The Valparaiso University baseball team surged from behind for three runs in the bottom of the ninth to create a seven-all deadlock in Sunday’s home finale at Emory G. Bauer Field, but visiting Evansville scored four in the top of the 10th and held on for an 11-9 victory in a game that featured a frenetic finish. Matt Olive (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) delivered a game-tying pinch-hit single in the bottom of the ninth, but Valpo stranded the bases full.
How It Happened
- The Purple Aces (26-24, 9-14) scored four times in the opening inning including a three-run homer. They added two in the third to pull out to a 6-0 edge.
- Valpo broke through with a four-run fifth inning including a run-scoring double by Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central), an RBI single by Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) and a two-run base hit by Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson).
- Evansville added an unearned insurance tally in the sixth to make it 7-4.
- Valpo stayed within striking distance thanks in part to the pitching of Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee CC]) and Nathan Chasey (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indiana Hills CC]), who combined for five innings of two-hit relief while yielding no earned runs.
- It remained 7-4 until the bottom of the ninth, when Parker Johnson (Golden Valley, Minn. / Hopkins) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) lifted a sacrifice fly and Olive rapped his aforementioned pinch hit to left to tie the game at seven. Valpo had the bases full with only one away, but the Purple Aces escaped without further damage to get the game to extras.
- Four scored for Evansville in the top of the 10th, including a two-out, bases-clearing double by Robbie Wilkes that proved to be the game’s decisive blow.
- Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) smacked a two-run double down the left-field line in the bottom of the 10th to make it 11-9 and get the tying run to the plate, but the Aces recorded the final two outs to take the series.
Inside the Game
- Sunday marked Valpo’s fourth extra-inning game this season and first since March 26 at Butler. This was the team’s first Missouri Valley Conference contest that featured bonus baseball this year.
- Schmack totaled three hits, while Dent and DiFederico contributed multi-hit outputs. Valpo outhit Evansville 12-10 and had eight walks to Evansville’s four. However, the Brown & Gold stranded 14 runners on base and Evansville stranded just five.
- Fitzsimmons extended his hitting streak to 11 games, the longest by a Valpo player this season. In addition, he reached base for the 14th consecutive contest, one shy of tying Brady Renfro for the team’s longest such streak this season.
- Valpo batted .311 as a team over 13 home games this season with seven different players hitting over .300 at home. The team finished with a winning home mark at 7-6.
Valpo (14-29, 9-15) will begin the final four-game series of the season on Thursday by visiting Missouri State for an 11:30 a.m. CT first pitch in Springfield, Mo. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ with links to live video, audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.