April 19, 2024123456789101112RHE
Missouri State0000031100016111
Win: Seiber (1-1) 2.211101
Loss: Day (1-5) 1.212211
Bogenpohl (MOST) 512201
Sutherland (MOST) 602100
Chambers (MOST) 412100
Kelly (MOST) 212101
Lopez (MOST) 402010
Maka (VALPO) 522101
Renfro Delivers Walk-Off Blast as Beacons Beat Bears in Instant Classic
Friday, April 19, 2024
Renfro Delivers Walk-Off Blast as Beacons Beat Bears in Instant Classic

An incredible game got the incredible ending it deserved on Friday afternoon – or should we say, evening – at Emory G. Bauer Field.

Senior Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) is no stranger to the big moment as his grand slam in a road victory over No. 22 Southern Miss last season was one of the most memorable Valpo swings in the recent past. But perhaps the biggest moment of his career came in the bottom of the 12th inning on Friday with Valpo down to its final out as he jacked a 406-foot shot over the right-field fence to send the dugout and fans alike into a frenzy after a 7-6 victory over visiting Missouri State in an important game in the Missouri Valley Conference standings.

The victory represented Brian Schmack’s 200th as Valpo head coach as he became just the third skipper in program history to reach that milestone.  

How It Happened

  • Making his first start in a Valpo uniform, Bryce Konitzer (Mukwonago, Wis. / Mukwonago [Oakland]) went toe-to-toe with Missouri State ace and MVC Pitcher of the Year candidate Brandt Thompson in the early going. Neither hurler yielded a run until the fifth, when Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) ripped a 395-foot solo shot to make it 1-0 in favor of the hosts.
  • The Bears belted a home run and scored twice more in the sixth, with two of those runs being charged to Konitzer before his exit.
  • Missouri State extended the edge to 4-1 thanks to a wild pitch in the top of the seventh, but Valpo responded with two in the bottom of the inning. Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) stroked a run-scoring single, then a fielding error by Missouri State’s shortstop helped Valpo cut the deficit to one at 4-3.
  • The Bears picked up a single tally on a sac fly in the top of the eighth, but two Beacon bombs in a three-batter span in the bottom of the eighth inning altered the game’s complexion. Ryan Maka (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) and Liam Patton (Barrington, Ill. / Warsaw [Wabash]) both went yard to help Valpo get back to even at 5-5.
  • Another solid relief performance from Griffin McCluskey (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) played an important role as he yielded just one run on two hits over 2 2/3 innings. He gave way to Joe Seiber (Homer Glen, Ill. / Lockport [College of DuPage]), who picked up two big outs to escape a jam in the top of the 10th. Seiber then sent down the side in order in the 11th, but was touched for a single tally on a solo shot in the top of the 12th, allowing Missouri State to take a 6-5 lead.
  • After a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the inning, the next two Beacons were sent down, and the outlook appeared bleak. That’s when Renfro delivered, helping Valpo move into a tie with Missouri State in the MVC standings.

Inside the Game

  • Schmack became just the third head coach in program history to reach the 200-win milestone, joining Paul Twenge (378) and the legendary Emory G. Bauer (359).
  • Each of Valpo’s last two wins have come in walk-off fashion after a walk-off balk last Saturday vs. Belmont. This marked Valpo’s first walk-off home run since Jonathan Temple on April 23, 2021 vs. Southern Illinois. Coincidentally, that game also featured a final score of 7-6.
  • Valpo snapped a six-game skid in head-to-head matchups with Missouri State and improved to 2-19 all-time against the Bears. Both of Valpo’s wins over Missouri State have come in extra innings as the previous one was May 25, 2021 in an MVC Tournament elimination game. This marked Valpo’s first regular-season victory over Missouri State.
  • Renfro’s home run was the 18th of his collegiate career and his third this season.
  • Valpo hit four home runs in a game for the first time since Feb. 26, 2023 at UT Martin.
  • Ryan’s home run was his fifth of the season and the eighth of his collegiate career.
  • Maka’s long ball was his second this season and the 14th of his career.
  • Patton ripped his first home run in a Valpo uniform.
  • Half of Valpo’s hits were home runs as the Beacons prevailed despite being outhit 11-8 and outwalked 6-2.
  • Valpo played its eighth one-run game of the season and improved to 3-5 in such contests. Three of Valpo’s last four games have been decided by the slimmest of margins including back-to-back games that featured identical scores of 7-6.
  • Since the start of the 2023 season, Valpo is 6-0 in one-run games played at Emory G. Bauer Field.
  • Fifth-year senior Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) climbed into the top 10 in program history in career hits with his 205th, moving into a tie for 10th.
  • This marked Valpo’s longest game in terms of innings played since May 10, 2019, a 5-4, 14-inning win over Southern Illinois.

Up Next

Valpo (13-23, 4-9) will continue the series on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.