If college baseball clubs who call cold-weather areas home are supposed to struggle offensively early in the season, nobody bothered to tell the Valparaiso University baseball team. There was no time for basking in the glory of a signature win over Oklahoma, a Big 12 team that had the third-most votes of teams outside the Top 25 in the USA Today Baseball Coaches Poll, on Saturday evening. Instead, the Crusaders were back on the field less than an hour later, whitewashing another team that went to the NCAA Tournament last year in a 20-6 win over defending Patriot League champion Holy Cross.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (2-3) scored a first-inning run for the fourth time in five games this season, this time on a solo big fly off the bat of junior Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth). That marked the third first-inning home run of the season and the second of the day for Valpo.
- The score remained 1-0 until the fourth as sophomore Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) stymied the Holy Cross Crusaders in each of the first three frames. Then Valpo’s offense did its thing, putting up a five spot in the fourth. Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) delivered the big blow of the inning, a bases-clearing triple to right center.
- After Tieman worked around a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the fourth, the Crusaders came back into the dugout for the top of the fifth. And then would remain at the plate for a long time, as they racked up an eight-run fifth inning.
- Shaikin doubled down the left field line to drive in the first two of the marathon frame, and later Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) added a two-run, two-bagger. Then the biggest blow happened when catcher Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) belted a three-run bomb, expanding the Valpo lead to 14-0.
- The Crusaders weren’t done yet, as they pushed across four more in the sixth, including a three-run blast by Zack Leone (Pelham Manner, N.Y. / Fordham Prep [Susquehanna]) that made it 18-0.
- Tieman (1-1) was touched for two runs in the bottom of the sixth, his final frame of work. He captured his first win of the season, scattering six hits and two walks while striking out three.
- Holy Cross (1-4) got three more in the seventh, but the Crusaders would coast to the victory.
- Valpo received two more runs in the top of the eighth by virtue of a pair of bases-loaded walks, lifting the lead to 20-5.
- Holy Cross got one run back against freshman Josh Currier (Mokena, Ill. / Lincoln Way Central), who made his collegiate debut in the bottom of the ninth, but he notched the final three outs to cap a memorable day for the Crusaders.
Inside the Game
- Not only did Valpo beat a pair of NCAA Regional teams from last season in the same day, but it also knocked off squads who were a week removed from wins over nationally-ranked teams. Oklahoma beat No. 20 Indiana on Opening Day, while Holy Cross lifted the lid on its season with a 3-2 win at No. 24 Houston.
- Zane Hedaya took the loss for Holy Cross on Saturday after allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits in 3 1/3 innings. Hedaya (1-1) was the reigning Patriot League Pitcher of the Week after he earned his first career win in a 3-2 victory at No. 24 Houston last week.
- The 20 runs were the most Valpo had scored in a game since posting 26 against Chicago State on April 2, 2010.
- Leone racked up four hits and five RBIs, both the most of any Crusader this season. In fact, he became the first Valpo player with a four-hit game since the 2016 campaign. He also drew three walks in the game, reaching base a total of seven times.
- Kapers chipped in three hits, the fourth three-hit game of his career.
- The Crusaders drew 18 walks as a team, more than they had in the first four games of the season combined (10). This was the most walks Valpo had in a game in at least 12 years.
- Shaikin’s home run was his second of the season after the first came earlier in the day. He now has six career long balls.
- Eggimann’s triple was the first of his Valpo career, while Leone’s big fly was his first. Kapers belted his first home run of the year and the fourth of his career.
Thoughts from Head Coach Brian Schmack
“It was a great day and a tremendous turnaround from last weekend. I thought it was a complete team effort in both games. We got some depth from our starters and we continued to hit the ball hard. I’m extremely proud of the way the guys played.”
The Crusaders will play a third and final game in Norman, Okla. on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. against the host Sooners. The game can be seen on Sooner Sports TV (subscription only), heard via Oklahoma Radio and followed via live stats.