On a day that exemplified March weather in the Midwest, the Valparaiso University baseball team battled through the elements to sweep visiting St. Bonaventure in a doubleheader that opened up the home portion of the season.
The Beacons prevailed 8-5 in Game 1 before recording a 10-0 whitewash in the nightcap to close out the sweep. Valpo pitching combined for 34 strikeouts against just three walks on a day where the weather featured everything from a downpour that caused a rain delay to sunshine alongside a rainbow. Game 1 of the doubleheader marked the first-ever ESPN3 broadcast from Emory G. Bauer Field as the facility was recently upgraded to include web-streaming capabilities.
How It Happened – Game 1
- The hosts played from behind early as St. Bonaventure got two – including one unearned tally – in the opening inning.
- Valpo tied the game in the third thanks to a run-scoring double by Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) and a sacrifice fly by Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo).
- The Beacons took their first lead of the game in the fourth, when Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) stroked a single that drove in a pair.
- The Bonnies sliced the deficit in half with a home run in the top of the fifth, but Valpo responded as Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) drove in a run with a single in the bottom of the inning.
- The Bonnies again got within a run in the sixth, this time with help from a wild pitch. However, Adam Brauch (Waukee, Iowa / Dowling Catholic) provided some separation with a three-run homer over the left-field fence in the bottom of the sixth to make it 8-4 Valpo.
- St. Bonaventure got a run on a long ball of their own in the top of the seventh, but that was the lone blemish against the Valpo bullpen, which closed out the triumph.
Inside the Game – Game 1
- Starting pitcher Trent Turzenski (Burlington, Wis. / Burlington) earned the victory with six strong innings of four-run (three earned), six-hit ball in which he struck out 12 and walked just one. He became the first Valpo hurler to rack up a dozen strikeouts in a game since Jon Tieman on April 19, 2019 at SIUE. Prior to that, no Valpo pitcher had struck out 12 since Jon Gulbransen in 2011.
- Setup man Nathan Chasey (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indiana Hills CC]) came on for two innings of relief and the solo homer in the seventh was the lone blemish against him as he surrendered no other hits and no walks while striking out four.
- Closer Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central [Kankakee]) obtained his fifth save in the ninth by retiring the side in order and striking out one.
- Valpo’s Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) racked up a career-high four hits in Friday’s opener, becoming the first Beacon to boast a four-hit game this season.
- Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) enjoyed a three-hit output, while Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central), Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) and Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) had two hits apiece. Maka reached base four times, also drawing a pair of walks. Thurston’s three-hit game was his third of the season and his fifth multi-hit output.
- Brauch’s home run was the first of his collegiate career.
- Valpo racked up a season-high 16 hits, the team’s highest hit total since May 1 of last season vs. Illinois State (18).
- Beacon batters had a season-low four strikeouts.
How It Happened – Game 2
- Valpo struck first in the second game, manufacturing an unearned run on a Spencer Warfield (Fullerton, Calif. / Servite) RBI ground ball.
- The Beacons expanded the lead to 4-0 in the third thanks to a Renfro single through the right side, a wild pitch and a fielder’s choice bouncer off the bat of Tucker.
- Valpo exploded for four more in the fourth with Schmack ripping an RBI single that saw a second run score on an error, Brauch lifting a sac fly and Tucker lashing a run-scoring single.
- Brauch drove in another run in the fifth and made it 9-0, then Kade Reinertson (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) crossed the dish on a wild pitch in the sixth to up the lead to 10.
- Starting pitcher Colin Fields (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) carved to the tune of five shutout innings of two-hit ball while walking two and striking out 10. He struck out the side in each of the first two innings and the first eight outs were recorded via the strikeout.
- Fields handed the ball off to lefty Jake Miller (Chesterton, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep), who went the rest of the way to nail down his first save by virtue of the three-inning save rule. He yielded two hits and no walks while striking out seven over four scoreless frames.
Inside the Game – Game 2
- Fields improved to 3-0 with the victory while reaching a significant milestone in the process. He garnered his 200th career strikeout, becoming just the 12th player in program history to reach that milestone. Fields now has 52 strikeouts this season, the most in the Missouri Valley Conference.
- Miller’s save was the first of his collegiate career.
- This marked the second time Valpo swept a doubleheader this season, joining Feb. 25 at Alabama A&M.
- The 10-run margin of victory was Valpo’s largest since beating Western Michigan 11-1 on April 16, 2019.
- Valpo notched its first shutout since March 13, 2021 at Middle Tennessee.
- Prior to this season, Valpo pitching had not recorded 17 or more strikeouts in a game since 2011. This year, the Beacons have now finished with exactly 17 strikeouts on three different occasions – March 5 at Omaha and both games of Friday’s twinbill.
- Valpo batters worked a season-high 14 walks, the team’s most since Feb. 24, 2018 vs. Holy Cross (18).
- Hannahs reached base four times, scored three times and had a pair of doubles. Maka also turned in a multi-hit effort in a game where Valpo produced 10 runs on just eight hits but benefited from four St. Bonaventure errors on top of the 14 walks.
The two teams are scheduled to close out the series on Saturday afternoon, but fans are advised to check ValpoAthletics.com on Saturday morning for potential weather-related schedule updates.