The Valparaiso University baseball team lost both games of a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field, falling to Murray State 14-3 in the opener and 14-5 in the nightcap. The Beacons did crank three home runs highlighted by a Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) grand slam.
How It Happened – Game 1
- Murray State scored three times in the top of the second of the opening game to take a 3-0 lead. The inning included a home run by Taylor Howell.
- Valpo starting pitcher Griffin McCluskey (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) settled in and did not allow another run until the fifth, when an unearned tally helped the Racers expand the lead to 4-0.
- Murray State broke it wide open against the Valpo bullpen in the top of the sixth, scoring six times including Howell’s second home run of the game, this time a three-run job.
- Back-to-back jacks helped Valpo get on the board in the sixth as Matt Olive (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) and Spencer Warfield (Fullerton, Calif. / Servite) both went yard.
- Murray State scored two in the top of the eighth to make it 12-2, but a run-scoring single by Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) in the bottom of the inning helped the Beacons dodge the 10-run rule and stay alive.
- The guests got two more in the top of the ninth to account for the final margin.
Inside the Game – Game 1
- Hannahs and Olive had two hits apiece to lead the team.
- Olive connected on his second home run of the season and the fourth of his collegiate career.
- Warfield’s big fly was the second of his career, both this season.
- McCluskey’s final line featured 4 1/3 innings in which he struck out seven while walking three, permitting six hits and yielding four runs (three earned).
- The Beacons committed a season-high three errors.
How It Happened – Game 2
- Murray State jumped in front on a three-run homer by Brennan McCullough in the top of the first.
- The Racers added two more in the third, before Valpo got on the board when a Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) bouncer drove in a run in the bottom of that inning to make it 5-1.
- A bases-clearing triple by Dustin Mercer in the fourth expanded the Murray State lead to 8-1.
- Valpo got back in the game on one swing of the bat from Maka in the bottom of that inning, as he made the Racers pay for two walks and a hit batter with a grand slam to dead center to cut the lead to three at 8-5.
- Murray State got those four runs right back in the top of the sixth, when all four tallies were unearned.
- Neither team scored again until the ninth, when a two-run double for Murray State accounted for the game’s final margin.
Inside the Game – Game 2
- Pitcher Jonathan Hyman (Bellbrook, Ohio / Bellbrook [Paradise Valley / IMG]) tossed the ninth inning, making his Valpo debut.
- Redshirt sophomore Josh Cottrill (Pewaukee, Wis. / Pewaukee) twirled two scoreless innings out of the bullpen. Of the seven Valpo men who took the mound on Sunday, Cottrill was the only one who was not charged with a run.
- The Beacons committed four errors, surpassing their season high from the first game and finishing the day with seven miscues. Prior to Sunday, Valpo had made multiple errors in a game just twice over the season’s first 18 contests and never more than two in a single game.
- Tucker recorded three hits in Game 2, his fourth game with three hits or more this season.
- Hannahs also had a multi-hit output, his sixth of the year.
- Renfro reached base safely in both games on Sunday, extending his on-base streak to 20. This marks Valpo’s first 20-game on-base streak since Hannahs in 2021. If Renfro reaches on Monday, he will own Valpo’s longest on-base streak since Sam Shaikin’s 23 gamer in 2017.
- Maka’s grand slam was the second by a Beacon this year, joining Renfro’s on March 10 at No. 22 Southern Miss. Renfro’s slam was the first by a Valpo player since March 3, 2019 (Sam Shaikin at UNCW).
- The home run was the eighth of Maka’s career and his third this season.
Valpo (8-12, 0-5 MVC) and Murray State will close the series on Monday at 11 a.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field. There will be no video streaming coverage of this game but a link to live stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.