The Valparaiso University baseball team stayed hot on Sunday, securing its second consecutive weekend series victory in Missouri Valley Conference play by fending off Illinois State 7-6 at Emory G. Bauer Field. Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) ripped his third home run of the series, a two-run blow that helped the Valpo offense produce seven runs on 10 hits.
How It Happened
- The two teams picked up right where they left off in Saturday’s high-scoring affair as Jordan Libman led off the game with a home run to give Illinois State the early lead.
- Valpo jumped in front by scoring twice in the third including a go-ahead single to center by Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) on a full-count pitch.
- Ryan Cermak homered in the fourth, a two-run job to vault the Redbirds (18-25, 8-8) ahead 3-2.
- Valpo tied the game at three in the fifth when Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) doubled, stole third and scored on a throwing error by the catcher.
- Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) singled with one away in the sixth, then came around to score as Parker Johnson ripped a triple down the right-field line to put Valpo back in front at 4-3.
- Dent crushed the aforementioned two-run home run to straight-away center in the seventh to increase Valpo’s lead to 6-3.
- After starter Zach Fricke (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) allowed three runs on five hits in four innings, Trent Turzenski (Burlington, Wis. / Burlington) came on for four innings of relief, limiting the Redbirds to just one run while scattering seven hits, walking none and striking out four on another difficult day to pitch with the wind blowing out at Emory G. Bauer Field. Turzenski was eventually awarded the win to up his record to 2-4.
- The one run against Turzenski came in the eighth on a single that deflected off his glove and to the right side of the infield to make it 6-4, but the right-handed reliever struck out Libman swinging on a payoff pitch to escape the inning with minimal damage as the Redbirds stranded runners at the corners.
- Valpo picked up an insurance run that proved to be the difference in the game on a safety squeeze bunt by Fitzsimmons in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-4.
- Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) came on to pitch the ninth in a save situation. Jack Butler made it interesting with a two-out, two-run homer down the left-field line, but Rhodehouse induced a fly ball to left for the final out of the game, lifting Valpo to the series win.
Inside the Game
- With his three home runs this weekend, Dent has doubled his season total to a team-high six. He also tops the team in RBIs with 23. Dent is one of 15 players in The Valley with six or more home runs this season.
- Valpo improved to 6-2 at home and is one win away from clinching a winning record at home for the fifth time in the last six seasons and 12th time in the last 14 campaigns.
- Head coach Brian Schmack earned his 147th career victory on Sunday to move into a tie with Rick Ferchen for fourth in program history.
- Valpo prevailed in yet another one-run game, upping its mark to 5-4 in such contests with four of the five one-run wins coming at home over the last two weekends.
- Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) set a season high and tied a career high with three hits, while Johnson also enjoyed a multi-hit game.
- Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) saw his lengthy on-base streak snapped at 21 games.
- Rhodehouse earned his 11th career save, moving into sole possession of fifth in program history.
- Hannahs slashed .500/.588/.643 in the four-game series to up his season batting average to a team-high .306.
Valpo (11-23, 6-10) will return to the diamond on Friday, May 7 to begin a four-game series against Bradley in Peoria, Ill. The game will start at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN3 or ESPN+. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.