The Valparaiso University baseball team received a pair of quality starts on Sunday on its way to splitting a doubleheader with Missouri Valley Conference foe Evansville. Freshman Zach Fricke (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) earned his first career victory in the opener, pitching his team to a 6-2 win. Jarrett Hammel (Brook, Ind. / South Newton [Saint Joseph’s College]) was impressive in his first start of the season in Game 2, but he received no decision in an eventual 4-2 setback.
How It Happened – Game 1
- Fricke worked out of trouble in the top of the first when Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) made a great diving catch on a well-struck line drive, then doubled off a runner at second. That squashed a second-and-third, one-out jam.
- Valpo jumped in front in the bottom of the first as Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) clubbed a double to right center to drive in a pair. Later in the frame, Damon Jorgensen (Blair, Neb. / Blair [Coffeysville]) stroked a single to up the lead to 3-0.
- Fricke sent down the side in order in both the second and third innings. The final out of the third came on a nice bare-handed play by shortstop Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth). It remained 3-0 Valpo until the fourth, when the Purple Aces scored twice on two hits and two walks to trim the lead to one. The damage could have been worse, but the potential tying run was cut down at the plate on an 8-3-2 fly ball double play.
- Valpo got those runs and more right back in the bottom of the fourth. Dawson roped a run-scoring double down the right-field line, then Billinger chased home a pair with a single to right. That opened the lead to 6-2.
- Evansville (21-19, 8-4) loaded the bases in the fifth, but Valpo turned an inning-ending twin killing. Fricke worked a 1-2-3 sixth, then departed with two outs and two on in the seventh with Valpo up 6-2. Montana Quigley (Lake Forest, Calif. / El Toro) came on and got a strike out to end the seventh, then put zeros on the board in the eighth and ninth innings to secure the victory.
Inside the Game – Game 1
- Fricke (1-3) went 6 2/3 innings and yielded two runs on four hits while walking five and striking out three. He earned his first career win. Since the tying run was in the on-deck circle when Quigley entered in the seventh, the right-hander was awarded his third save.
- Dawson collected three hits and scored twice, while Jorgenson picked up a pair of hits.
- Fricke set season highs for innings pitched (6 2/3) and pitches thrown (113) while allowing no extra-base hits.
- Jorgenson had his fifth multi-hit game of the season and his first in conference play.
- Quigley pitched more than two innings (2 1/3) for the first time this season. He has not allowed a run over any of his last four outings spanning 6 1/3 innings.
How It Happened – Game 2
- Fitzsimmons had his third first-inning RBI of the day to open game two with a sacrifice fly after three Valpo singles. That allowed Valpo to start the nightcap with a 1-0 lead.
- After allowing two-out singles but nothing else in each of the first two innings, Hammel sent down the side in order in the third. Evansville had a scoring chance with runners at first and third in the fourth, but the Valpo lefty wiggled out of it with nothing across.
- The fifth inning featured a great diving stop by Jorgenson at third that saved a run, causing Evansville to strand the potential tying tally at third for the second straight inning.
- Evansville got even in the sixth as Nate Reeder was safe at the plate on a close play on a Troy Beilsmith sac fly.
- Hammel left after six, and Evansville scored three against reliever Keegan Bates (Plainfield, Ill. / Plainfield North) in the seventh to grab a 4-1 lead.
- Valpo got one back in the bottom of the sixth on a Shaikin RBI single, but stranded men at the corners.
- Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) worked two clean frames to keep the deficit at two. Valpo didn’t score in the eighth or ninth as Michael Parks (6) saved it for Justin Hayden (2-1).
Inside the Game – Game 2
- Hammel yielded just one run on five hits while walking two and striking out one over six innings. He received no decision, while Bates (1-3) took the defeat. The six-inning start was the longest outing of Hammel’s career.
- Drudge and Dent had two hits apiece to pace Valpo. Drudge had two multi-hit games in this series after having none previously.
Valpo (9-29, 2-10) will return to action with a nonconference game on Tuesday at 3 p.m. at Chicago State.