After a pitchers’ duel took center stage on Friday night, a much different ballgame unfolded on Saturday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill.
The Valparaiso University baseball team banged out seven extra-base hits and raced out to an 11-4 lead in the fourth inning, but host Southern Illinois rallied for a 15-12 victory despite the Beacons posting their highest run total of the season.
How It Happened
- After being shut out in Friday’s series opener, Valpo wasted no time in jumping on the scoreboard on Saturday. A bouncing ball to second base turned into an infield single for Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) to produce the first Beacon run of the day. Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth), who entered Saturday’s lineup as the designated hitter after not playing on Friday, delivered a ground-rule double that drove in two and widened the Valpo lead to 3-0.
- The Salukis got one back in the bottom of the first but stranded two.
- The Beacons chased SIU starter Noah Farmer from the game in the second with another three spot. The visitors had three extra-base hits in the inning including a leadoff triple by Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran), an RBI double by Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) and a run-scoring two-bagger by Tucker. Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) also drove in a run with a single. Valpo did strand two in scoring position as Jake Kuntzendorf came in from the SIU bullpen and prevented further damage.
- SIU responded with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the second. The first four batters of the inning reached base, and the Salukis had a chance for more with runners at the corners and one away with the four runs in the bank, but Jake Miller (Chester, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep) got the final two outs to keep the guests in front 6-4.
- A bloop, two-out single by Hannahs produced a third-inning run for the Beacons, plating Ryan, who had doubled earlier in the inning. That extended the Valpo lead back to three at 7-4.
- Valpo added to the lead in the top of the fourth, posting the team’s third crooked number in the game’s first four frames. Tucker tripled and scored, and later Jake Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) belted a two-run homer to left as part of an inning that built up the lead to 11-4.
- SIU responded in a big way in the bottom of the fourth. They scored a half a dozen, including a three-run homer by Grey Epps that capped the inning and reduced the Valpo lead to one at 11-10.
- The Salukis scored four in the bottom of the sixth to take their first lead of the game at 14-11. Back-to-back walks to start the inning both came around to score as part of the frame.
- SIU added another run in the bottom of the eighth to extend the lead to four.
- Hannahs lifted a sacrifice fly in the ninth to make it 15-12. Valpo brought the tying run to the plate, but could get no closer.
Inside the Game
- The home run by Kapers was the first of his collegiate career. He made his first start of the season in Friday’s series opener.
- Valpo posted its highest run total of the season on Saturday. In fact, the Beacons had already clinched their highest run output of the year in the top of the fourth inning. Valpo’s previous top run total of the season was 10 on three occasions, most recently April 16 at Illinois State.
- Saturday’s game marked Valpo’s highest scoring output since May 1 of last season, a 17-13 victory vs. Illinois State. This was the team’s highest scoring output in a road game since scoring 18 at Western Michigan on May 8, 2018.
- Tucker had his eighth multi-hit game of the season and his fourth game with three hits or more. The triple was the first of his collegiate career. This marked his second four-hit game of the season as he became the first Valpo player with multiple four-hit games this year. The Beacons have had a player collect four or more hits in a game four times this season, and half of them have been Tucker.
- Tucker and Drudge drove in three runs apiece, both matching season highs. For Drudge, the three RBIs equaled a career watermark.
- Renfro was on base four times including three walks to extend his on-base streak to 13.
- After recording just one extra-base hit to go along with 10 singles in Friday’s series opener, seven of Valpo’s 14 hits went for extra bases on Saturday.
Valpo (13-25, 2-9 MVC) and Southern Illinois will round out the series with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3. Links to live video and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.