The Valparaiso University baseball team sustained its status as an early-season offensive juggernaut on Saturday night at GCU Ballpark in Phoenix, Ariz., downing host Grand Canyon 12-6. Valpo scored three runs in the second, four in the third and three in the fourth before cruising to the victory.
How It Happened
- After the two teams exchanged first-inning goose eggs, the Crusaders (3-5) started the scoring in the second. Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) clubbed a double down the left-field line to drive in Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North), who started the inning with a leadoff single to right. Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) singled home a pair on a ball that deflected off the pitcher, allowing the Crusaders to enjoy an early 3-0 edge.
- That lead vanished right away in the bottom of the inning, when the Antelopes (3-7) touched starting pitcher Trey Ferketic (Laguna Niguel, Calif. / JSerra [UC San Diego]) for five runs on five hits. Quin Cotton had a two-out, two-run triple to left for the big blow of the frame.
- After coming from down nine in the ninth to tie it on Friday against CSUN, a two-run deficit in the early stages of the game was no major issue for the Crusaders. They again showed their resilience with a four-run third, grabbing a 7-5 edge in what was a see-saw affair early.
- The third inning started with three consecutive doubles by Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth), Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission] and Barczi to tie the game at five. Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) and Eggimann added RBI singles later in the inning, giving Valpo a 7-5 lead.
- Billinger and Barczi had back-to-back doubles for the second straight inning in the fourth, boosting the advantage to 8-5. Jacob and Kapers tacked on RBI singles, opening the edge to five runs.
- The Crusaders weren’t done scoring yet as they responded to an unearned Grand Canyon run in the bottom of the fourth with a tally of their own in the top of the fifth. That came by virtue of a bases-loaded hit by pitch for Zack Leone (Pelham Manor, N.Y. / Fordham Prep [Susquehanna]).
- Valpo scored for the fifth straight inning in the sixth, as Shaikin singled up the middle to plate Kapers and make it 12-6. That would mark the extent of the scoring in the game.
- Outside of the one bad inning in the second, Ferketic threw five innings without allowing an earned run and yielded just one hit. Including the second inning, the Valpo right-hander went six innings and allowed six runs (five earned) on six hits, picking up the win to improve to 2-0.
- The Crusaders got Grand Canyon starter Jake Repavich (0-1) out of the game after only 2 1/3 innings of seven-run, nine-hit baseball.
- Hayden Kissee (Cumberland, Ind. / Greenfield Central [Kaskaskia College]) and Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) combined for three scoreless frames in relief for the Crusaders.
Inside the Game
- Valpo banged out a season-high 18 hits and have had 10+ hits in seven straight games.
- The Crusaders had two players both lash out four hits in Saturday’s win – Shaikin and Kapers. They have already had four players with four hits or more in games this season. For comparison, Valpo didn’t have any player notch a four-hit game in 2017.
- Billinger remained a doubles machine and now has five in the last two game alone. As a team, Valpo had seven doubles on Saturday against Grand Canyon.
- Barczi enjoyed his best offensive day of the season, going 3-for-4 with three runs scored.
The GCU Classic continues on Sunday as the Crusaders play CSUN at noon CT and Grand Canyon at 4 p.m. CT. RHP Wes Gordon will take the ball for the opener, while lefty Michael Mommersteeg will do so against the Antelopes. The game against Grand Canyon will have video via YouTube Live while both games will feature live stats.