The Valparaiso University baseball team held an 8-3 lead as late as the sixth inning on Saturday afternoon at Braun Field in Evansville, but the Purple Aces roared from behind with three in the sixth and three more in the seventh to top the Crusaders 9-8. Valpo will play for its first Missouri Valley Conference series win in a rubber match on Sunday.
How It Happened
- The Crusaders (13-20, 3-5 MVC) jumped on the board first as Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) led off with a double to right center. After stealing third, Dawson trotted home as Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) smoked a double to left to account for the game’s first run.
- Trey Ferketic (Laguna Niguel, Calif. / JSerra [UC San Diego]) wiggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the first. He recorded back-to-back strikeouts to retire the side.
- Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) helped Valpo bounce the opposing starter early for the third straight game with a run-scoring single to shallow right in the second. That ended the day for Alex Weigand, who went 1+ inning and was charged with three earned runs on two walks and three hits.
- Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) lifted a sacrifice fly to center to plate another run, making it 3-0 Valpo through an inning and a half.
- A two-out, bases-clearing double by Nate Reeder in the third leveled the score at three. All three runners who came in to score on the two-bagger had reached base via free passes (2 HBP, 1 BB).
- Shaikin belted a three-run homer in the fourth to put the Crusaders back in front by a score of 6-3.
- Valpo enjoyed its second home run in as many innings in the fifth as Zack Leone (Pelham Manor, N.Y. / Fordham Prep [Susquehanna]) crushed a two-run blast.
- Ferketic’s stretch of eight straight sent down was disrupted by a Reeder triple with one away in the sixth. Craig Shepherd stroked a run-scoring single a moment later, trimming Valpo’s lead to 8-4.
- A two-run double by Troy Beilsmith closed the gap to 8-6 in the bottom of the sixth and forced Brian Schmack to go to the bullpen for the first time in the series.
- Evansville (7-25, 1-7) scored three more in the seventh to take a 9-8 lead that would stand for the game’s duration. A two-run double by Cooper Trinke was the go-ahead hit.
Inside the Game
- Valpo has scored in the first inning in four straight games. This marked the third straight start Ferketic’s offense provided him with a lead before he ever took the mound.
- Shaikin’s homer was his sixth of the season, allowing him to move back into a tie with Giovanni Garbella for the team lead. Shaikin is up to 10 career home runs, all coming in the last two seasons.
- Leone became the sixth Valpo player with three home runs or more this season.
- The Crusaders have had at least one home run in six straight games and multiple homers in four of those contests.
- Ferketic went 5 2/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits, three walks and two hit batters. He received no decision.
- Jarrett Hammel (2-2) was hit with the loss after 1/3 of an inning in which he was charged with three earned runs on two hits and a walk. Ryan Brady (2-3) worked 3 2/3 scoreless innings out of the Evansville bullpen and got the win, while Sunday’s probable starter Chase Burke nailed down the save with a scoreless ninth.
The Crusaders and Purple Aces will round out the series on Sunday. The first pitch is slated to occur at 1 p.m. CT at Braun Stadium and the game will once again be broadcast on The Valley ESPN3.