The Valparaiso University baseball team rallied with two runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth on Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium in Notre Dame, Ind., but the host Fighting Irish held on for a 6-5 victory. The Crusaders stranded the potential tying run in scoring position in the ninth in what marked their 10th one-run loss of the season.
How It Happened
- The Fighting Irish (18-23) jumped in front early as Jake Johnson ripped a double that allowed Cole Daily to score with nobody out in the first.
- Notre Dame plated three runs before the third out of the opening inning was recorded. The third run came on a caught stealing as Alex Kerschner was gunned down attempting to swipe second, but remained in a rundown long enough for Ryan Cole to cross the dish prior to the tag.
- Notre Dame extended the lead to 4-0 by virtue of an unearned tally in the second as a run scored on a two-out dropped fly ball in left.
- Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) jacked an opposite-field home run with one away in the third to put the Crusaders (14-21) on the board.
- The Fighting Irish got the run back in the bottom of the third on a two-out single by Kerschner that made it 5-1.
- The defensive highlight of the day came courtesy of Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) in the fifth. He made a sprawling catch on a ball ticketed for the right-center field gap, taking an extra-base knock away from Niko Kavadas. That helped reliever Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich. / Lakeview) put his second straight zero on the board in the fifth.
- Nick Podkul singled to drive in a run in the sixth, growing Notre Dame’s lead to 6-1.
- Shaikin picked up his second RBI of the game with a ground ball to short after Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) and Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) stroked consecutive singles to start the seventh.
- Later in the inning, Leone blooped a double to shallow right, scoring Shaikin from second to trim the Notre Dame lead to 6-3.
- Shaikin blooped a double to shallow left to lead off the ninth inning, then he scored as Garbella singled up the middle to make it 6-4. Leone clobbered a double to the gap in right center to move the tying run into scoring position.
- Valpo moved within a run as Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) lifted a sac fly to score Garbella, but Cole Kmet wiggled out of it to nail down his eighth save.
Inside the Game
- Shaikin’s home run was his team-leading seventh of the season. The blast expanded his career total to 11 home runs.
- Joslyn provided a bright spot out of the bullpen for the Crusaders. He worked 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out one.
- Starting pitcher Michael Mommersteeg (St. Thomas, Ont., Canada / St. Joseph’s) took the loss to drop to 1-1 after allowing five runs (four earned) on four hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.
- Notre Dame starter Tommy Sheehan (2-4) was the pitcher of record on the positive side after permitting one run on four hits and three walks in six innings.
- Shaikin had his team-leading 10th multiple RBI game of the season. He now has 34 RBIs on the year, a total that also leads the team. He had two extra-base knocks on Wednesday.
- With his three-double day, Leone is up to 11 two-baggers on the season. The Valpo first baseman also enjoyed his 11th multi-hit performance of the campaign.
- Leone became the second Valpo player this year with a three-double game, joining Blake Billinger. Before this season, the last time a Valpo player had three doubles in a game was 2008.
The Crusaders will host Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Dallas Baptist for a three-game series at Emory G. Bauer Field this weekend. The fun gets going at 3 p.m. CT on Friday as Jon Tieman takes the mound for the Crusaders. The game will be broadcast on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Ben Ariano doing the play-by-play.