The Valparaiso University baseball team dropped a back-and-forth affair at Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Dallas Baptist 9-8 in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday at Horner Ballpark in Dallas. The one-run contest came after the Patriots had also prevailed 8-4 in the opener. Fifth-year senior Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) had a career showing in Game 2, posting four hits including two doubles and a home run.
How It Happened – Game 1
- Valpo jumped in front with a first-inning run as Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper), Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) and Damon Jorgensen (Blair, Neb. / Blair [Coffeyville]) all notched base hits. Jorgensen’s single plated Schmack to account for the first run of the game. Valpo had a chance for more with men at second and third and one away, but DBU ace Dominic Hamel struck out back-to-back batters to end the inning.
- DBU took the lead with six runs in the bottom of the first.
- The Valpo bats went back to work in the top of the second, as the lower third of the batting order strung together three straight doubles. The third of those came courtesy of catcher Jake Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel), a two-bagger that plated a pair and cut the DBU lead to 6-3.
- Valpo scored a third second-inning run thanks to a Schmack sacrifice fly to make it 6-4, then reliever Griffin McCluskey (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) retired the side in order in the bottom of the second to keep the deficit at two.
- McCluskey worked 1-2-3 for the second straight frame in the third with help from the second diving catch of the day by Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) in right field.
- Two run-scoring singles in the fifth allowed the Patriots to expend their edge to four at 8-4. Nolan Lebamoff (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee CC]) was summoned from the bullpen with a runner at first and nobody out, and the righty retired all three men he faced to keep it 8-4, which proved to be the final score in the seven-inning contest.
How It Happened – Game 2
- DBU struck first in the nightcap, pushing across a pair of first-inning runs.
- The Valpo offense exploded in the top of the third, bouncing starting pitcher Ray Gaither from the game in an inning that featured five runs on seven hits including four doubles. Drudge, Kaleb Hannahs (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) and Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) all notched doubles that drove in runs, with Hannahs’ two-bagger plating a pair. Kapers put the finishing touches on the prosperous inning with a soft single up the middle that expanded the lead to 5-2.
- DBU’s Austin Bell hit a three-run home run to tie the game in the bottom of the third.
- Valpo responded with a long ball of its own in the top of the fourth as Dent smashed his third extra-base hit of the game – a go-ahead, solo shot to left center that put Valpo back in front 6-5.
- DBU homered to again tie the game in the fifth, but then Dent continued his tear at the plate with his fourth hit of the contest, a run-scoring single in the sixth that put Valpo back in front. Later in the inning, Drudge lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 8-6 in favor of the guests.
- The Patriots cracked their third homer of the game to move a step closer in the bottom of the sixth, then tied the score at eight with a seventh-inning run. A two-out single by Jackson Glenn in the bottom of the eighth put DBU up 9-8 and proved to be the difference in the game.
Inside the Games
- The nightcap was Valpo’s first game with five or more doubles since May 8, 2018 at Western Michigan.
- Schmack had hits in both games to boost his hitting streak to 11, this team’s longest such streak this season. The sophomore first baseman has matched Dent’s 2019 streak, Valpo’s longest over the last three seasons.
- Fitzsimmons upped his on-base streak to 17 by reaching in both games of the double dip. He owns Valpo’s longest on-base streak since Giovanni Garbella reached safely in 18 straight in 2018.
- Dent’s dinger marked his third of the season, moving him into a tie with Drudge for the team lead. He entered the series with three doubles this season and has doubled that total with three more in the first three games in Dallas, including two in Saturday’s nightcap to lift his team-high total to six.
- Dent enjoyed the first four-hit game by any Valpo player this season. The most recent four-hit output by a member of the Brown & Gold came on March 23, 2019, when Fitzsimmons notched four knocks vs. Butler. Dent’s four hits in Saturday’s second game also marked a career high for the fifth-year senior.
- Hannahs, Schmack and Fitzsimmons added two hits apiece in Game 2, helping Valpo outhit DBU 14-10. The 14 hits marked the team’s second-highest total this season behind 15 on March 20 at Western Kentucky.
- The one-run setback marked Valpo’s third loss by the slimmest of margins in 2021.
Valpo (5-15, 0-3) and DBU (17-7, 3-0) will close out the conference-opening series with a 1 p.m. matchup on Saturday at Horner Ballpark. Links to live video, audio and stats courtesy of DBU Athletics can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.