Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) drilled his second career home run and Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) ripped a bases-clearing double, but a late rally came up short as the Valparaiso University baseball team fell 7-5 to Eastern Illinois on Tuesday at Rantoul Sports Complex in Rantoul, Ill.
How It Happened
- A leadoff walk came back to bite the Beacons in the opening frame as that led to a run for Eastern Illinois in the bottom of the first to give the hosts a 1-0 advantage.
- Eastern Illinois scored three times in the bottom of the third to expand the lead to 4-0. It could have been more if it weren’t for a cannon from Drudge in right, who cut down a runner at the dish on a 9-2 outfield assist. In the next inning, Valpo got another piece of quality outfield defense as Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) came in to make a nifty sliding grab in center.
- Valpo got on the board as Tucker led off the fifth with a line-drive shot over the left-field fence for a home run to make it a 4-1 ballgame. The Beacons had a chance for more in the fifth with two on and one away, but settled for the single tally.
- The Panthers expanded the lead to 6-1 in the fifth by scoring twice on four hits.
- Reliever Jacob Rosenkranz (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) worked a scoreless sixth, inducing an inning-ending double play. He came on in relief of Connor Lockwood (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville), who allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits and four walks while striking out three in 4 2/3 innings. Rosenkranz was charged with no runs on one hit and one walk in his 1 1/3 innings.
- A double steal that included a delayed steal of home helped EIU add one in the eighth to expand the lead to 7-1.
- Valpo rallied in the bottom of the ninth, which started with a Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) double. Drudge eventually cleared the bases with a two-bagger of his own, trimming the deficit to 7-4. With two outs, Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) lashed a run-scoring single to right to shrink the lead to 7-5, then a collision between two Panther fielders in shallow right allowed Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) to reach and set up runners at second and third with two down. However, the Beacons stranded the potential tying run in scoring position.
Inside the Game
- Tucker’s home run was his first of the season and the second of his career.
- Ryan had a pair of hits, his second multi-hit game of the season. Thurston had his 10th multi-hit game of the year, while Drudge enjoyed his second.
- Drudge’s double was his first of the season. He over doubled his season RBI total with one swing of the bat, boosting that count from two to five.
- This was Valpo’s 10th game decided by two runs or fewer as the Beacons dropped to 4-6 in such contests.
- Hannahs extended his on-base streak to 16, while Thurston extended his to 15.
Valpo (11-17) will travel to Illinois State for a three-game Easter Weekend series that begins on Friday at 5 p.m. All three games will air on ESPN3 with links to live video and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.