A big third inning for South Florida doomed the Valparaiso University baseball team on Saturday evening at USF Baseball Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Bulls tallied five runs in the third to snap a 1-1 tie, then held on for an eventual 8-1 win over the Crusaders.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (6-7) manufactured a first-inning run to grab their first lead of the series. James Stea played a key role in the run, as he drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a ground ball by Chase Dawson, stole third and then scored on a ground ball to second by Giovanni Garbella.
- The lead was short-lived as the Bulls (14-1) did their own run manufacturing in the bottom of the frame. Kevin Merrell banged a double to start the inning and eventually crossed the dish on a sacrifice fly by Luke Borders.
- The Crusaders had a golden opportunity in the top of the third. They were handed a bases full chance after drawing three walks, but walked away empty handed.
- The pivotal frame was the bottom of the third as six hits and two errors helped the Bulls score five times against Valpo starter Wes Gordon, chasing him from the game. The first run scored on a Crusader error, then Duke Stunkel connected on a run-scoring single, David Villar ripped a two-run double to center and Chris Chatfield singled to left to score Villar.
- Michael Mommersteeg came in to replace Gordon and eventually faced a bases loaded, one-out jam, but he worked out of the inning without further damage. By the time the inning ended, 11 men had come to the plate.
- Mommersteeg remained in the game for the fourth and fifth and flipped zeros in both frames.
- Dawson singled up the middle to lead off the sixth for Valpo, breaking up Shane McClanahan’s no-hit bid. An error by the Bulls placed runners at second and third with one out, but Joe Cavallaro came in to pitch and wiggled out of the jam.
- Ellis Foreman pitched the sixth and seventh for Valpo and allowed no runs on just one hit.
- Easton Rhodehouse saw his scoreless innings streak snapped as he allowed two runs to score in the bottom of the eighth, the first time he’s been scored upon this season. However, his own throwing error led to the damage, so he still has yet to permit an earned tally in 2017.
- Sam Shaikin singled with two outs and the bases empty in the ninth, allowing the Crusaders to avoid being one-hit for the first time since April 18, 2014.
Inside the Game
- Gordon was hit with the defeat after being charged with six runs (four earned) on six hits and one walk in 2 1/3 innings. He dropped to 0-2 on the year.
- McClanahan (3-0) issued four walks but also notched five strikeouts while yielding just one run (earned) on one hit in 5 1/3 innings to pick up the win and become the first USF hurler to capture his third victory this year.
- Mommersteeg was strong out of the bullpen, going 2 2/3 shutout frames and yielding just two hits. He has tossed 9 2/3 innings this year and has not surrendered a run.
- Stea extended his on-base streak to 12 games, but his team-long seven-game hitting streak came to an end.
- The Crusaders drew six walks in the game, their highest total since drawing seven on Feb. 26 against UAB.
The Crusaders will round out the three-game series at South Florida on Sunday afternoon. The first pitch is slated for noon CT with links to live audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.