A high-scoring first four innings gave way to a bullpen battle over the final five frames in a game that saw host Tennessee Tech hold on to edge the Valparaiso University baseball team 12-8 on Tuesday. Valpo’s offense was strong early, racking up eight runs in the first four frames.
How It Happened
- Senior Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) helped Valpo capitalize on a leadoff error as he smoked a two-out double to left in the top of the first, driving in the first run of the day.
- The Golden Eagles (10-5) got three in the bottom of the first as Kevin Strohschein picked up a run-scoring double and Jason Hinchman clubbed a two-run homer.
- Valpo went back on top thanks to a prosperous top of the second inning that saw the team put up a three spot to go ahead 4-3. Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) lashed a run-scoring single, then Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) and Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) smoked back-to-back doubles, each of which drove in runs. Shaikin’s one-hop smash off the wall gave Valpo the 4-3 edge.
- Hinchman rearranged the scoreboard with his second home run in as many innings, this time a grand slam in the bottom of the second. That put Tennessee Tech back in front 7-4.
- The trend of both teams scoring in each inning continued in the top of the third when Damon Jorgensen (Blair, Neb. / Blair [Coffeysville]) ripped a solo homer to left. Keegan Bates (Plainfield, Ill. / Plainfield North) took over on the mound for Valpo in the bottom of the third and tossed the first zero of the day by either team, sending the Golden Eagles down in order.
- Valpo put runs on the board for the fourth straight inning and posted its second three-run frame of the day in the fourth. Billinger singled home a run before Valpo took advantage of some wildness on the part of the Golden Eagles as Kevin Barry (Bartlett, Ill. / South Elgin) was hit with a pitch with the bases loaded and Jorgensen worked a run-scoring walk. Valpo held an 8-7 lead through three and a half.
- The early-game offensive explosion continued in the bottom of the fourth as three walks, a hit batter and three wild pitches helped the Golden Eagles respond with three runs to go back on top 10-8.
- The first pitcher to impress on Tuesday was Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland), who put the kibosh on the constant scoring by retiring all six men he faced over the fifth and sixth innings. Valpo didn’t score in that time, allowing the hosts to maintain a 10-8 edge.
- Hinchman belted his third home run of the game in the bottom of the eighth, a solo blast that made it 11-8. Then, Tennessee Tech tacked on one more in that inning to build the lead to 12-8, which represented the final score.
Inside the Game
- Jorgensen’s third-inning big fly was not only his first home run of the year, but also his first extra-base knock in a Valpo uniform.
- Fitzsimmons, Billinger and Dent all had multi-hit days. Dent took over sole possession of the team lead with five multi-hit showings on the season, while Billinger had his fourth and Fitzsimmons his second.
- Nic Dye (2-1) picked up the win for Tennessee Tech after throwing 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief, while Keegan Bates (0-2) incurred the loss for Valpo.
Valpo (2-11) will return to the diamond on Friday at 3 p.m. at Northern Illinois. The game will be broadcast on NIU All-Access. Links to live video and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.