March 19, 2024123456789RHE
Ball State021210000680
Win: Jablonski (2-0) 3.020014
Loss: Lucas Letsinger (1-1) 2.233324
Casey Turturici (BSU) 422100
Thurston (VALPO) 423101
Schmack’s Birthday Blasts Propel Valpo to Victorious Home Opener
Tuesday, March 19, 2024
Schmack’s Birthday Blasts Propel Valpo to Victorious Home Opener
Kyle Schmack belted two home runs on his birthday.

Hitting a home run on his 21st birthday in 2022 was nice, but Valparaiso University baseball fifth-year senior Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) had an even bigger gift in store for Beacon fans as he celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday. Lucky for opposing pitchers, Valpo did not play on Schmack’s 22nd birthday last season, but he made up for it in Tuesday’s home opener at Emory G. Bauer Field, going deep twice in a 9-6 victory over Ball State. The Beacons overcame a 5-0 deficit to come away victorious.

How It Happened

  • Ball State scored twice in the second to take the lead, then added a single tally on a solo homer in the third and scored twice more in the fourth to own a 5-0 advantage.
  • The Beacons scratched the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when a double by Carson Husmann (Hanna, Ind. / South Central [Bradley]) set up an RBI grounder by Connor Giusti (Hoffman Estates, Ill. / Fremd).
  • Ball State got that run right back thanks to an RBI double in the fifth, and it was a five-run Cardinal lead through four and a half.
  • In the bottom of the fifth, Husmann singled to drive in a run before a double by Kevin Denty (Tinley Park, Ill. / Marian Catholic) cut the Ball State lead to 6-4. Husmann eventually crossed the dish on a wild pitch to slim the lead to one at 6-5.
  • After Grant Jablonski (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) held Ball State off the board in the top of the sixth, Schmack lifted a two-run homer over the right-field fence to rearrange the scoreboard into Valpo’s favor at 7-6 in the last of the sixth.
  • Jablonski quickly sent down the Cardinals in the top of the seventh to end his day, and Bryce Konitzer (Mukwonago, Wis. / Mukwonago [Oakland]) worked a scoreless eighth.
  • Valpo got insurance in the bottom of the eighth as Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) led off the frame with a solo shot to make it 8-6. The Beacons weren’t done in that frame, as Schmack later lifted his second big-fly of the day, boosting the lead to 9-6.
  • Konitzer retired the side in order in the top of the ninth, lifting Valpo to the victory.

Inside the Game

  • Schmack’s birthday blasts lifted his career home run total to 26, moving him into a tie for third in program history in career home runs. He joined Jeff Mandsager (2001-2003) in the tie for third in program lore.
  • Schmack turned in Valpo’s third multi-homer game of the season and second in the last three games as Alex Ryan turned the trick in the middle game of this past weekend’s series at No. 21 Campbell.
  • Five of Valpo’s 11 hits went for extra bases as the Beacons outhit the Cardinals 11-8.
  • Thurston’s home run was his second of the season and the fifth of his collegiate career.
  • Konitzer nailed down his first save of the season, becoming the fourth different Beacon with a save. He did not allow a run or a hit over two scoreless innings.
  • The bullpen did not yield a run in the game as Jablonski proceeded Konitzer with three scoreless while allowing two hits and one walk to go along with four strikeouts. He picked up the win to move to 2-0 this year and achieve his fourth career victory. Starter Kaleb Krier (Altoona, Iowa / Southeast Polk [DMACC]) received no decision after allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and one walk in four innings.
  • Valpo did a good job of preventing free bases as Valpo pitching yielded just three walks.
  • Thurston went 3-for-4 to lead the way, while Hannahs, Schmack and Husmann each had multiple hits.

Up Next

Valpo (8-11) will open Missouri Valley Conference play on Friday at 6 p.m. by visiting Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Ill. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.