It’s hard to know where to begin with this one, but Jake Skrine (Longmont, Colo. / Mead [Indiana]) is as good of a place as any.
The Valparaiso University baseball catcher batted .636 with three home runs, nine RBIs and caught a pair of runners trying to steal to lead the way in this weekend’s three-game road sweep of Bradley. Valpo outlasted the Braves 12-8 in Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader at Dozer Park in Peoria before dominating the nightcap 10-0, invoking the 10-run rule after seven innings to complete a memorable day for Valpo baseball. Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central [Kankakee]) twirled a three-hit shutout in Game 2 to help Valpo to its first road league series sweep and its largest margin of victory in conference play since joining The Valley.
How It Happened – Game 1
- The top of the first started with three free bases for the Beacons thanks to an error, a hit batter and a walk. Skrine ripped a single off the right-field wall to plate the game’s first run. That was followed by a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest), a sacrifice fly by Spencer Warfield (Fullerton, Calif. / Servite) and a run-scoring double for Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) to make it 4-0.
- That spelled the end of the day for the Bradley starting pitcher, but Valpo was still not done in the opening inning. A two-out hit by Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) plated a pair to make it a half a dozen in the opening frame.
- After Nathan Chasey (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indiana Hills CC]) used a double play and a strikeout to face the minimum in the bottom of the first, Skrine picked up his second RBI of the day with a missile of a home run, his second long ball of the series. That made it 7-0.
- The lead reached eight in the fourth when Skrine notched his third RBI in as many plate appearances, this time on a one-out single that expanded the gap to 8-0.
- Chasey notched all three outs via the strikeout in a scoreless second, then induced a twin killing to face the minimum in the third. Bradley made its way onto the scoreboard in the fourth thanks to a double followed by a home run to make it 8-2.
- Bradley continued to cut into the lead by pushing across two more in the fifth to make it 8-4.
- The Beacons responded with two in the sixth without the benefit of a hit. Brady Renfro grounded out to score one and Skrine lifted a sac fly for his fourth RBI of the game. Both runners who crossed the dish had reached via walks. Those tallies expanded the lead to 10-4.
- A two-run homer by Bradley in the bottom of the sixth made it a 10-6 game. Josh Cottrill (Pewaukee, Wis. / Pewaukee) entered in relief of Chasey in the seventh and put up a zero by inducing an inning-ending double play.
- The top of the eighth started with a solo shot to left by Ryan to make it 11-6, and later in the inning Skrine continued to pile up the RBIs with a run-scoring single to left to make it 12-6.
- A two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth cut the lead to four, then Cottrill posted a zero in the final frame to preserve the triumph.
Inside the Game – Game 1
- Skrine had a huge game, going 4-for-4 with five RBIs and a pair of runs scored. He drove in a run in all five of his plate appearances.
- The four-hit game was the first by a Beacon since Nolan Tucker on Feb. 26 of this season at UT Martin.
- Skrine’s five-RBI game marked the first by a Valpo player since Riley Dent batted in six on May 1, 2021 vs. Illinois State.
- Skrine’s home run was his fourth of the season.
- Ryan collected two hits and drove in three. His home run was the third of his career and second this season.
- Chasey earned the win, his first of the season and the third of his collegiate career. He allowed six runs on six hits while walking four and striking out eight in six innings.
- Cottrill allowed two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out one in three innings. He garnered the save due to the three-inning save rule, the first of his career.
- Valpo produced 12 runs, its second-highest run total of the season and highest since 17 on Feb. 26 at UT Martin.
How It Happened – Game 2
- Valpo loaded the bases in the opening inning, but Bradley escaped with back-to-back strikeouts.
- The Beacons struck first in the second by manufacturing a run with a walk, single, sac bunt and sac fly by Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central).
- Valpo loaded the bases with one out in the third, but once again left them loaded with nothing across.
- The Beacons stranded the bases full for the third time in the first four innings in the fourth, but not before they eked out a run on a Tucker RBI single.
- The sixth inning started modestly with two outs and nobody on base, but after a walk to Renfro extended the inning, Skrine continued to look like Babe Ruth in this series by drilling yet another no-doubt home run to balloon the lead to 4-0.
- Thurston spanked a double to drive in the third run of the sixth inning, but a Bradley relay throw cut down another runner trying to score on the play to end the inning with Valpo in front 5-0.
- Valpo continued to pour it on in the top of the seventh. A Tucker double plated one, another scored on a passed ball and a third on a ground ball to first. The final blow came off the bat of Maka, who cranked a two-run homer to left to make it 10-0.
- All of the offense came in the visiting half of each inning in Saturday’s second game. Nowak sent down seven straight spanning the first through third innings, then a leadoff single was quickly erased by a double play in the fourth. Another double play negated a walk in the fifth, and then the righty faced only four batters in each of the final two innings.
Inside the Game – Game 2
- Skrine homered for the third straight game, increasing his season total to five.
- Skrine was 6-for-7 with two home runs, four runs scored and seven RBIs in the doubleheader.
- Maka delivered his fourth home run of the season and the ninth of his collegiate career.
- Nowak pitched the first shutout by a Valpo hurler since March 12, 2021, the Colin Fields no-hitter at Middle Tennessee. He improved his record to 4-0 thanks to the three-hitter while walking three and striking out six.
- The last Valpo player to throw a three-hitter was Dalton Lundeen on May 1, 2015 vs. Milwaukee. The only member of the program to allow three hits or fewer in a complete game since then was Fields during the no-hitter.
- Nowak’s effort was Valpo’s first complete game since Trent Turzenski on Feb. 25, 2022 at Alabama A&M.
- This marked Valpo’s first shutout of the season and first since March 25, 2022 vs. St. Bonaventure, a game decided by the identical score of 10-0.
- Valpo swept a conference series for the first time since taking all three from Southern Illinois on May 10-12, 2019 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
- Valpo picked up its first road sweep of a league series since joining the Missouri Valley Conference. Valpo’s last sweep of a road conference series of three games or more was March 18-20, 2016 at Northern Kentucky.
- The 10-0 triumph marked Valpo’s most lopsided league victory since joining the Missouri Valley Conference. This was the first time the Beacons invoked the 10-run rule since joining the league.
- Valpo outhit Bradley 12-3 with four Beacons enjoying multi-hit outputs. Maka led the way with a three-hit game.
- The Valpo defense turned six double plays on the day – three in each game.
Valpo (14-14, 5-7 MVC) will visit Notre Dame on Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on ACC Network Extra with links to live video and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.