The Valparaiso University baseball team secured a win against a team from the Big Ten Conference for the third consecutive season, splitting Friday’s doubleheader at McLane Stadium in East Lansing by virtue of a 7-6 triumph in Game 2. The Crusaders dropped the opener 5-4 in a 12-inning marathon before starting pitcher Trey Ferketic (Laguna Niguel, Calif. / JSerra [UC San Diego]) heaved all nine innings for the second straight start and didn’t allow a run after the third as Valpo came from behind for the Game 2 victory.
How It Happened – Game 1
- The Crusaders (11-19) packed the bases in the opening inning, but Michigan State starting pitcher Ethan Landon wiggled out of it with a strikeout to end the frame.
- The Spartans (10-21) struck first in the second inning when Bryce Kelley lifted a sac fly to center to plate Zack McGuire, who had walked to start the inning.
- In his return after missing four games due to injury, Zack Leone (Pelham Manor, N.Y. / Fordham Prep [Susquehanna]) continued his two-out prowess in the third, ripping a double down the left-field line that scored Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic).
- Valpo starting pitcher Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) sent down nine straight from the second through the fourth, including a pair of 1-2-3 innings. Marty Bechina interrupted that stretch with a leadoff walk in the fifth, then came around to score on a swinging bunt down the third-base line by Justin Antoncic to put Michigan State ahead 2-1.
- After Tieman put a zero on the board in the sixth, Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) ripped one off the right-field scoreboard to lead off the seventh, a solo homer to tie the game at two.
- Valpo’s second homer of the inning was of the tape-measure variety, a two-run blast over the scoreboard by Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) to give the Crusaders their first lead of the game at 4-2.
- The Spartans got one of the runs back in the bottom of the seventh on a solo homer by Marty Bechina.
- Michigan State got back to even in the eighth inning as Zach Iverson doubled then came around to score a two-out, opposite-field single by Chad Roskelly to make it 4-4.
- Alex Dirienzo (Somerset, Pa. / Somerset [Akron]) came out of the Valpo bullpen to pitch the ninth and retired the side in order, extending the game to extra innings.
- The Crusaders threatened in the 11th when Garbella ripped an 0-2 pitch for a double with one away. Leone was intentionally walked, and eventually the inning ended as Chad Jacob was retired on a deep fly ball to right that saw Michigan State’s Dan Chmielewski run up a grassy berm to make a nice catch.
- Three singles in the 12th allowed the Spartans to walk off with a victory in Game 1. The final hit came from Antonic with two outs, handing Dirienzo (0-2) a tough-luck loss after 3 2/3 quality innings out of the bullpen.
Inside the Game – Game 1
- Kapers’ home run was his third of the season and the sixth of his collegiate career.
- The Kapers blast forced Michigan State starter Ethan Landon to settle for no decision after 6 1/3 innings of four-hit, two-run ball. He walked three and struck out six.
- Shaikin’s homer was his fifth of the season and the ninth of his career. He eclipsed his season total from a year ago with that long ball.
- Tieman did not factor into the decision after allowing four runs on seven hits over eight innings while walking two and striking out two. He has lasted seven innings or longer in five straight starts.
- Dawson led the Crusaders with four hits in the opener, moving into a tie for the team lead with 14 multi-hit games. That marked his third game this season with four hits or more, also the most on the team.
- Valpo left a season-high 15 on base in Game 1, while Michigan State stranded just four. That marked the most runners Valpo stranded in a game since May 13, 2016 at Youngstown State.
How It Happened – Game 2
- The Crusaders scored the first run of the game with help from two Michigan State errors in the opening inning, but the Spartans bounced back to tie it with an Iverson RBI double in the bottom of the frame.
- Michigan State grabbed its first lead of the game in the second as Nic Lacayo roped a run-scoring double to right. They went on to score three more in the inning, building up a 5-1 advantage.
- Garbella sliced the four-run deficit in half with one swing in the third, belting a two-run homer to left.
- Michigan State built the lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the third on a solo home run by Bechina.
- Billinger came through with a bases-clearing double in the fourth, driving in three to tie the game at six. The next batter was Garbella, who roped a double down the left-field line to score Billinger for the go-ahead run, giving Valpo a 7-6 lead.
- From there, Ferketic did the rest. After allowing six runs in the first three innings, the senior righty did not allow a run over the final six frames, earning the win to boost his record to 4-2. He scattered 11 hits and allowed six runs (four earned) while waking three and striking out four.
Inside the Game – Game 2
- Garbella’s big fly was his fifth of the season, matching his season total from a year ago for his career high. The senior owns 12 career home runs.
- Billinger’s double was his team-leading 14th of the yearr. He had two hits and drove in four.
- Garbella led the Crusaders with three hits – all for extra bases. This was Garbella’s first three-hit game of the season.
- A week after becoming the first Crusader to throw a complete game this season, Ferketic did it again. He becomes the first Crusader with multiple complete games in a year since Trevor Haas and Dalton Lundeen in 2016.
- This marks the third straight season Valpo has picked up a victory against a team from the Big Ten Conference.
Weather permitting, Valpo and Michigan State will round out the series on Saturday at noon CT / 1 p.m. ET. The game will be video streamed on BTN2GO ($) and a radio broadcast will be available courtesy of the Spartan Sports Network.