The Valparaiso University baseball team pounded out eight extra-base hits including three home runs on Saturday afternoon at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Ill., coasting to a 10-2 victory over host Illinois State to even this weekend’s three-game series at one victory apiece. Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) enjoyed a two-homer game to back the effort of starting pitcher Jake Miller (Chester, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep), who was perfect through four and delivered 5 2/3 quality innings. Valpo picked up its most lopsided win in league play since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
How It Happened
- Miller cruised throughout the first trip through the Illinois State lineup, sending down the first nine Redbirds he faced.
- Valpo struck first in the top of the fourth, when Schmack belted a 380-foot home run to left to start the scoring.
- Miller again retired the side in order in the fourth, before his perfect game bid came to an end in the bottom of the fifth on a leadoff single. That runner was quickly erased as Angel DiFederico (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) picked him off with a back pick.
- Valpo scored a pair of unearned runs in the sixth with help from some wobbly Redbird defense as the hosts committed a pair of errors. One of the runs crossed the dish on a run-scoring double by Adam Brauch (Waukee, Iowa / Dowling Catholic).
- Miller ran into trouble for the first time in the game in the bottom of the sixth, when he struck out a pair but also gave up two hits and two walks. The second of those walks forced in a run and spelled the end of the day for Miller.
- After missing last weekend’s games due to an injury, Nathan Chasey (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indian-Hills CC]) made his return to the mound in a high-pressure spot, with the bases loaded for Illinois State and Valpo clinging to a 3-1 lead. Chasey notched a looking strikeout that fired up the visiting dugout and kept the Beacons in front 3-1 with the Redbirds stranding the maximum.
- Valpo got the run back and more in the top of the seventh, which featured a two-out uprising that started when Hannahs smoked a double off the wall in left to drive chase in a run. The Valpo middle of the order continued to deliver a moment later, when Schmack belted his second homer of the day, this one traveling 407 feet to center. The two-run shot extended the advantage to 6-1.
- Chasey posted a zero in the seventh, when one of Illinois State’s two hits was erased on a double play.
- Valpo added two more in the eighth as Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) and Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) both belted run-scoring doubles. The lead continued to grow in the ninth as Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) jacked a two-run bomb to right that traveled 416 feet and made it a 10-1 game.
- Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee]) pitched the final two innings to solidify the victory. He did permit a solo shot that was narrowly fair down the right-field line with two outs in the ninth to account for the 10-2 final.
Inside the Game
- Schmack’s home runs were his fourth and fifth of the season and the sixth and seventh of his collegiate career. He lifted his RBI total to a team-high 21, while Hannahs RBI upped his total to 20.
- Schmack became the first Valpo player with a two-homer game since Hannahs on Feb. 20 of this season at Memphis.
- Miller struck out five and walked two while allowing just three hits over 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball to earn his fourth win.
- After seeing his 16-game on-base streak end on Friday, Hannahs doubled twice in Saturday’s game. He is up to a team-leading 11 doubles on the season.
- Brauch joined Schmack and Hannahs with multi-hit games. Tucker finished with three hits, his third game this season with three or more.
- Valpo drilled five doubles and three homers to total eight extra-base knocks. Eight of the team’s 13 hits went for extra bases.
- The Beacons racked up five or more doubles in a game for the first time since May 1, 2021, also against Illinois State. In that game, Valpo achieved seven two-baggers.
- The eight-run margin of victory was Valpo’s largest since joining the Missouri Valley Conference. The team’s previous largest most lopsided wins in conference play were seven-run margins, a 10-3 win at Bradley last season and a 9-2 home triumph over Dallas Baptist in April 2018.
Valpo (12-18, 1-4 MVC) and Illinois State will round out the three-game series with an Easter Sunday matinee that begins at 1 p.m. at Duffy Bass Field in Normal. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3. Links to live video, audio and stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.