Freshman starting pitcher Colin Fields (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) had the best performance of his young career and got better as the game went on, propelling the Valparaiso University baseball team to a 5-2 victory over Northern Illinois on Sunday afternoon at Chicago State. Eight quality innings from Fields helped Valpo take the rubber match of the three-game weekend series.
How It Happened
- Valpo (4-12) jumped on the board in a second inning that included hits by Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect) and Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]). The run crossed the dish on an NIU wild pitch.
- The first pitch of the bottom of the second tied the game as Dylan Lonteen ripped a home run. The Huskies (4-15) added another tally later in that inning to take a 2-1 lead.
- Neither team scored again until the sixth, when Valpo grabbed the lead by putting a crooked number on the board. Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) cracked his second double of the day, stole third and then boogied home on a wild pitch to tie the game at two. Later in the inning, Billinger stroked a payoff pitch into center for a go-ahead single to drive in two, giving Valpo a 4-2 edge.
- After allowing a single to Paddy McKermitt in the second inning, Fields locked down. He retired 17 of the next 18 batters and the only one that reached may have been retired if it weren’t for an errant throw. The Huskies finally snapped a streak of 13 straight sent down by Fields via a dropped third strike in the bottom of the eighth.
- A bloop single by Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville) drove in Billinger in the top of the eighth, allowing Valpo to tack on a run and expand the lead to 5-2.
- When Fields was lifted after eight quality innings, Montana Quigley (Lake Forest, Calif. / El Toro) came on and got the final three outs to nail down his second save.
Inside the Game
- Four Valpo players had multi-hit games – Dent, Billinger, Barczi and Donohue. Barczi had a career-high three RBIs, while Dent’s multi-hit day was his team-leading seventh of the season.
- Dent became the first Valpo player this season with a two-double game.
- Fields, a freshman making his fourth career start, had by far his best showing thus far. He hadn’t made it through the fifth inning in any of his previous three starts. He struck out a career-high nine, allowed two runs on just four hits and walked none. After issuing 11 walks in 7 2/3 innings over his first two starts, Fields (1-1) has walked one over 12 2/3 innings in his last two starts. The victory was the first of his collegiate career.
Next on the docket for Valpo is a three-game weekend series against Butler that is slated to occur at Emory G. Bauer Field. The series opener is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.