April 23, 2024123456789RHE
Northern Illinois00030132110150
Win: BRACHBILL (4-5) 1.010001
Loss: Seiber (1-2) 0.211120
Denty (VALPO) 613100
Giusti (VALPO) 513000
ERATO (NIU) 423010
COHN (NIU) 513201
NIU Walks Off with Win in High-Scoring Midweek Matchup
Tuesday, April 23, 2024
NIU Walks Off with Win in High-Scoring Midweek Matchup
Bryce Konitzer started and went three scoreless innings on Tuesday.

A low-scoring game early evolved into a slugfest in the late innings on a windy Tuesday afternoon in DeKalb, Ill. The Valparaiso University baseball team and Northern Illinois combined for 13 runs in the seventh and eighth innings alone in a game where the squads combined for 19 runs on 28 hits in total. On a day where it felt like the last at-bats may be significant, that proved to be the case as Northern Illinois won 10-9 on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.

How It Happened

  • Neither team scored over the game’s first three innings with Bryce Konitzer (Mukwonago, Wis. / Mukwonago [Oakland]) putting together another strong start for the Beacons. He permitted just one hit over three scoreless frames while walking none and striking out four.
  • The Huskies greeted the Valpo bullpen with each of the first four official at-bats resulting in base hits including two for extra bases. That led to a three-run third.
  • Valpo got on the board in the top of the fifth when Liam Patton (Barrington, Ill. / Warsaw [Wabash]) crossed the plate with two down as Brady Renfro (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) dumped a single into right.
  • NIU added one in the bottom of the sixth to make it 4-1, but it could have been worse as Griffin McCluskey (Normal, Il. / Normal Community) prevented further damage by wiggling out of a bases-loaded, one-out spot.
  • Valpo rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh to take a 5-4 lead. Connor Giusti, Alex Thurston (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) and Kevin Denty (Tinley Park, Ill. / Marian Catholic) started the inning with a string of singles. Renfro walked to force in a run, then Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) was nailed with a pitch to make it 4-3. A sac fly by Carson Husmann (Hanna, Ind. / South Central [Bradley]) tied the game, then an infield single by Alex Ryan (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) gave Valpo its first lead of the game at 5-4.
  • NIU regained the lead in the bottom of the seventh on a three-run homer by Colin Summerhill.
  • The seesaw affair continued in the eighth when an RBI triple by Denty followed by a base knock by Renfro tied the game at seven, then Schmack unloaded a two-run jack to make it 9-7.
  • Northern Illinois tied the game with two in the eighth including a solo homer.
  • Cooper Cohn hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.

Inside the Game

  • Schmack’s home run was his 13th home run of the season and the 31st of his collegiate career. His 13 home runs mark the most by a Valpo player in a single season since Dan Schrum in 2002. He climbed into a tie for fourth in single-season program history, joining Mark Pedersen (2001) and Dan Schrum (2002).
  • Denty and Guisti both made the most of their opportunities in the lineup, as each man had three hits. Denty was a home run shy of the cycle and had his first collegiate triple, the team’s fourth of the season.
  • Although NIU did get two late walks, the first four Valpo pitchers did not issue any free passes and control was a bright spot for most of the day.
  • To illustrate the back-and-forth nature of the game, seven different pitchers (four Northern Illinois, three Valpo) were at one point in line for either a win or a loss and all ended up with no decisions.
  • This was Valpo’s ninth one-run game of the year and they fell to 3-6 in such contests.
  • Valpo head coach Brian Schmack pitched collegiately at Northern Illinois from 1992-1995 before going on to a professional career that included time in the big leagues with the Detroit Tigers in 2003.
  • Valpo played a three-game set with NIU that was held at Chicago State in 2019, but this marked the team’s first visit to DeKalb since 2018.

Up Next

Valpo (12-26) will visit UIC for a three-game weekend series in Chicago starting on Friday at 6 p.m. The games this weekend will be broadcast on ESPN+.