After winning a suspenseful, 14-inning game on Friday night, the Valparaiso University baseball team kept the drama to a minimum by rolling to a 7-1 victory over Southern Illinois on an overcast and rainy Saturday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. Freshman starting pitcher Zach Fricke (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) dealt, going the distance to propel his team to victory.
How It Happened
- Valpo has made a habit out of a scoring in the opening inning throughout the season and that trend continued on Saturday thanks to a two-out double to right center by Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn. / Robbinsdale Cooper) that eluded a sliding right fielder and drove in a run.
- The lead doubled in the third thanks to Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) as he belted a solo home run to right field.
- The fifth inning started with a string of four straight Valpo hits producing three runs. Dawson smoked a single down the right-field line to score one, then Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) worked the other foul line with a double to left to chase home a pair and make it 5-0.
- While the Valpo offense was building up the cushion, Fricke was rolling on the bump. The rookie righty didn’t allow a hit until the fifth. The lone run against him came in the sixth on a leadoff homer by Nikola Vasic that made it 5-1.
- Fitzsimmons tacked on an RBI single in the seventh, then Brent Jones (Ankeny, Iowa / Ankeny Centennial [Iowa Central]) clubbed a run-scoring double to left center that made it 7-1.
- Fricke (3-3) finished what he started with a complete-game win. He scattered four hits while issuing five walks and striking out five.
Inside the Game
- Fricke’s complete game was the first of his Valpo career and the second by a Valpo player this season after Jon Tieman did it last week at Bradley. Tieman’s was an eight-inning complete game in a defeat, so Fricke turned in Valpo’s first complete game win and the team’s first nine-inning CG on the year.
- Fricke picked up his third straight win after starting the season with an 0-3 record. He garnered his first career win on April 28 vs. Evansville, starting a stretch of three straight victories. Over his last three starts against Evansville, Bradley and Southern Illinois, Fricke is 3-0 with a 2.14 ERA over 21 innings with opponents hitting just .214 against him.
- Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson) led the way at the dish with a 3-for-5 performance, while Dawson, Billinger and Fitzsimmons drove in two runs apiece and Dawson, Fitzsimmons and Jones had two-hit days.
- Dawson’s home run was his fourth of the season and second in the last three games. He is up to seven career big flies.
- Valpo has clinched the series with Sunday’s finale to spare. This marks Valpo’s second series victory of the season and first since grabbing two of three from Northern Illinois March 16-17.
- Valpo has back-to-back wins for the second time this year and the first since April 16 vs. Western Michigan and April 19 at SIU Edwardsville. The team will seek its first three-game winning streak of the year on Sunday.
- This was Valpo’s first Missouri Valley Conference series win of the season and first home series win in conference play since joining the MVC prior to last season. Valpo’s only other triumph in a Valley set was last season at Evansville.
- On Sunday, Valpo will attempt to nail down its first sweep of a three-game series since taking all three from Youngstown State on May 19-21, 2016 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
- The six-run margin of victory on Saturday was Valpo’s largest in a Valley game this season and second-largest since joining The Valley behind a 9-2 triumph over DBU on April 29, 2018 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Valpo (12-32, 5-12) and Southern Illinois (22-24, 4-13) will conclude the three-game set on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. Links to live audio and stats are available.