The Valparaiso University baseball team enjoyed its second straight prosperous offensive day on Sunday afternoon at Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill., as another double-figure run output helped the visiting Beacons top Southern Illinois 11-10. The Salukis entered the day tied for first place in the Missouri Valley Conference. Valpo scored early and often, putting up multiple runs in four of the first five innings, including a four-run third.
How It Happened
- Valpo took an immediate lead in the opening inning when Kyle Schmack blasted a two-run homer to left. Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo), who had reached on an error, was along for the ride on the long ball to help the guests to the early 2-0 lead.
- Another big swing allowed Valpo to double the lead in the second. Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) drilled a two-run shot to left with Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) along for the ride after leading off the inning with a single. That extended the edge to 4-0.
- The third inning started modestly for the Beacons as the first two batters of the inning – the No. 2 and No. 3 hitters in the lineup – were retired. However, a two-out rally eventually led to four runs to double the lead to eight. Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) and Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) ripped back-to-back two-out doubles to chase SIU starting pitcher Ben Chapman from the game. After a walk to Drudge, Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) and Jake Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) each added RBI singles, and another run crossed the plate on an SIU error to make it 8-0.
- The Salukis got three back in the bottom of the third thanks to three singles and two walks. That cut the Valpo lead to five.
- Valpo expanded the gap back to seven in the fifth by once again doing damage with two down. Ryan went the other way and poked a run-scoring single through the right side before Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) followed suit with a base knock of his own to make it 10-3.
- SIU scored one in the bottom of the fifth and three in the seventh, but Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee]) came in from the bullpen and extinguished the fire with a looking strikeout to strand a runner at third. The three runs in the frame made it a 10-7 game.
- Closer Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central [Kankakee]) began the eighth inning in an effort to nail down a six-out save. He put up a zero in the bottom of the eighth before Valpo added an important insurance run (but stranded three) in the top of the ninth with the run crossing the dish on a bases-loaded walk to Maka.
- SIU scored three times in the bottom of the ninth and had the potential tying run in scoring position and potential winning run on base, but Nowak notched a looking strikeout for the final out as the Beacons held on for the win.
Inside the Game
- Schmack’s home run was his sixth of the season and the eighth of his collegiate career.
- Ryan’s home run was the first of his collegiate career. He became the second Beacon to hit his first collegiate long ball this weekend after Jake Kapers did so on Saturday.
- Ryan’s three RBIs marked a career high. In fact, this was the first multiple-RBI game of the sophomore’s collegiate career.
- Renfro, Tucker and Ryan had two hits apiece, while Schmack recorded three hits, his fifth three-hit game of the year and his team-leading 16th multi-hit game. Eight of the nine batters in the lineup had at least one hit.
- Eight of Valpo’s 11 runs came with two outs.
- Saturday and Sunday at SIU marked the first time this season that Valpo produced a double-figure run total in consecutive games. In fact, those two games represented the team’s two highest run totals of the year. Valpo also had a double-figure hit total in all three games of a series for the second time this year (at UIC).
- After posting crooked numbers in three of the first four innings on Saturday, Valpo put up crooked numbers in four of the first five frames on Sunday.
- Valpo improved to 3-3 in one-run games and 6-7 in games decided by two runs or fewer.
- Starting pitcher Griffin McCluskey (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) picked up his second win after allowing four runs on six hits while walking two and striking out one in five innings.
- Nowak nailed down his eighth save of the season, the most saves by a Valpo player in a single season since Karch Kowalczyk had 11 in 2014. He needs one more save to climb into the Top 5 in single-season program history. By virtue of his eighth save, Nowak is now tied for ninth in program history in career saves in his first season with the Brown & Gold.
Valpo (14-25, 3-9 MVC) will host Western Michigan in a nonconference game on Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field. Note that the start time has been moved to an hour earlier than originally scheduled. There will be no ESPN3/+ broadcast of this contest, but WVUR is scheduled to make an appearance to handle the radio call. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.