Friday’s game at Eck Stadium featured no shortage of late drama, as the Valparaiso University baseball team put together a thrilling rally for two runs in the top of the ninth to take a 3-2 lead over Wichita State, only to see the Shockers bounce back with two of their own in the bottom of the frame. The game culminated with a two-out, walk-off single through the left side by Travis Young, giving the Shockers a 4-3 win.
How It Happened
- Sophomore Scott Kapers (Mount Carmel / Schererville, Ind.) singled to lead off the third, marking the first base runner by either team in the game. He moved up to second on a sac bunt by Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect) and Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) drew a one-out walk, but Wichita State (11-14) turned an inning-ending double play.
- Valpo (10-13) starting pitcher Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) sent down the first eight men he faced, but No. 9 hitter Jordan Boyer grounded a single up the middle with two down in the third for the Shockers’ first base runner. Losi induced a fly ball to right to end the inning.
- Alec Bohm belted a two-run shot to left-center with one out in the bottom of the fourth to give the Shockers a 2-0 lead. Greyson Jensita, who drew the first walk of the day for either team, was along for the ride. The Crusaders eventually got out of the fourth inning by turning their fourth double play in the last two games, 6-4-3, despite the fact that the runner was in motion from first.
- Wichita State’s Jordan Boyer smoked a two-out triple to deep left in the fifth, but Losi rebounded to induce a pop fly for the third out.
- The Crusaders had a man reach scoring position in the top of the seventh as Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) worked a walk, then moved to second on a bouncer to third. However, Lewis induced a fly ball followed by a ground ball to get out of the inning unscathed.
- Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) singled to lead off the eighth, then Kapers followed by drawing a base on balls. The Shockers pulled Landon Holifield from the game, then inserted lefty Reagan Biechler for a one-batter assignment. He pitched to Donohue, who laid down a sacrifice bunt to move runners to second and third.
- Giovanni Garbella ripped a sharp single to left to drive in Shaikin. Kapers held at third, representing the tying run with one away.
- James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos [Golden West]) laid down a bunt, as the Crusaders attempted a safety squeeze, but Kapers was cut down at the plate on a close play for the second out of the inning. A wild pitch allowed runners to advance to second and third, but Jacob bounced out to second to end the threat.
- After allowing the two-run blow in the fourth, Losi dealt for the remainder of his outing. At one point, he sent down nine straight.
- Nate Palace (West Lake Village, Calif. / Oaks Christian) put Wichita State pitching back on the ropes in the ninth, when he grounded a single through the hole on the left side of the infield for a leadoff single. Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North) followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Palace to second with one out.
- That set up some clutch hitting by senior Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian), who belted a double to the gap in right center, plating Palace to tie the game.
- Shaikin went the other way with a single down the right field line to score Hanson, giving Valpo its first lead of the game at 3-2.
- Kapers kept the ninth-inning hit parade going as he singled to right, allowing Shaikin to scamper to third, but the Crusaders could do no further damage.
- Freshman closer Jon Tieman issued a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, then fell behind the next batter before giving up a fly ball that was caught in deep left-center, just shy of the track.
- That prompted Valpo head coach Brian Schmack to remove Tieman and insert Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) with one out and one on. Alex Jackson and Trey Vickers greeted Rhodehouse with back-to-back hits, the second of which scored the tying run. Rhodehouse followed with a big strikeout for the second out of the inning, but Young’s single through the left side altered the Shockers’ mode from shocked to celebratory.
Inside the Game
- An illness to Chase Dawson required the Crusaders to make a few tweaks to their usual lineup. Kapers got the nod at second base, the first time in his collegiate career he’s played a position other than catcher. Hanson started at catcher for the second time this year.
- Losi was efficient early, as the first seven Wichita State batters saw 16 total pitches.
- Lewis was lifted after seven shutout innings. He allowed two hits, walked two and struck out a pair while receiving no decision.
- Garbella’s RBI was his eighth of the season in 19 games. Shaikin’s run scored was his 12th of the year.
- This outing marked quite the turnaround for Losi, who lasted just 1 1/3 innings at UIC last Friday. This was the first time since his sophomore year – May 9, 2015 – that Losi worked eight innings.
- Losi went eight innings and limited the Shockers to two runs (earned) on five hits and one walk while striking out five. He received no decision.
- Hanson, Shaikin and Kapers had two hits apiece for Valpo. Kapers enjoyed his fourth multi-hit game, Hanson his fifth and Shaikin his seventh.
- Ben Hecht was awarded the win in relief to improve to 1-1, while Rhodehouse was hit with the defeat to drop to 2-2.
The Crusaders and Shockers will do it again tomorrow with Game 2 in the series at Eck Stadium. The game has been moved up an hour and will now start at 1 p.m. CT due to the weather forecast. All three games in the series will be broadcast on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.