The Valparaiso University baseball team has positioned itself to play for a second consecutive series win on Sunday afternoon after taking two of the first three games from Missouri Valley Conference foe Illinois State.
Valpo outslugged the Redbirds 17-13 in the nightcap of a zany doubleheader on a blustery Saturday at Emory G. Bauer Field. That came after Illinois State captured a 12-3 victory in the opener on a day where the wind was howling out at up to 25 miles per hour.
How It Happened – Game 1
- Illinois State’s first inning didn’t feature hard-hit balls, but several bloop singles helped the Redbirds jump out to a 2-0 lead.
- Aidan Huggins lifted a three-run homer to right in the second to make it 5-0 Illinois State.
- The Redbirds put up three in the fourth, but Valpo got on the board by scoring twice in the sixth to cut the lead to 8-2. Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) scored on a wild pitch before Jake Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) grounded a run-scoring single through the left side.
- Illinois State tacked on four in the seventh before an RBI single by Hannahs in the bottom of the seventh provided the final tally of the seven-inning affair.
How It Happened – Game 2
- Senior Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) clubbed a three-run homer to right to give Valpo a first-inning lead in Game 2. The Brown & Gold went on to add three more in the inning as Parker Johnson (Golden Valley, Minn. / Hopkins) lashed a two-run single and Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) batted home a run with his single to make it 6-0.
- Jonathan Temple (Turlock, Calif. / Turlock [Modesto JC]) crushed a two-run homer to center in the second to make it 8-0, then Johnson added an RBI double. Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) joined the fun with a two-run triple, and Valpo held a commanding 11-0 lead in only the second inning.
- Illinois State got on the board with three in the third including a two-run homer, but Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) responded with a long home run that narrowly stayed fair down the right-field line in the fourth to make it 12-3.
- The Redbirds got back in the game with a five-run fifth to slice the lead to four at 12-8 after a frame that featured two Illinois State home runs.
- The Valpo offense went back to work in the fifth as Dent smoked a two-run double before Renfro ripped an RBI single to make it 15-8.
- Illinois State got one in the top of the seventh, but Valpo responded with two in the bottom of the frame as Dent and Temple hit back-to-back jacks, the second home run of the day for each player.
- The Redbirds got two runs in the eighth and two more in the ninth, but at long last the game came to an end after the two teams combined for 30 runs and 35 hits.
Inside the Games
- The 17 runs in Game 2 marked Valpo’s highest single-game output since scoring 18 on May 8, 2018 at Western Michigan.
- The 18 hits marked Valpo’s highest total since also notching 18 hits on May 23, 2018 at DBU.
- Temple and Dent hit Valpo’s third set of back-to-back home runs this season.
- Dent became the first Valpo player with a two-homer game since Blake Billinger on April 20, 2019 at SIUE, then Temple became the first Valpo player with a two-homer game since Dent the previous batter.
- The Brown & Gold launched five long balls in Game 2, the team’s highest single-game home run total since hitting six on April 4, 2006 vs. Ball State.
- Valpo had seven doubles in Game 2, its highest total since March 3, 2018 (seven at Grand Canyon). In addition, the seven doubles marked the highest total by any Missouri Valley Conference team in a game this season.
- Valpo had 42 total bases in Game 2, the team’s highest total-base output since also totaling 42 bags on April 4, 2006 at Ball State. The 42 total bases were also the most by any MVC team in a game this season.
- Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee CC]) earned the win in Game 2 by tossing 1 1/3 innings of scoreless, hitless ball to improve to 2-0. Valpo bounced Illinois State starter Colin Wyman after 1/3 of an inning and he was tagged with six earned runs on five hits to take the defeat and slip to 0-2.
- Renfro, Temple and Dent had three hits apiece in Game 2 as the heart of the lineup (3-5) combined to go 9-for-12 with five home runs, three doubles and 11 RBIs.
- Dent and Temple both had three extra-base knocks – two homers and one double.
- Dent accrued six RBIs, the highest total by a Valpo player in a single game since Jayden Eggimann had seven on April 11, 2018 vs. Milwaukee.
- Hannahs went 4-for-4 in Game 1, becoming the second Valpo player (Dent) with a four-hit game this season. The freshman totaled six hits during the doubleheader.
- Between the two games, there were a total of 45 runs and 59 hits on Saturday at Emory G. Bauer Field. Game 2 featured the most runs (30), hits (25), doubles (9), total bases (73) and strikeouts (25) of any MVC game this season.
- Alex Rodriguez (Bourbonnais, Ill. / Bradley-Bourbonnais) worked two scoreless innings of relief in Game 1, while lefty Keegan Bates (Plainfield, Ill. / Plainfield) did not yield a run in his frame of action.
- Renfro extended his on-base streak to 21, Valpo’s longest since current volunteer assistant coach Sam Shaikin’s 23-game streak in 2017.
- Valpo head coach Brian Schmack is one victory away from tying Rick Ferchen (147) for fourth in program history.
Valpo (10-23, 5-10) and Illinois State (18-24, 8-7) will round out the four-game series with a 1 p.m. start on Sunday. The game will be broadcast on 95.1 FM Valparaiso, the Valpo Sports Network. Links to live audio and stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.