After being limited to two total runs in a three-game weekend series at Wright State, the Valparaiso University baseball team made it clear early on that the offensive struggles would end on Tuesday night at Cougar Stadium in Chicago. The Crusaders had three extra-base hits in the opening inning and scored three times to set the tone for an eventual 13-1 rout of Chicago State.
How It Happened
- Two batters into the game, the Crusaders (7-11) owned a two-run lead as Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif. / Oaks Christian) lifted a home run to right center. James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos [Golden West]) was along for the ride after a wind-aided triple down the right-field line started the game.
- Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) followed Palace’s homer by banging a double to center to make it three consecutive extra base hits to greet Chicago State starting pitcher Grant Trower. Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian) was then hit by a pitch, but Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) bounced into a double play. The Crusaders notched their third run of the inning when Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) reached on a throwing error and Hanson crossed the plate for an unearned run.
- Valpo added to the lead in the third when Kapers reached on an infield single to plate Palace, who had reached safely on a misplayed slow chopper to short. Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect) accepted a bases-loaded walk to force in a run, making it 5-0 Crusaders.
- The Cougars (4-13) scored their only run of the day in the bottom of the inning, when an errant relay throw to first on a fielder’s choice bouncer allowed an unearned tally to cross the dish.
- The next scoring came in the fifth, when Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) went the other way for a sharp single to left, driving in Kapers and building the lead back to five.
- Neither team scored again until the eighth, when back-to-back bunt singles started the inning and eventually allowed the Crusaders to produce a run as Palace bounced into a double play. Chicago State’s Jay Gutierrez limited the damage to one run after Valpo had the bases loaded with nobody out.
- The Crusaders poured it on in the top of the ninth, when they tacked on six runs to seal the victory. Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona]) had a run-scoring single, Donohue scored on a wild pitch and Eggimann scored on an errant pickoff throw. That set up Palace’s second blast of the day, a three-run shot to right.
Inside the Game
- Valpo starting pitcher Michael Mommersteeg (St. Thomas, Ont., Canada) yielded just one unearned run in four innings. He yielded five hits and walked a pair. Mommersteeg has worked 14 1/3 innings this season and has yet to permit an earned run.
- Since Mommersteeg didn’t go five innings, Alex Dirienzo (Somerset, Pa.) was awarded the victory in relief to up his record to 2-1. He issued one walk and did not allow a hit or a run over two innings. Montana Quigley (Lake Forest, Calif. / El Toro) walked two but did not allow a run or a hit, earning his first save by virtue of three quality innings of relief to close the game.
- Trower (0-1) took the defeat for the Cougars. He was charged with six runs (four earned) on eight hits and two walks in five innings.
- Palace and Dawson remain tied for the team lead in multi-hit games with six apiece. Dawson, a sophomore, enjoyed a three-hit performances, becoming the fourth Crusader this season to do so. It was the fifth three-hit game of Dawson’s Valpo career.
- Palace delivered his first two-homer game since Feb. 28, 2016 at New Orleans. He also launched two home runs on March 7, 2015 at USC Upstate, making this his third career two-homer game. The five RBIs marked Palace’s highest total since driving in seven in that game on March 7, 2015 at USC Upstate.
- Palace was the first Crusader to have more than three RBIs in a game this season. Last year, a Valpo player had four or more runs driven in on nine occasions.
- The performance helped break Palace out of a slump as he held a .167 average during Valpo’s six-game losing streak after hitting .415 over the team’s first 11 games.
- Eggimann had his third multi-hit game of the season, while Hanson enjoyed his fourth and Kapers his second.
- This was Valpo’s 20th straight win in head-to-head meetings with Chicago State.
The Crusaders will return to Horizon League play for a three-game weekend series at UIC beginning on Friday at 4:05 p.m. CT. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.