The Valparaiso University baseball team suffered an 8-0 setback to Southern Illinois on Friday at Itchy Jones Stadium in Carbondale, Ill. as one rough inning hurt the Crusaders. Valpo yielded seven runs in a bottom of the fifth that changed the game’s complexion, while the Crusaders managed just five hits for the game.
How It Happened
- Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) led off the game with a triple, but the Crusaders (9-18, 2-4) couldn’t capitalize as three straight players went down on strikes to leave Dawson stranded at third.
- The Salukis (17-14, 4-2) also failed to cash in on a golden opportunity in the opening inning, as they had runners at second and third with one away before Nikola Vasic tested the arm of Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) on a fly ball to left and was gunned down trying to score for an inning-ending double play.
- Southern Illinois got on the board in the fifth on a bases-loaded walk by Grey Epps and a run-scoring single by Brad Hudson. That ended the day for starting pitcher Wes Gordon (Gurnee, Ill. / Warren [Lake County]), who left with two SIU runs in the bank and the bases loaded with no outs after holding the Salukis scoreless through the first four frames.
- The Salukis continued the prosperous fifth inning against Hayden Kissee (Cumberland, Ind. / Greenfield Central [Kaskaskia College] as Vasic lifted a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0. Connor Kopach ripped a two-run single to left to end Kissee’s day and make it 5-0.
- By the time an inning-ending double play finally took place, the Crusaders had used four pitchers in the inning and surrendered seven runs.
- Alex Dirienzo (Somerset, Pa. / Somerset [Akron]), the pitcher who induced the final two outs of the fifth, went 2 2/3 innings and allowed no runs on one hit and one walk. The Salukis added an insurance run on a Hudson single in the eighth before holding on for the shutout win.
Inside the Game
- Dawson’s triple was his fourth of the season, moving him into sole possession of the Missouri Valley Conference lead. He became the first Valpo player with four triples in a season since Andy Burns in 2013.
- SIU starter Bradley Harrison (4-1) went seven scoreless innings, striking out 11 while yielding just four hits and two walks.
- Gordon (0-4) was charged with five runs (four earned) on five hits and one walk in four innings.
- Billinger and Dawson accounted for all five Valpo hits, with Billinger recording his team-leading fourth three-hit game of the year. Billinger (14) and Dawson (12) rank first and second on the team in multi-hit games.
The Crusaders will be back in action on Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Emory G. Bauer Field as they welcome Milwaukee for a midweek contest. The Crusaders and Panthers will get together as nonconference foes after sharing conference affiliation in the Horizon League. The game will be broadcast on 95.1 FM Valparaiso and online via TuneIn Radio. Live stats will also be available.