The Valparaiso University baseball team improved its home record to 4-1 on Friday afternoon by edging Illinois State 3-2 in a lightning-fast, 1-hour, 54-minute affair with the wind blowing in at Emory G. Bauer Field. Valpo starting pitcher Ryan Mintz (Lombard, Ill. / Willowbrook) twirled seven strong innings before turning the ball over to Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland), who slammed the door with a two-inning save.
How It Happened
- An outing that eventually evolved into a quality start had a humble beginning for Mintz, who forced in a run after allowing two hits and back-to-back walks in the top of the first. The Valpo middle infield turned a double play to end the inning without further damage, keeping the Illinois State lead at 1-0.
- Mintz recovered in the second with a 1-2-3 inning, then kept the positive mojo going by facing the minimum in the third with help from a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play.
- Illinois State starting pitcher Colton Johnson lost his control for a short stretch in the bottom of the third, walking consecutive Valpo batters before hitting two in a row. The second of those was Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central), whose HBP forced in the game-tying run. Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) drove in another with an infield single to give Valpo the lead, then Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
- Mintz kept cruising in the fourth, when he retired the side in order. He faced the minimum in the fifth as a leadoff single was erased by a caught stealing. The righty posted another zero in the sixth before he was touched for one run in the seventh as Tyson Hays ripped a leadoff triple and scored on a ground ball.
- With Valpo clinging to a 3-2 edge, head coach Brian Schmack went to his go-to high-leverage arm as Rhodehouse took the mound for the eighth inning. The senior right-hander sent down all six men he faced to nail down the two-inning save.
Inside the Game
- Valpo improved to 4-4 in one-run games by playing its fourth one-run affair in the last six contests. Five of the team’s last six games have been decided by two runs or fewer.
- The 1:54 time of game marked Valpo’s quickest contest since a seven-inning game on March 7, 2014 at A&M Corpus Christi that lasted 1:53. Friday marked the fastest nine-inning Valpo game since a 5-1 victory over Wright State on April 26, 2013 required just 1:50.
- Rhodehouse secured his second save of the season with both coming in his last two appearances. He now has 10 career saves, becoming just the sixth player in program history to reach that threshold. He is currently tied for fifth in the Valpo record book, joining Dallas Cawiezell (2005-2007).
- Mintz (1-3) garnered his first collegiate victory after permitting just two runs on six hits while striking out five in seven innings of work.
- Kyle Schmack reached base three times and accounted for two hits. He moved into a tie for the team lead with his ninth multi-hit output. The freshman first baseman also took over the team lead for total hits on Friday, lifting his season total to 32.
- Renfro reached base for the 19th consecutive game, now Valpo’s longest on-base streak since current volunteer assistant coach Sam Shaikin reached in 23 in a row in 2017.
Valpo (9-22, 4-9) and Illinois State (17-23, 7-6) will continue the series with a doubleheader on Saturday at noon. The first game will be seven innings in length and the second will be a nine-inning journey. Valpo has announced that RHP Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) is expected to start Game 1 of the double dip. There will be no radio or video coverage on Saturday, but links to live stats are posted on ValpoAthletics.com.