The Valparaiso University baseball team garnered its first victory of the 2020 campaign by capturing the series finale on Monday afternoon at Western Kentucky, besting the host Toppers 5-3 in 10 innings at Nick Denes Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky. Senior Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) belted his first career home run, and Valpo eventually took the lead on a squeeze bunt by Damon Jorgensen (Blair, Neb. / Blair [Coffeyville]) in the top of the 10th.
How It Happened
- After neither team scored for the first three innings of the game, Dent drew a leadoff walk that came back to bite Western Kentucky in the fourth. He eventually came around to score on a passed ball in an inning that saw Valpo benefit from two walks and a hit batter.
- After Valpo starting pitcher Zach Fricke (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) had permitted no hits and just one baserunner over the first three innings, the Hilltoppers (2-1) responded against him in the fourth. WKU cracked a pair of solo home runs to leap ahead 2-1.
- Fricke exited after four innings, allowing two runs on three hits and one walk in his first start of the year.
- Valpo regained the lead in the sixth thanks to one swing of the bat by Dent, who belted a two-run blast to right field. Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central), who had walked to lead off the inning, was along for the ride. The Brown & Gold got two more hits in the frame but settled for the two runs.
- An RBI double in the bottom of the sixth tied the game at three. That was the only blemish against reliever Trent Turzenski (Burlington, Wis. / Burlington), who went three innings and allowed one run on four hits and no walks.
- The game remained tied at three until the top of the 10th, when Tucker ripped a key double down the left-field line to help set the stage for an eventual bases-loaded squeeze by Jorgensen that drove in the go-ahead run. Jonathan Temple (Turlock, Calif. / Turlock [Modesto JC]) followed by lacing a run-scoring hit to left, boosting the lead to 5-3.
- Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) turned in a masterful relief performance, working three scoreless innings of no-hit ball while striking out four. He retired all nine men he faced in the eighth, ninth and 10th innings.
Inside the Game
- Dent’s home run was the first by a Valpo player this season. It was also the first career home run for Dent, who entered the weekend with 365 career at-bats.
- This was the second straight season that Valpo’s third game of the year went to extra innings, as the team fell 7-6 in 11 at Arkansas State on Feb. 24, 2019. It was the team’s first extra-inning affair since a 14-inning marathon on May 10 of last season, a 5-4 win over Southern Illinois.
- Rhodehouse had an unusual weekend, starting Saturday’s series opener before finishing Monday’s series finale. He earned the victory to improve to 1-1 on the season. Rhodehouse has been the bullpen hero in each of Valpo’s last two extra-inning contests.
- After just one WKU batter had struck out over the first seven innings, Rhodehouse fanned four of the nine he faced.
- Jorgensen’s 10th-inning bunt was his third hit of the day, his first three-hit game in a Valpo uniform after transferring in before the 2019 campaign.
- Dent had two walks and two runs scored to go along with the home run.
Valpo (1-2) will visit No. 2/3 Louisville this coming weekend starting on Friday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. CT in Louisville, Ky. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra with links to live video, audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.