The Valparaiso University baseball team held its own early but DBU pulled away late for a 10-5 victory in the 2019 Missouri Valley Conference opener on Friday night at beautiful Horner Ballpark in Dallas. Senior Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) cracked his team-leading fifth home run of the season as part of his three-hit performance to pace Valpo.
How It Happened
- For the third consecutive game, Valpo jumped ahead with a run in the top of the first inning. Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) lashed a two-out double to right and moved to third on an E-7, then he made his way home as Billinger laced a two-out single to left.
- Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) got his day off to a strong start, inducing three fly ball outs in the first inning to send the Patriots down in order.
- DBU (19-6, 1-0) took the lead with a four-run second including a two-run homer by Luke Bandy and a run-scoring double by Blayne Jones.
- Valpo got one back in the top of the third as Brent Jones (Ankeny, Iowa / Ankeny Centennial [Iowa Central]) made DBU pay for back-to-back two-out walks by yanking an RBI single to make it 4-2.
- DBU got one in the bottom of the third as Jackson Glenn led off with a double and made his way around to score. That expanded the lead to 5-2.
- After Tieman mowed down the side in order in a quick bottom of the fourth, Billinger led off the fifth with a long home run to left to make it a 5-3 game.
- Valpo again moved a step closer with a run in the seventh as Shaikin led off with a walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Valpo had the potential tying run at third with no outs but couldn’t draw even, as the game reached the seventh inning stretch with DBU clinging to a 5-4 edge.
- Tieman put together a dominant stretch that started during the third inning and didn’t end until the bottom of the seventh. During that span, he sent down 11 straight and retired a quality DBU lineup in order in three straight innings.
- Blayne Jones snapped Tieman’s roll by doubling to lead off the seventh before he crossed the dish on a Luke Bandy sac fly that made it 6-4. A moment later another run scored on a double by Herbert Iser, spelling the end of the day for Tieman.
- DBU tacked on three runs in the eighth inning to expand the lead to 10-4.
- Billinger completed a big day at the dish by doubling to the gap in right-center with two outs in the top of the ninth, driving in a run to make it 10-5, which stood as the final score.
Inside the Game
- Kapers hustled to second for his second-inning double after the ball bounced out of the glove of a diving DBU left-fielder. That two-bagger was the first extra-base hit of the freshman’s collegiate career.
- Billinger’s three RBIs allowed him to usurp Shaikin for the team lead as he now has 18.
- Jones’ RBI single in the third helped him become the fourth Valpo player to reach double figures in RBIs this season, joining Billinger, Dawson and Shaikin.
- Billinger’s blast was his team-leading fifth of the season. He became the third player in the Missouri Valley Conference to hit his fifth home run of the season, joining Bryce Ball of DBU and Logan Geha of Missouri State. In addition, the Billinger home run was the 12th of his Valpo career in just his second season on campus.
- Billinger finished a triple shy of the cycle, cracked his sixth double of the season and had his third three-hit game.
- Dawson’s two runs scored allowed him to extend his team lead in that area as he now has 17.
- Jones and Dawson had two hits apiece, while Billinger’s three led the way.
- Tieman (1-4) took the defeat after being charged with seven runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. He issued no walks and struck out two in an outing that was better than his line would indicate.
- Fitzsimmons ripped his fourth double of the season and is second on the team behind only Billinger in that category.
- Valpo racked up 10 hits and was outhit by the slim margin of two at 12-10.
Valpo (5-17, 0-1 MVC) will be back in action on Saturday afternoon for the middle game of this weekend’s three-game series at DBU. Colin Fields is slated to take the mound for a 2 p.m. start. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.