The Valparaiso University baseball team capped off a winning weekend on Sunday afternoon by topping visiting Southern Illinois 4-2 to take three of four in the Missouri Valley Conference series at Emory G. Bauer Field. Although not quite as heart-pounding as Friday’s walk-off victories, Sunday’s finale featured a thrilling finish of its own as Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) escaped a ninth-inning jam with the tying run on base to nail down the save.
How It Happened
- A chilly afternoon at the ballpark got off to an equally cold start for the Brown & Gold, who committed a pair of first-inning errors leading to an unearned run for the Salukis (26-12, 6-10).
- Starting pitcher Zach Fricke (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) minimized the damage masterfully, as that unearned tally proved to be the only run he would yield over six dazzling innings. The righty fanned nine and issued just one walk.
- Valpo got on the board in a unique fourth inning as the team placed four ground-ball singles perfectly and worked a walk. The third of those singles was a roller to the left side that plated a run as the shortstop’s throw to third was tardy.
- After his team evened the score at one in the fourth, Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) ripped a clutch, two-out single to left in the fifth to give Valpo its first lead of the day at 3-1.
- In the sixth, Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) stole third and scampered home on an error as the throw sailed into left field. That insurance tally made it 4-1.
- Rhodehouse was summoned from the bullpen for his third appearance of the series and retired six of the first seven men he faced in the process of working scoreless seventh and eighth innings. The senior righty allowed two hits (including an RBI triple) and a walk in the ninth to elevate heart rates around the ballpark, but he induced a fly ball to deep left field that was caught for the final out of the victory.
Inside the Game
- Fricke fanned a career-high nine batters en route to his first victory of the season. In his career against Southern Illinois, he has allowed just one earned run over 15 innings while striking out 14 and permitting just eight hits.
- Rhodehouse picked up his first save of the year and his first since May 14, 2019 vs. Chicago State. The save marked the ninth of his career, moving into a tie with Adam Paetznick (2001-2004) for sixth in the program record book in career saves.
- Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo), Matt Olive (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) and Steven Fitzimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) all enjoyed multi-hit games, helping Valpo outhit SIU 10-7. Olive went 5-for-9 in the three-game set, while Johnson (.462), DiFederico (.455) and Dent (.429) all hit above .400 in the series as well.
- Valpo is 5-1 in six games against Southern Illinois at Emory G. Bauer Field since joining The Valley. Valpo’s last two home series have come against the Salukis as this weekend marked Valpo’s first home series since May 2019.
Valpo (8-21, 3-9) will visit No. 10 Notre Dame on Tuesday at 4 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. ET for a midweek contest. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra with links to live video and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.