The spring trip continued for the Valparaiso University baseball team on Tuesday as the program played its first midweek contest of the season in Greensboro, N.C. Host North Carolina A&T pulled away late for an 11-4 victory over Valpo.
How It Happened
- North Carolina A&T (7-5) scored runs against Valpo starting pitcher Michael Mommersteeg (St. Thomas, Ont., Canada / St. Joseph’s) in each of the first two frames. Camden Williamson ripped a double down the right-field line to drive in a run in the first, before Ryne Stanley’s RBI groundout doubled the lead in the second.
- Valpo (2-7) got on the board in the top of the third as a walk and an infield single set the stage for Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper), who cracked an RBI double to right center.
- The speed of senior Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect) helped the team tie the game in the fourth. Donohue reached base on a bunt single, stole second and then scampered across the dish on a single by senior Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean), tying the game at two.
- The Aggies went back on top in the bottom of the fourth as Dustin Baber delivered a run-scoring double. However, Valpo got back to even in the top of the sixth when Sunday’s hero Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) singled to left to knock in a run.
- Stanley drove in a run with a single in the bottom of the sixth to break the tie, then Williamson singled with the bases loaded, a hit that was compounded by an error on the same play and ultimately cleared the bases, giving North Carolina A&T a 7-3 edge.
- Each team had late-inning big flies as Dawnoven Smith homered for NC A&T in the seventh before Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) delivered a solo blast in the top of the eighth for Valpo.
- North Carolina A&T put the game away with three runs in the bottom of the eighth before nailing down the final three outs of an 11-4 win.
Inside the Game
- Mommersteeg allowed three runs on four hits in four innings, while Hammel (0-3) took the loss in relief after giving up two runs on two hits in his inning of work.
- Tanner Skidmore (Timberville, Va. / Broadway [Potomac State]) had Valpo’s best pitching performance of the day, working a flawless inning with one strikeout. Freshman lefty Keegan Bates (Plainfield, Ill. / Plainfield North) also put a zero on the board by working around two walks and striking out two in his frame.
- Billinger’s home run was his third of the year and lifted his team-leading RBI total to nine.
- The Fitzsimmons double represented his first extra-base knock of the season. It was his second career double and first since 2017.
- Shaikin, Donohue and Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) had two hits apiece. Dent reached base three times, as did Billinger, who drew two walks.
Valpo’s spring break trip will enter its next leg as the team heads to South Carolina to take on the No. 24 Gamecocks, a member of the SEC and one of the nation’s elite baseball programs. The first game of the series is slated for Friday at 6 p.m. CT. Links to live coverage will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.