After a one-sided victory in Friday’s series opener, the Valparaiso University baseball team made it back-to-back wins, this time prevailing in thrilling fashion on Saturday afternoon against UT Martin in Martin, Tenn. The Beacons were down to their final out in the ninth before forcing extras and prevailing 5-4 in 10.
How It Happened
- Starting pitcher Connor Lockwood (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) worked a 1-2-3 first inning and by the time he allowed his first base runner of the day with one away in the second, he had sent down 20 straight batters dating back to his last outing.
- Valpo scored the game’s first run in the top of the second as Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) singled, went to third on a double by Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) and scored when Kade Reinertson (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) grounded into a fielder’s choice.
- A double play helped Lockwood out of a second-inning jam, then the Valpo righty sent down the side in order with two strikeouts in the third.
- UT Martin picked up its first run of the day in the fourth to tie the game at one, but Valpo regained the lead when Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) unloaded a solo blast to right in the top of the fifth.
- Lockwood kept rolling, and neither team scored again until the top of the seventh, when Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) singled and Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) came into score on a throwing error to make it 3-1.
- Lockwood issued three walks in the seventh before departing with one away and the bags full with Valpo up 3-1. The first batter Grant Jablonski (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) faced notched a run-scoring single to slice the lead in half at 3-2. Jablonski recorded an enormous strikeout for the second out followed by a fly out, escaping the inning with Valpo clinging to the one-run edge as the Skyhawks stranded the maximum.
- UT Martin took the lead with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, an uprising that started with two outs and the bases clear.
- With UT Martin leading 4-3, Reinertson was hit by a pitch to start the top of the ninth. He moved to second on a sac bunt and to third on a fly ball. With Valpo down to its final out, Tucker came through with a run-scoring single to left to level the score at four.
- Valpo’s Bobby Nowak issued a leadoff walk to start the top of the ninth, and that runner stole second before a strikeout for the first out. The runner then stole third, but Nowak followed with two more strikeouts to strand the potential winning run 90 feet away and send the game to extra innings.
- UT Martin pitching issued a walk and hit two batters in the top of the 10th to go along with a single by Maka. The two hit batsmen both came with two down, and the second of which forced in the go-ahead run when Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) got nailed with the bases loaded.
- All three outs for Nowak came via the strikeout in the bottom of the 10th, when he helped the Beacons hold on for the victory.
Inside the Game
- The home run by Tucker was the fifth of his career, three of which have come in the first five games this season. He has more home runs during this year’s five-game sample size than he did in the first 57 games of his collegiate career.
- Nowak earned his first Valpo victory while striking out six and walking one in 2 1/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief. Lockwood went 6 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits while striking out six.
- Maka notched four hits, becoming the first Valpo player with a four-hit game this season. He tied a career high as he also had four hits on May 13 of last season vs. Bradley.
- Tucker had a season-high three hits, while Schmack had his third two-hit game in the season’s first five contests.
- This was Valpo’s first extra-inning game since April 26 of last season, a 6-5 loss at Purdue. This was the squad’s first extra-inning victory since a 6-4 win over Missouri State in the opening round of the MVC Tournament on May 25, 2021.
- This was Valpo’s first one-run win since May 1, 2022 at Southern Illinois, an 11-10 triumph.
Valpo (3-2) and UT Martin will close out the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Martin, Tenn. A link to live scoring will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.