The Valparaiso University baseball team started its weekend in Norman, Okla. by upstaging the host Oklahoma Sooners, a Big 12 team that received 46 votes in the USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll. The Crusaders dominated from the outset, scoring three in the first and six in the second on the way to the 11-4 victory. Starting pitcher Trey Ferketic (Laguna Niguel, Calif. / JSerra [UC San Diego]) twirled a gem to capture his first win in a Valpo uniform.
How It Happened
- The day started favorably for the Crusaders, as Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) led off by pulling a home run down the right-field line against Oklahoma starting pitcher Lane Ramsey.
- Valpo (1-3) continued to pour it on in the first inning of the weekend, as senior Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) came through with a two-out single up the middle, driving in Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) and Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) to make it a three-run frame.
- Ramsey didn’t make it out of the second inning, as the Crusaders started the inning with six straight base runners. The only out he got in the second frame came on a sacrifice bunt before he was yanked after only 1 1/3 innings.
- Dawson was in on the act again, as his run-scoring single to shortstop accounted for Valpo’s first run of the second, then Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) scored on a wild pitch. Billinger ripped a single up the middle to plate Dawson, the final run before the pitching change.
- The offensive explosion continued against the Sooners’ bullpen as a walk and a bases-loaded hit by pitch started the outing for reliever Brett Lorah. The hit batter was Jacob, who earned an RBI.
- Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) added a sacrifice fly, Eggimann drove in a run with an infield single and by the time the top of the second was said and done, the Crusaders owned a commanding 9-0 lead.
- Zack Leone (Pelham Manor, N.Y. / Fordham Prep [Susquehanna]) notched a run-scoring single in the third, expanding the Valpo advantage to 10-0.
- Ferketic left after five dazzling innings. He yielded just one hit and no runs while pitching to contact, inducing eight fly outs and five groundouts.
- The Sooners (2-4) got on the board against the Valpo bullpen in the sixth, plating two against Michael Mommersteeg (St. Thomas, Ont., Canada / St. Joseph’s). The Valpo southpaw allowed four runs on six hits over four innings, but he did enough to nail down his first save.
- Shaikin drilled a solo homer in the top of the seventh to account for Valpo’s 11th and final run of the game.
Inside the Game
- The Sooners received 46 votes in the USA Today Preseason Baseball Coaches Poll. That was the third most among teams not ranked in the Top 25, essentially making Oklahoma the 28th ranked team in the nation, per the Coaches Poll.
- Oklahoma plays in the Big 12 Conference, which was ranked first nationally in Conference RPI last season. The Sooners finished last season 29th in RPI after reaching the NCAA Regional. The Sooners beat No. 20 Indiana in their season opener last week.
- This marked the program’s first win against an active member of the Big 12 Conference.
- Dawson’s home run was the first of his Crusader career in his 332nd career at-bat. Valpo had one home run to lead off a game last season – James Stea on May 13 at Milwaukee.
- Jacob’s three RBIs marked a career high.
- Shaikin’s home run was his first of the season and the fifth of his Crusader career. He had a career-high four runs scored and enjoyed the fifth three-hit game of his career. Shaikin also had two walks, so he reached base five times in the game.
- The Crusaders have had 10+ hits in three of their first four games, the first time they’ve done that in over 12 years.
- Dawson, Shaikin and Billinger continued to form a formidable top three in the batting order. This already marked the second time this season (Saturday vs. Alabama) that all three had multiple hits in the same game.
The Crusaders will play Holy Cross on Saturday night in the second game of the day.