The Valparaiso University baseball team snapped a 4-4 tie with a go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth to defeat UIC 5-4 on Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. The one-run win helped Valpo extend its Missouri Valley Conference winning streak to five and nail down its second straight series victory. Jake Skrine (Longmont, Colo. / Mead [Indiana]) and Matt Olive (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) both slugged home runs in the triumph. The game was played in less than ideal baseball weather as a wintry mix poured down at times throughout the contest and temperatures were in the low 40s.
How It Happened
- UIC jumped in front by scoring twice in the first, the second of which came on a solo home run by Breck Nowik.
- The Beacons tied the game with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the second, when Olive drilled a two-run shot, homering for the second consecutive game.
- Home runs remained a big factor in the game when Sean Dee went deep in the third to put the Flames back in front, but the Beacons got even yet again when Skrine launched one to straight away center field in the fourth, a solo shot that tied the score at four.
- The two teams exchanged sixth-inning runs with UIC poking a two-out single through the right side to take the lead in the top of the frame before Valpo answered back with Brady Nowicki’s (Big Bend, Wis. / Mukwonago [Indian Hills]) run-scoring single in the bottom of the inning.
- After starter Nathan Chasey (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indian Hills CC]) worked six innings of four-run, six-hit ball while walking three and striking out four, Valpo turned to Ryan Mintz (Lombard, Ill. / Willowbrook) in a tied game as the right-handed reliever was summoned to the bump to begin the seventh. He sent down the side in order in that frame before the first base runner against him was erased on a caught stealing in the eighth.
- Three singles including a bunt that stayed fair along the third-base line by Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) began the Valpo half of the eighth, packing the sacks and prompting a UIC pitching change. Nowicki notched his second RBI of the day with a go-ahead sac fly – a necessary run that came before the Flames extinguished the threat for additional damage. The hosts went into the final frame clinging to an edge by the slimmest of margins.
- Butterflies began to dance in the stomachs of Valpo fans in the top of the ninth when a leadoff double started the frame, but Mintz did his best Houdini act as that runner was eventually stranded at third. After a sac bunt moved the man up 90 feet, the Valpo righty notched a crucial strikeout before inducing a ground ball to short to wrap up the victory and reward the Beacon fans who withstood the elements by sending them home happy.
Inside the Game
- Olive, who entered this weekend having missed the previous six games with a hamstring injury, made sure he didn’t need to run at full speed around the bases for the second time in as many days by launching his second home run of the season. He lifted his season long ball total to four and his career accumulation to six.
- Skrine stayed red hot as well, as his dinger was No. 6 on the season, four of which have come in his last six games.
- Mintz earned his first win of the season and his second in a Valpo uniform after logging three scoreless innings of two-hit ball while issuing no walks.
- Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) spanked a double as part of a 3-for-3 day that also saw him draw a walk and cross the plate three times. Olive was 2-for-2 with two walks, while Thurston was 2-for-3 plus a base on balls.
- The season-long on-base streak by Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) came to an end as this marked the first time all season that the Valpo first baseman did not reach safely. This snapped a 30-game on-base streak, Valpo’s longest since Nolan Lodden reached in 34 straight in 2016.
- This represented Valpo’s seventh one-run game of the season with the Beacons upping their record to 5-2 in such contests.
Valpo (16-15, 7-7 MVC) and UIC will close out the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field. There is no video streaming of this series due to home softball, but links to live audio (UIC broadcast) and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.