The Valparaiso University baseball team dropped the rubber match of a three-game weekend series at Granderson Stadium 8-1 to UIC on Sunday afternoon. The Flames jumped in front with two runs in the first inning and later pulled away on a pair of late two-run home runs.
How It Happened
- The Flames (13-7, 5-1 Horizon) got on the board first as Rob Calabrese clubbed a two-run double to the gap in left in the first inning. David Cronin and Thomas Norton both scampered home to give the Flames a 2-0 lead. They had a chance for more with runners at second and third and one away, but Valpo starter Michael Mommersteeg (St. Thomas, Ont., Canada / St. Joseph’s) notched a timely strikeout followed by a ground ball to short.
- The Crusaders (8-13, 1-5 Horizon) threatened in the second with runners at first and second and nobody out, but Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) hit a sharp ground ball to second for a 4-3 double play, then Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect) lined to left to end the threat.
- An incredible diving stop by UIC third baseman Thomas Norton on a one-hop smash by Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif. / Oaks Christian) took a base hit away from the Valpo senior, costing the Crusaders a run in the third. Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) was left stranded at second after ripping a single up the middle and advancing to second on a passed ball.
- Junior Alex Dirienzo (Somerset, Pa. / Somerset [Akron]) came on in relief of Mommersteeg with two on and one away in the third. He walked the first man he faced, but then induced a sharp ground ball to Palace at first that turned into a 3-2-3 inning-ending twin killing.
- A bloop single, sacrifice bunt and single to right by Cody Bohanek allowed the Flames to produce a run in the fourth, making it 3-0 UIC.
- The Flames boosted the lead to four in the fifth, when they added a run against Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas / Stony Point) on a 6-5 fielder’s choice bouncer by Ricardo Ramirez that plated Scott Ota, who had walked to start the inning.
- The Crusaders got on the board for the first time in the seventh on a sharp single through the right side by Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) that plated Kapers. The Crusaders had a chance for more, but stranded men at first and third and trailed 4-1.
- Luke VanLanen (Pulaski, Wis. / Pulaski) came in to work the bottom of the seventh. He retired the first batter he faced, but then allowed a single to Calabrese followed by a pitch that Ramirez deposited into the left-field bullpen for a two-run homer to make it 6-1 UIC.
- Cronin blasted a tape measure two-run homer to right against Valpo freshman Garrett Hill (San Marino, Calif. / Chatsworth) in the eighth, expanding UIC’s lead to 8-1.
- The Crusaders loaded the bases in the top of the ninth, but failed to score.
Inside the Game
- The first-inning runs were the first earned tallies allowed by Mommersteeg all season. The freshman southpaw had heaved 14 1/3 scoreless frames before making his first career weekend start on Sunday.
- Mommersteeg left after 2 1/3 innings. He was charged with two runs (two earned) on three hits while issuing four walks and striking out two. He was hit with the defeat, his first decision of the year.
- Freshman Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North) has played in just six games in a Valpo uniform and has multiple hits in two of them. An infield single in the eighth capped his first career three-hit performance.
- Jacob, playing in only his 10th game after missing time with a wrist injury, picked up his 10th RBI of the year. He had his fifth multi-hit game of the season.
- Grant Inman (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll) was the only Crusader to work an easy inning, sending down the Flames in order in the sixth.
- UIC’s Andersen (1-1) picked up the win with six-plus innings of one-run, six-hit ball.
The Crusaders return to the diamond on Wednesday in West Lafayette, Ind. as they lock horns with Purdue. The first pitch is slated for 5 p.m. CT. Links to live video, audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.