For the second straight Sunday, starting pitcher Wes Gordon (Gurnee, Ill. / Warren [Lake Country]) gave the Valparaiso University baseball team a quality chance to win against a high-level opponent. This time, a strong effort on the mound wasn’t enough, as visiting Missouri State used a four-run eighth to beat Valpo 6-2 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
How It Happened
- Neither team scored for the first five innings, but the game was no conventional pitchers’ duel. Missouri State starter Matt Russell was lifted due to an injury after 2 2/3 scoreless innings, forcing the Bears (30-14, 13-2) to insert reliever Davis Schwab, who put up zeros in the fourth and fifth.
- In addition to Russell’s injury-related departure, a wacky bottom of the third saw two Crusaders reached base, but both were picked off.
- Gordon issued his only walk of the day with one away in the sixth, but the Bears made him pay for it, as Jordan Fitzpatrick yanked a two-run homer to right for the game’s first runs.
- Three singles to right field put the Crusaders (15-27, 5-10) in a bases-loaded, one-out spot in the bottom of the sixth. Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) worked a walk to force in a run, but Missouri State’s Jake Lochner fanned consecutive batters to end the threat without further damage.
- The bottom of the seventh followed a strangely similar script, as the Crusaders again loaded the bags, were again the beneficiaries of a bases-loaded walk and yet again stranded the bags full. This time it was Blake Lutgen (Strafford, Mo. / Strafford) working the RBI base on balls to tie the game at two.
- Gordon faced only one batter in the eighth, but it was that batter who eventually scored the go-ahead run and put the Valpo right-hander back on the hook for a tough-luck loss. Drew Millas doubled down the right-field line, and later scored when Fitzpatrick singled against Luke VanLanen (Pulaski, Wis. / Pulaski). The Bears were far from done in the eighth, as Jack Duffy jacked a three-run homer to right, widening the lead to 6-2.
- Valpo didn’t score over the final two innings, with Missouri State’s Friday starter Dylan Coleman bouncing back on one day of rest to get the final three outs.
Inside the Game
- Senior Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz. / Desert Ridge [Central Arizona / Grand Canyon]) was on base in all four plate appearances with a single, two walks and a hit by pitch. He scored both Valpo runs.
- Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) enjoyed his 17th multiple hit game of the season, while Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) posted his 14th.
- The Valpo offense produced seven hits, seven walks and two hit batters, but had only two runs to show for it. There were 10 Crusaders left on base, plus the aforementioned pick offs and three Missouri State double plays.
- Gordon (2-5) was hit with the defeat after being charged with three runs on six hits and one walk in seven quality innings, while Connor Sechler (5-1) appeared out of the Missouri State bullpen for the third consecutive day and achieved the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Crusaders will be back in action on Tuesday as they visit Western Michigan at 2 p.m. CT in Kalamazoo.