The Valparaiso University baseball team went on the road and defeated one of the top teams in the Missouri Valley Conference standings on Friday night, besting Evansville 8-4 on a night where the temperatures were every bit as pleasant as the outcome at Braun Stadium in Evansville, Ind. Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) turned in his third four-hit game of the season to lead a 16-hit attack by the Beacons, who matched a season high in the hit column.
How It Happened
- Valpo got off to a strong start as Tucker singled and Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) doubled to place runners at second and third with nobody out in the top of the first.
- Valpo cashed in on the first-inning scoring chance as Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) rapped a single that plated a pair before Kade Reinertson (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) and Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) had run-scoring singles of their own. In total, the inning featured six hits leading to four runs.
- The Purple Aces got a run back in the bottom of the first, but an excellent catch by Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) in deep center prevented further damage and ended the inning.
- The Beacons boosted the lead back to four right away as Tucker drilled a double to left center for his second hit of the day in the top of the second, scoring Ryan to make it 5-1.
- Miller was lifted after throwing 57 pitches over three solid innings in advance of this week’s MVC Tournament. He yielded just one run on three hits while walking two and striking out one, putting up zeros in each of the final two innings that he worked. He gave way to Connor Lockwood (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville), who put up zeros in the fourth and fifth as Evansville stranded a pair in each frame.
- The Beacons added to the lead in the top of the sixth by capitalizing on an Aces error. Ryan laid down a squeeze bunt to score the first run, then Hannahs ripped his second double of the game, driving in a pair to bolster the lead to 8-1.
- Evansville stranded another against Lockwood in the bottom of the sixth as Ryan made another excellent catch in deep center during that frame, helping the lead remain seven at 8-1.
- Lockwood mowed down the Aces in order in the seventh to keep the lead at seven.
- Evansville scored twice in the bottom of the eighth to spell the end of the day for Lockwood and trim the lead to five. A nicely-turned double play by the Beacon infield helped Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee]) use just two pitches to get two outs and retire the side.
- Evansville picked up a run in the bottom of the ninth, but Lebamoff notched the final out to seal the win.
Inside the Game
- Tucker posted four hits, his 10th multi-hit output of the season and fifth game with three hits or more. This marked his third four-hit game of the season as he now owns three of the team’s five four-hit games in 2022.
- Five Beacons enjoyed multi-hit games as Tucker was joined by Hannahs, Renfro, Adam Brauch (Waukee, Iowa / Dowling Catholic) and Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest).
- Valpo’s 16 hits tied a season high reached on March 25, 2022 vs. St. Bonaventure. This represented the team’s highest hit total in MVC play this season.
- After entering his last three outings with an 8.90 ERA, Lockwood has allowed just two runs over his last 10 innings in his recent games.
- Miller was awarded his sixth win, the most by a Valpo pitcher since Dalton Lundeen had seven in 2016. The lefty was credited with the win despite going fewer than five innings since the short outing was predetermined based on the quick turnaround for the MVC Tournament.
Valpo (16-31, 5-15 MVC) and Evansville will conclude the regular season on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Braun Stadium. The game will air on ESPN3. Links to live video and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.