The Valparaiso University baseball team earned a four-game split against a Murray State team that entered the weekend with an unblemished home mark by notching a 6-1 victory in Sunday’s series finale at Reagan Field in Murray, Ky. The triumph came behind a stellar effort on the mound by left-hander Jake Miller (Chester, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep), who earned the win with seven strong innings.
How It Happened
- A 6-4-3 double play helped Miller work a scoreless first, but a two-out solo shot to left in the second got the Racers on the board first.
- The Beacons threatened in each of the first two innings as Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) and Angel DiFedierco (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) ripped early-game doubles, but the guests stranded three in scoring position over the two frames.
- Miller faced the minimum in both the third and fourth innings. DiFederico caught a runner trying to steal to erase a leadoff single in the third, then Miller sent down the side in order in the fourth including two strikeouts.
- DiFederico led off the fifth inning with his second double of the game, then trotted home as Spencer Warfield (Fullerton, Calif. / Servite) pulled a game-tying base hit to end the day for the Murray State starting pitcher.
- Miller struck out a pair in the bottom of the fifth to put another zero on the board. In the bottom of the inning, Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) unloaded a bases-clearing double to deep right center to put the Beacons ahead 4-1.
- A smooth sixth from Miller saw the Racers go down in order, then Valpo tacked on a run in the top of the seventh thanks to a run-scoring Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) single.
- Miller faced the minimum again in the seventh, then Nathan Chasey (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indian Hills CC]) took over for the eighth and worked a 1-2-3 frame. Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) lifted a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth to make it 6-1.
- Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) was summoned from the bullpen for the ninth, recording the final three outs to solidify the triumph.
Inside the Game
- DiFederico’s doubles were his first of the season, while Hannahs ripped his fifth, moving into a tie for the team lead. DiFedierco is up to eight doubles in his collegiate career.
- Tucker recorded his second double of the season and over doubled his season RBI total with one swing of the bat. He previously had driven in two runs this season (while seeing limited duty due to an injury) before knocking in three with the go-ahead two-bagger.
- This marked the longest outing of Miller’s collegiate career as he had previously pitched no more than five innings in any one game. He fanned eight or more for the second straight start. He established a career watermark in strikeouts for the second straight week, racking up nine against no walks over seven innings of one-run, three-hit ball.
- Schmack’s RBI was his team-leading 12th of the season. Renfro drove in a run, his 10th of the year.
- Hannahs, Schmack and DiFederico each had multi-hit games. DiFederico’s helped him snap out of a four-game slump, while Schmack notched his sixth multi-hit output, the second-most on the club behind only Hannahs, who recorded his eighth such game.
- Schmack led the way with three hits on Sunday, tying his season high.
Weather permitting, Valpo (7-9) will open the home portion of the schedule on Wednesday at 3 p.m. vs. Milwaukee at Emory G. Bauer Field. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+, the first streamed home game in program history.