A special start to the Valparaiso University baseball season continued on Friday night with the season’s biggest feat yet as the Beacons knocked off No. 22 Southern Miss 6-1, handing 2022 consensus All-American Tanner Hall the loss in the series opener. This marked the program’s first win over a nationally-ranked opponent since 2018 and the highest ranked opponent that Valpo has defeated since 2013. Jacob Rosenkranz (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) turned in a quality start and garnered the victory, while Brandy Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) launched a grand slam.
How It Happened
- Valpo jumped out to an early lead, scoring twice in the opening inning. Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) crushed a triple to right that drove in Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo), while Jake Skrine (Longmount, Colo. / Mead [Indiana]) grounded a two-out single up the middle to make it 2-0.
- Rosenkranz retired the side in order in each of the first two innings. The Beacons had a chance to add to their lead in the third with runners at first and third and nobody out, but Hall wiggled out of the jam.
- The Eagles got on the board in the third, but the Valpo middle infield turned an inning-ending double play to keep the guests in front 2-1.
- Rosenkranz kept it rolling, sending down the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He retired the final 10 Eagles he faced.
- Valpo had one runner make an out on the bases, but still loaded the sacks thanks to two singles and two walks in the seventh. That set the stage for Renfro, who belted a 409-foot grand slam with an exit velocity of 104 to stretch the lead to 6-1.
- Rosenkranz was lifted after six sound innings, giving way to Ryan Mintz (Lombard, Ill. / Willowbrook) on the mound. The righty posted a zero in the seventh thanks to a pair of strikeouts as the Golden Eagles stranded a runner at third.
- Southern Miss had the bases full with nobody out in the eighth, but Mintz worked out of the jam with a strikeout followed by an around-the-horn, inning-ending double play to keep Valpo in front by five.
- Southern Miss again threatened in the ninth, but the Beacons once again turned two, this time ending the game.
Inside the Game
- This win snapped a streak of 15 straight losses against Top-25 opponents and marked the team’s first victory against a ranked squad since beating No. 25 Illinois on April 17, 2018. Southern Miss’ No. 22 ranking marks the highest by a team that Valpo defeated since the win over No. 9 Arizona State on April 21, 2013.
- Southern Miss entered the game ranked No. 22 by Baseball America, the NCBWA and D1Baseball.com, while ranking No. 24 in the coaches’ poll and No. 30 according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
- Southern Miss starting pitcher Tanner Hall was a Preseason All-American pick by D1Baseball, Perfect Game, Collegiate Baseball and Baseball America. He made the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list this season after he was a consensus first-team All-American as a sophomore a year ago. He went six innings and allowed two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out five on Friday, taking the loss.
- Southern Miss was the preseason favorite to win the Sun Belt Conference and won an NCAA Regional last season before falling to Ole Miss in the Super Regional. They own a streak of six straight 40-win seasons, the longest such streak in Division-I baseball. The Golden Eagles swept former Missouri Valley Conference member (and powerhouse) Dallas Baptist last weekend.
- The triple by Tucker was his first of the season and the second of his career. It was the first triple by a member of the Beacons this season.
- Valpo scored in the first inning for the fifth time in 11 games this season. In addition, the Beacons have scored first in eight of the team’s 11 contests.
- Rosenkranz made his first start of the season and the second of his collegiate career. His previous start was on March 14, 2021 at Middle Tennessee. This start was just a tad bit better than that one, when he did not record an out and was charged with three runs on one hit while walking two.
- Rosenkranz’s final line featured one run on two hits while striking out three and walking one over six frames. He picked up the victory, the second of his career, both this season.
- Renfro’s grand slam was the first by a Valpo player since Sam Shaikin on March 3, 2019 at UNCW. Renfro’s home run was his second of the season and the 13th of his Valpo career.
- Tucker and Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) both had multiple hits, and both reached base three times in the game.
- Mintz pitched the final three innings without allowing a run, striking out three and walking one while yielding two hits and hitting four batters. He was credited with the save, the first of his career.
- The Beacons improved to 7-4, the team’s best record through 11 games since 1987 (6-3-2) and highest win total through 11 games since 1985 (seven).
- Valpo pitching held Southern Miss to just four hits on Friday.
The series continues as Valpo and No. 22 Southern Miss square off at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+. Please note that Sunday’s start time has been moved up to 11 a.m. due to the weather forecast.