Senior Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) moved into a tie for the team lead with his seventh homer of the season and junior Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) extended his Missouri Valley Conference lead in doubles, but the Valparaiso University baseball team was handed another close loss to first-place Missouri State on Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. Drew Millas clubbed a three-run homer in the fifth inning to help the Bears to an eventual 6-4 victory.
How It Happened
- Two of the first three Missouri State batters doubled in the top of the first, setting up Jack Duffy for a two-out single down the left-field line that plated a pair.
- After starting pitcher Trey Ferketic (Laguna Niguel, Calif. / JSerra [UC San Diego]) settled in to work a 1-2-3 second, Valpo provided him with a run of support in the bottom of the inning. Chad Jacob (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) spanked a double down the left-field line, then scooted across the dish when Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mt. Carmel) stroked a single to right center. That shrunk Missouri State’s edge to 2-1.
- Neither team scored again until Millas delivered the biggest swing of the game in the fifth, ripping a three-run homer down the right-field line, expanding the Missouri State lead to 5-1.
- Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect) ended a stretch of eight straight Crusaders sent down by Missouri State starter Luke Wiley when he worked a walk to lead off the fifth. Donohue eventually came around to score Valpo’s second run of the day on a Billinger two-bagger.
- Missouri State (29-14, 12-2) opened the lead to 6-2 with a run in the top of the eighth before Garbella whittled the deficit in half with a two-run blow to straight-away center field in the bottom of the inning. Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) was along for the ride on the Garbella blast after singling earlier in the inning.
- The Crusaders (15-26, 5-9) were unable to get the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, as Connor Sechler sent down the side in order.
Inside the Game
- Wiley picked up the win to go to 6-4 after yielding two runs on five hits while striking out seven over seven innings. Ferketic (4-4) was on the other end of the decision after allowing five runs on seven hits in five frames.
- The Crusaders used three lefties out of the bullpen, two of which had scoreless outings. Jarrett Hammel (Brook, Ind. / South Newton [Saint Joseph’s College]) put up a pair of zeros and did not allow a hit, while Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich. / Lakeview) retired the side in order in his only frame.
- Billinger’s double was his 21st of the season, moving him within two of tying the single-season program record of 23 set by Kyle Muhlsteff in 2010.
- Billinger had his team-leading 20th multiple-hit game of the season. His RBI was his 36th of the season, also a team high. Billinger’s .431 batting average in conference play far and away leads the team.
- Garbella’s home run was his seventh of the season, moving him into a tie with Shaikin for the team lead. The senior right fielder now has 14 home runs in his Crusader career.
- Jacob extended his hitting streak to seven and has reached safely in 11 straight.
The Crusaders and Bears will round out the three-game series on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. Stay tuned to ValpoAthletics.com and @ValpoBaseball on Twitter for any game time changes due to weather. Wes Gordon will get the ball from head coach Brian Schmack. The game will be broadcast on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with Ben Ariano and Spencer Krock on the call. Links to live audio (TuneIn Radio) and stats (StatBroadcast) are available.