The Valparaiso University baseball team fell 7-1 to Missouri State on Tuesday in the first round of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament at Duffy Bass Field in Normal, Ill. That marked the final game of the 2019 season and the end of the careers of seven Valpo seniors.
How It Happened
- Missouri State (20-34) grabbed the lead in the bottom of the second as Ben Whetstone reached on a ball that would have been a routine pop fly if it weren’t for howling winds, then Brooke Zimmerman doubled to drive him in. Zimmerman scored the second run on a ground ball to short to make it 2-0 Bears.
- The Bears doubled the lead with two runs in the fifth on three hits and an error.
- Jeremy Drudge (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) got Valpo’s first base runner against Missouri State starter Logan Wiley with one out in the sixth. He eventually moved to second on a wild pitch, but was stranded there.
- Senior Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) grounded a single through the left side on a full-count pitch in the top of the seventh, breaking up Wiley’s no-hit bid. Fellow senior Blake Billinger (Los Gatos, Calif. / St. Francis [Mission]) banged a double to center later in the inning, allowing Shaikin to scamper home and put Valpo on the board.
- Three doubles allowed Missouri State to tack on two in the seventh and make it 6-1.
- Valpo (14-36) mounted a threat in the eighth by loading the bases with nobody out, but Wiley wiggled out of it unscathed. Missouri State added an insurance tally in the bottom of the eighth before holding on for the win.
- Valpo starting pitcher Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) pitched much better than his final line would indicate. He allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. Colin Fields (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) pitched well out of the bullpen, allowing just an unearned run in 1 1/3 innings while yielding two hits and a walk.
Inside the Season/Careers
- Valpo matched its MVC win total from last season despite competing in a conference that is ranked sixth nationally in RPI and is projected to send three teams to the NCAA Regionals.
- Senior Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) finished as one of Valpo’s all-time leaders in a variety of categories. He finished with 459 career assists, third in program history. He finished at 199 career hits, narrowly outside the all-time Top 10. Dawson scored 145 career runs, sixth in program history. He tied for second in career triples with 13.
- Another four-year starter was Shaikin, who finished tied for ninth in program history in career home runs with 21. He also finished in the Top 10 in assists with 392, which ranked fifth. Shaikin finished with 104 walks, third in program history.
- Shaikin, Dawson and Billinger were joined in this year’s senior class by Mike Kornacker (Lemont, Ill. / St. Laurence [Purdue]), Brent Jones (Ankeny, Iowa / Ankeny Centennial [Iowa Central]), Nick Leaverton (Mission Viejo, Calif. / Capistrano Valley) and Patrick Donohue (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Prospect).
- Valpo is expected to bring back 93 percent of its innings pitched and 12 of its 13 pitchers who saw action this season. The Top 8 ERAs are expected to return for 2020. The offense will have a new look as 61.6 percent of the team’s RBIs will depart via graduation.