The Valparaiso University baseball team scored the game’s first three runs with a chance to clinch the series win on Saturday afternoon, but Sunday’s series finale will be a rubber match after No. 22 Southern Miss scored eight unanswered to prevail 8-3 at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. The game was tied at three until the seventh and was a cliffhanger until the hosts grabbed separation with a four-run eighth.
How It Happened
- Valpo gained the early lead for the second straight day as Kaleb Hannahs and Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) set the stage with singles before Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) banged a run-scoring double in the opening frame. The Brown & Gold added a second tally thanks to an RBI grounder by Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) that made it 2-0.
- Valpo starting pitcher Connor Lockwood (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) used a double play to help put up a zero on the board in the opening inning, then notched all three outs via the strikeout in the second.
- The Beacons added to the lead in the third when Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) hit a ground ball to short with the bases full. The shortstop misplayed the ball for an error, and Maka was credited with an RBI. Schmack and Renfro both had hits to help set up the scoring chance.
- Southern Miss’ Dustin Dickerson hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the third to tie the game at three.
- Lockwood bounced back in the fourth by putting a goose egg on the board, then used a strikeout and a double play to face the minimum in the fifth.
- Head coach Brian Schmack made a pitching change with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the sixth, and Grant Jablonski (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) needed only one pitch to induce a ground ball and escape the jam, keeping the score tied at three.
- Southern Miss used a two-out triple in the bottom of the seventh to take its first lead of the series at 4-3.
- The Golden Eagles added to the edge when Danny Lynch launched a two-run homer with two down in the bottom of the eighth to make it 6-3. The hosts would add two more in the inning to balloon the lead to 8-3.
Inside the Game
- Valpo scored first for the ninth time in 12 games this season and scored in the first inning for the sixth time this year. This was the first time Valpo scored in the opening inning and went on to drop the game.
- Schmack and Renfro had two hits apiece. Schmack holds the team lead with six multi-hit outputs, while Renfro picked up his third multi-hit contest.
- The team’s longest hitting streak of the season so far came to an end as Jake Skrine (Longmont, Colo. / Mead [Indiana]) saw his 10-game streak snapped. He did extend his on-base streak to 11, while Tucker and Renfro have both reached safely in all 12 games this year.
- Lockwood received no decision after allowing three runs on five hits while striking out six and walking five in 5 2/3 innings.
The series continues as Valpo and No. 22 Southern Miss square off at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Please note that the start time was moved to two hours earlier due to the weather forecast. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.