one-out base runners. Jake Hanson was hit by a pitch, Sam Shaikin doubled and Chad Jacob drew a base on balls. However, Scott Kapers bounced into a fielder’s choice and Patrick Donohue struck out as USF starter Phoenix Sanders wiggled away without yielding a run.
- The Bulls left another man in scoring position in the bottom of the second, as a two-out double by Tyler Dietrich went to waste. After Valpo went down in order in the third, the Bulls broke through in the home half of the inning. Kevin Merrell blasted a two-bagger then crossed the dish on a single to right by Coco Montes. Montes eventually scored as David Villar lifted a sacrifice fly.
- The Bulls added on in the bottom of the fourth, when Dietrich delivered another double and Garrett Zech stroked a single to drive him in.
- Kapers started the fifth inning with a double, but was left stranded at third. The Bulls added another tally in the bottom of the fifth as Chris Chatfield lifted a sacrifice fly.
- The Bulls poured on three additional runs in the bottom of the sixth against Chet Joslyn, who came on in relief of Losi.
- Alex Dirienzo worked a scoreless seventh and notched the first out of the eighth. He did not allow a hit and issued one walk while striking out two.
- Garrett Hill was summoned into the game in the eighth and allowed four runs in 2/3 of an inning, but all four were unearned. That boosted USF’s advantage to 11-0.
- The first two batters of the top of the ninth were retired, but Shaikin drew a two-out walk to extend the game and set up the Jacob home run.
Inside the Game
- Jacob launched the first long ball of his collegiate career in his first game since Feb. 26. He missed the last five games due to an injury.
- Kapers’ double to lead off the fifth was his first of the year and his first extra-base knock since he launched a home run on Opening Day.
- Shaikin now has three doubles this year, second on the team behind Nate Palace’s five.
- Losi took the defeat after allowing four runs (three earned) on 10 hits in five innings. He struck out two and issued one walk. Losi’s record is now 0-2 on the year.
- Phoenix Sanders notched the victory to increase his record to 2-0. He worked seven shutout innings and yielded four hits while walking one and striking out 10.
The Crusaders will continue the three-game series at South Florida on Saturday evening. The first pitch is slated for 5:30 p.m. with links to live audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.