The Valparaiso University baseball team had Big Ten instate foe Purdue on the ropes by taking the lead in the seventh inning, but the host Boilermakers tied the game with two in the bottom of the seventh and eventually walked off in the bottom of the 10th with a 6-5 victory at Alexander Field in West Lafayette, Ind.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped on the board in the top of the first when Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) led off the contest by ripping a triple then trotted home on a ground out to second by Kaleb Hannahs (West Lafayette, Ind. / West Vigo).
- A pair of errors by the Purdue second baseman allowed Valpo to tally a run in the third, doubling the lead to 2-0.
- Freshman Connor Lockwood (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) was electric through the first four innings. He got three fly ball outs in a quick first, then yielded just a single base runner in each of the next two innings. The rookie righty sent down the side in order in the fourth including a pair of strikeouts.
- The Boilermakers got to Lockwood for three runs on three hits, all singles, in the fifth. That allowed the hosts to leap in front, but Lockwood bounced back by sending down the side in order in the sixth including a pair of solid plays in center by Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran).
- A key moment in the game occurred in the top of the seventh as Valpo put together a string of two-out baserunners. A hit batter, single and walk loaded the bases and prompted a Purdue pitching change before Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) stepped up to the plate and delivered a bases-clearing double. His clutch swing produced a deep drive to right center that put the Beacons back ahead at 5-3.
- Purdue tied the game in the bottom of the seventh by scoring twice. The first run scored on a wild pickoff throw and the second on a two-out double. Both runs were charged to Lockwood, though they scored after he left the game.
- The Boilermakers threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth but Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central [Kankakee]) was summoned from the bullpen with two outs and the go-ahead run at second. He did his job, notching the final out of the inning with the score even at five.
- Valpo had runners at first and third with one away in the top of the ninth and attempted a safety squeeze bunt, but the runner came too far down the line and was caught in a rundown for the second out with the other runners remaining at first and second. Those runners were eventually left stranded.
- In the bottom of the ninth, a Boilermaker reached on an error and that runner went first-to-third on a sac bunt where Valpo left third base unoccupied. However, Nowak wiggled out of the jam that featured the winning run at third with one away by notching a clutch strikeout and a fly ball to right.
- Valpo threatened again in the top of the 10th but stranded two. In the bottom of the 10th, a base hit, an error and a hit by pitch preceded a walk-off single.
Inside the Game
- This marked Valpo’s first extra-inning game of the season and first since beating Missouri State in 10 innings in the MVC Tournament on May 25, 2021 in Carbondale.
- Valpo fell to 2-3 in one-run games and 5-7 in games decided by two runs or fewer this season.
- Valpo continued to play tight games against their instate, power-five foes from the Big Ten Conference. Valpo has played Purdue seven times during Brian Schmack’s head coaching tenure, and all seven have been decided by four runs or fewer including a pair of Valpo victories.
- Kade Reinertson (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) went 2-for-3 with two walks, reaching base four times to pace the Beacon bats. This was his first collegiate multi-hit game.
- Thurston’s triple was his second of the season and the fourth of his career.
- Renfro moved into the team lead in RBIs with 23 thanks to his bases-clearing double.
- Lockwood pitched well but received no decision and was charged with five runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four over six plus innings.
Valpo (13-23) will begin a three-game series at Southern Illinois on Friday night at 6 p.m. All three games will air on ESPN3. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.