After starting the season with 17 consecutive road games, the Valparaiso University baseball team reaped the benefit of the last at-bats in Tuesday’s home opener at Emory G. Bauer Field. Junior Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) ripped a walk-off double to deep right with nobody out in the bottom of the 11th, allowing Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) to easily score from second to send the Beacons to a 7-6 victory over visiting Milwaukee.
How It Happened
- The Panthers started the scoring with two doubles in the top of the second, but Valpo quickly responded when Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) led off the bottom of the inning with a game-tying home run.
- Milwaukee produced a run in the top of the fourth to regain the lead, but Valpo grabbed its first advantage of the day in the bottom of the inning as Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) picked up an RBI on a ground ball to short and Hannahs clubbed a go-ahead double to right center, allowing the hosts to snatch a 3-2 lead.
- The seesaw affair continued in the top of the fifth, when Nate DeYoung hit a two-run homer to put Milwaukee back in front at 4-3.
- Valpo leveled the score on a Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth. The throw home in an effort to cut down Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) got away, causing the runner from first to try to advance, but he was thrown out at second for the final out of the inning.
- The bottom of the sixth started modestly for the Beacons, whose first two batters were retired. Thurston tripled, Hannahs drew a walk and then Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) sent a double down the left-field line to put Valpo ahead 5-4.
- Schmack chopped a single to the left side of the infield to plate Hannahs, but Tucker was cut down trying to score from second on the play as the ball was bobbled with two infielders crossing into each other.
- The Panthers tied the game with a pair of two-out, run-scoring singles in the eighth, causing head coach Brian Schmack to summon Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central [Kankakee]) to get the final out.
- Nowak kept rolling from there, eventually heaving 3 1/3 shutout innings while yielding one hit and walking two. He struck out seven and was the winning pitcher to improve to 2-0.
- Valpo did not score in the eighth, ninth or 10th, but an infield single by Thurston set up the walk-off double by Hannahs in the bottom of the 11th.
Inside the Game
- Hannahs collected three hits, while Tucker, Schmack and Thurston also enjoyed multi-hit outputs. Hannahs reached base five times in the victory.
- Renfro’s home run was his third of the season and his 14th in a Valpo uniform.
- All three of Hannahs’ hits were two baggers, helping him become the first Valpo player since Zack Leone on April 25, 2018 at Notre Dame with three doubles in a game.
- Hannahs became just the second MVC player with a three-double game this year, joining Missouri State’s Taeg Gollert (Feb. 18 vs. Cal Poly).
- Valpo had five doubles, the team’s highest single-game total since April 16, 2022 at Illinois State.
- Thurston’s triple was his first of the season and the sixth of his career.
- Over his last three outings, Nowak has thrown 5 1/3 innings and allowed no runs on one hit while striking out nine. He allowed two runs on March 12 at No. 22 Southern Miss, but has not permitted any runs in his other seven outings this season.
- This was Valpo’s first walk-off win since April 23, 2021, when the Beacons walked off to beat Southern Illinois in both games of a doubleheader, 7-6 in Game 1 and 4-3 in Game 2. Jonathan Temple delivered a walk-off home run in Game 1, and Riley Dent lashed a walk-off single in Game 2.
- This was Valpo’s first extra-game since Feb. 25 of this season at UT Martin, a 5-4, 10-inning win. This was the first time the team played 11 innings since March 20, 2021 at Western Kentucky.
- Valpo improved to 3-0 this season in one-run games. The team’s last one-run affair before Tuesday was also decided by the exact score of 7-6 on March 4 at Little Rock.
Valpo (8-10) is scheduled to start a three-game weekend series against Murray State at 3 p.m. on Friday at Emory G. Bauer Field. The game will air on ESPN+. Check back to ValpoAthletics.com or follow @ValpoBaseball on Twitter for any weather-related schedule changes.