The Valparaiso University baseball team had traffic on the bases throughout the evening, but the visiting Beacons stranded 13 in a 4-0 loss to host Southern Illinois on Friday night at Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. Valpo received another quality start from Colin Fields (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville), who took a tough-luck defeat as he was touched for two runs in his sixth and final frame. Valpo outhit SIU 11-8, but the guests were on the wrong end of the column that counts. Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) enjoyed Valpo’s first five-hit game since 2018.
How It Happened
- Southern Illinois put together a major threat in the bottom of the first, but Valpo’s decision to play the infield in paid off as a ground ball to first base turned into an out at the plate, then Fields recorded a strikeout for the final out of the frame.
- Valpo had scoring chances in both the second and third innings, but came up empty handed in both instances. The Beacons had runners at first and second with one away in the second, and the bases full with two down in the third. The fourth inning also produced a Beacon scoring chance, but a line-drive double play ended a chance that featured two on with one away.
- A game of opportunities on both sides continued in the bottom of the fourth, when SIU had a leadoff double and a runner at third with one away. Fields came up with two clutch strikeouts to strand the runner 90 feet away and keep the game scoreless.
- For the fourth straight inning, Valpo had multiple baserunners in the fifth, but once again the Beacons had nothing to show for it as they stranded two.
- The Salukis touched Fields for two runs in the bottom of the sixth including back-to-back doubles down the right-field line to start the frame. The two runs in that inning snapped the scoreless tie.
- The top of the seventh started with a leadoff triple by Thurston, but he was cut down at the dish on a ground ball to third.
- Valpo went to the bullpen in the bottom of the seventh as Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee]) took over and twirled a perfect frame.
- Valpo traffic on the bases continued in the top of the eighth as the Beacons had runners at first and third, but they were left stranded.
- SIU tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to double the lead to four. The inning ended on a double play by Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) in center as he cut down a runner trying to tag up and score an additional run.
- Valpo had runners at first and third in the top of the ninth, but stranded two more.
Inside the Game
- Thurston’s five-hit game was his first of the season with four hits or more. It marked his 11th multi-hit output and fifth contest with three hits or more. Thurston became the first Valpo player with a five-hit game since Scott Kapers on May 8, 2018 vs. Western Michigan.
- Thurston became just the third Beacon with four or more hits in a game this season, joining Kaleb Hannahs and Nolan Tucker. The five hits represented a career high and his first collegiate game with more than three knocks.
- Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) reached base three times to extend his on-base streak to 12.
- Fields struck out nine, his 10th time in 11 starts with seven or more strikeouts this season. That lifted his league-leading season strikeout total to 91 and his career strikeout accumulation to 241, eighth in program history. He is three away from tying his former teammate Jon Tieman for seventh in Valpo lore.
- Fields scattered five hits and walked three during his six frames, while permitting two runs in the quality start.
- Valpo created plenty of chances, but stranded 13 on base in the shutout setback.
Valpo (13-24, 2-8 MVC) will continue the three-game series with a noon start on Saturday. Note that the start time has been changed to noon due to the weather forecast. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.