The Valparaiso University baseball team enjoyed a successful Saturday for the second consecutive week, this time edging Western Kentucky 8-6 in 11 innings thanks in part to a go-ahead single by Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) in the top of the 11th to snap a six-all tie. Quality relief work from Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) played a key role as the veteran right-hander stymied Western Kentucky to the tune of no runs on two hits and no walks over the game’s final 3 2/3 innings.
How It Happened
- The day got off to a strong start for head coach Brian Schmack’s team as Valpo jumped in front with a four-run first. Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) pounded a bases-loaded double to plate a pair, then Parker Johnson (Golden Valley, Minn. / Hopkins) lashed a two-out single that doubled the lead.
- Starting pitcher Colin Fields (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) followed his no-hitter from a week ago with five innings of two-run, six-hit ball to receive no decision. He left in position for the win as his team held a 5-2 edge through five frames at the time of his departure.
- WKU scored single runs in the third and fifth innings, while Valpo’s fifth tally came in the top of inning number five on a Damon Jorgensen (Blair, Neb. / Blair [Coffeyville]) single up the middle.
- The Hilltoppers scored three times against the Valpo bullpen in the sixth to level the score at five, but Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) vaulted his team back on top with a solo home run to center with two outs in the seventh.
- The 6-5 Valpo edge lasted until the bottom of the eighth, when a Western Kentucky runner boogied home on a wild pitch to create a 6-6 deadlock.
- After coming in to record the final two outs of the eighth inning, Tieman posted a zero in the bottom of the ninth to get the game to extras. The righty notched a clutch strikeout as WKU stranded the winning run at second in the 10th.
- Valpo took advantage of two Western Kentucky errors in the top of the 11th as Fitzsimmons singled through the right side to drive in the go-ahead run, then Dent delivered a sacrifice fly on a line drive to left to make it 8-6.
- Tieman (1-1) mowed down the side in order in the bottom of the 11th to notch his first victory of the season.
Inside the Game
- Valpo banged out a season-high 15 hits, eclipsing the team’s previous watermark of 10 on Feb. 27 at Jacksonville State. The 15 hits were the team’s most since also totaling 15 on Feb. 29, 2020 vs. Southern Miss. The eight runs also marked a season best.
- Tieman struck out five to move into the top 10 in program history in career strikeouts. He now has 205, usurping Jim Pomeroy (202, 1996-1999) for 10th. Tieman’s next target is Chuck Donley (1991-1995), who is ninth with 212.
- Fitzsimmons and Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) led the way with three hits apiece, while Johnson, Jorgensen and Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) all boasted multi-hit contests.
- Jorgensen enjoyed his team-leading fifth multi-hit output of the year, while Schmack, Fitzsimmons and Johnson all had their fourth. Johnson is 5-for-9 in the series, while Jorgensen has hit safely in six straight games and has multi-hit outputs in four of his last five.
- This marked Valpo’s first game of 10 or more innings since last year’s series at Western Kentucky, a 5-3, 10-inning victory in the series finale on Feb. 17. The Brown & Gold did have an “extra-inning” game last week when the nightcap of a doubleheader at Middle Tennessee was slated for seven frames and required eight.
- This marked the first time a Valpo game went to the 11th inning since a 14-inning marathon vs. Southern Illinois on May 10, 2019.
Valpo (4-8) and Western Kentucky (9-9) will play the rubber match of the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. Links to live stats and audio can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.