The Valparaiso University baseball team ended Murray State’s longest home winning streak since 1958 in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader at Reagan Field in Murray, Ky. The Beacons prevailed 7-2 in the opener to hand the Racers their first home loss of the season after a 12-0 start, but the hosts bounced back to salvage a doubleheader split with a 5-1 win in Game 2.
How It Happened – Game 1
- Murray State mounted a threat by working three walks in the opening inning, but Valpo starter Colin Fields (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) worked out of it with no damage done as the Racers stranded the maximum.
- Murray State once again loaded the bases in the second inning, but Fields again wiggled out of it. All three outs in the frame came via the strikeout, including two that occurred with the bags full. The Racers stranded six over the first two frames.
- Valpo jumped on the board when Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) clubbed a double in the top of the third and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch. A pair of two-out hits produced additional runs as Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) and Adam Brauch (Waukee, Iowa / Dowling Catholic) both lashed singles to make it a three-run inning.
- Fields struck out the side in the third, sending the Racers down in order to keep it 3-0.
- Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) ripped a double in the top of the fourth, then Thurston drilled a triple to deep right center to expand the Valpo lead to 4-0.
- Fields worked his second straight 1-2-3 inning in the fourth.
- Murray State scored twice in the sixth but stranded two, helping Valpo sustain a 4-2 edge through six.
- Valpo responded by scoring twice in the seventh to build the lead back to four. Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) lashed one to the opposite field for a double down the left-field line to drive in one, and another run crossed the plate on a passed ball to make it 6-2.
- Valpo tacked on a run in the top of the ninth as Tucker lifted a sacrifice fly. Lebamoff then worked his third straight flawless inning, closing out the game by sending down 10 straight Racers.
Inside the Game – Game 1
- Fields racked up nine strikeouts, his fifth straight start with seven or more and his second-most this season. He walked five in the first two innings – four of which came on full counts – but settled in and did not permit a walk for the remainder of his outing. He sent down 11 straight from the second to the sixth.
- Fields (2-0) earned the victory, while Lebamoff received his first career save by virtue of the three-inning save rule by working four scoreless innings of one-hit ball while walking one and striking out three.
- Fields, who celebrated his birthday on Friday, lifted his season strikeout total to 42 and his career accumulation to 192. He is eight away from becoming the 12th pitcher in program history to reach 200 career strikeouts.
- Valpo pitching had two separate instances of sending down 10 or more consecutive batters in the game.
- Ryan, Brauch and Thurston had two hits apiece. Ryan had his first multi-hit game of the season, Brauch had his third and Thurston enjoyed his fourth. Brauch and Thurston reached based three times apiece in the victory.
- Thurston’s triple was his first of the season and the third of his career.
- Valpo handed Murray State its first home loss of the season after the team’s 12-0 home start. The Beacons stopped Murray State’s longest home winning streak since 1958.
- The Beacons outhit Murray State 11-3. The three hits were the fewest permitted by Valpo pitching in a game this season.
How It Happened – Game 2
- In the top of the first of Game 2, Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) went yard. His blast to left gave the Beacons an early 1-0 lead.
- Murray State drew even in the bottom of the frame as a leadoff triple eventually led to the game tying run.
- The Racers scored four times in the third to take the lead. They had five hits in the frame including a pair of doubles.
- Valpo’s Ryan Mintz (Lombard, Ill. / Willowbrook) worked a scoreless fourth, then the Beacons threatened in the top of the fifth with the bases juiced and two down. However, the Racers worked out of the jam with nothing across to keep the lead at 5-1.
- Valpo had two baserunners in the seventh, but did not score. The second game was only seven innings, so 5-1 stood as the final score.
Inside the Game – Game 2
- Schmack’s home run represented his third of the season and the fifth of his career. He has already eclipsed his home run total from his entire 2021 campaign. The home run came on his 21st birthday.
- Mintz did a solid job out of the bullpen, finishing with 2 2/3 innings of two-hit ball. He was charged with no runs and walked one while striking out two.
- Four Valpo batters were hit by a pitch, a season high.
- Jacob Rosenkranz (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) heaved a shutout inning of relief.
Valpo (6-9) and Murray State will round out the four-game series with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday in Murray, Ky. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ with links to live video and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.