The Valparaiso University baseball team held the lead through five innings against No. 14 Notre Dame, but the nationally-ranked Fighting Irish came back to edge the Brown & Gold 6-3 on Tuesday evening at Frank Eck Stadium in Notre Dame, Ind. Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) led Valpo with two hits, while Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) and Parker Johnson (Golden Valley, Minn. / Hopkins) each ripped key extra-base knocks in Valpo’s three-run fifth.
How It Happened
- Valpo threatened in each of the first two innings. A pair of walks set up a scoring chance in the opening frame before two walks and a hit batter allowed the visitors to load the bags in the second. However, the Fighting Irish (10-3) escaped unscathed in both instances. Notre Dame starting pitcher Cameron Brown left after 1 2/3 innings while issuing four passes.
- After working around two walks in the opening inning, Valpo starting pitcher Zach Fricke (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) sent down the side in order in the second.
- Hannahs notched the first hit of the game by either team in the top of the third, but he was stranded aboard. Fricke worked around a two-out error in the bottom of the third to put another goose egg on the board.
- Notre Dame picked up its first hit of the day when Niko Kavadas launched a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth. Later in the inning, an RBI single by Zack Prajzner made it 2-0. A diving stop by first baseman Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) accounted for the final out of the inning and allowed Valpo to escape without further damage.
- Valpo responded in the top of the fifth. After consecutive hits to start the inning by Schmack and Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson), Drudge ripped a triple to deep center to drive in a pair and tie the game. Later in the inning, Johnson bounced one over the fence in right center for a ground-rule double that gave Valpo its first lead of the day at 3-2.
- Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) was summoned from the Valpo bullpen for the fifth inning and sent down three straight following a leadoff walk. A squeeze bunt by Jack Brannigan helped the Fighting Irish tie the game in the sixth, then the hosts regained the lead on a two-out single by Carter Putz to make it 4-3.
- The Fighting Irish added a pair in the seventh as Kavadas launched his second home run of the game and Prajzner lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3.
- Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) came on for the eighth and fanned a pair, continuing to elevate a career strikeout total that already sits in the Top 10 in program history. In the process, he worked a shutout frame to keep it 6-3, which proved to be the final score.
Inside the Game
- The two RBIs by Drudge lifted his season total to 10, making him the first player on the team to crack double figures in that area.
- The triple was the second of the season for Drudge, who leads the team with seven extra-base knocks. Seven of his 10 hits have gone for extra bases.
- Fricke allowed two runs on four hits and one walk in four innings during his first start of the season, while Rhodehouse (1-1) was hit with the defeat in relief.
- Johnson picked up his second double and fifth RBI of the season. He ranks third on the team in RBIs behind Drudge and Dent.
- Hannahs’ two-hit day marked his fourth multi-hit output of the season.
- The two teams were even in the hit column with seven hits apiece.
- Although Valpo has dropped nine straight to Notre Dame, the majority of those have been close including one-run games in 2018 and 2019. This was perhaps the most impressive Valpo performance against the Irish in recent memory as Notre Dame is nationally ranked in all six polls, including 14th by D1Baseball and 12th by Baseball America.
Valpo (4-10) will return to action on Friday against Butler in Indianapolis. The game is slated to begin at 3 p.m. CT. In addition, Valpo and Butler have announced a schedule change for this weekend as all three games will take place in Indianapolis. The two teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 11 a.m. CT.