VALPARAISO, Ind. — Valparaiso's baseball program rode a complete game by freshman Zach Fricke to earn a 7-1 win over Southern Illinois and clinch the series. Fricke allowed just four hits and one run on Nikola Vasic's sixth inning solo homer.
"We played better, but we couldn't string anything together offensively," SIU head coach Ken Henderson said. "Ian Walters smoked two balls that got caught up in the wind, and we took some good swings, but we couldn't piece it together."
Valparaiso (12-32, 5-12 MVC) got a first-inning run on an RBI by Steven Fitzsimmons, but SIU starter Blake Begnergot out of a bases loaded jam to limit the damage. Valpo added a run in the third on a Chase Dawson solo homer, and the Crusaders opened up the game with a three-run fifth inning.
SIU (22-24, 4-13 MVC) got its first hit in the fifth inning on a Grey Epps single, and Vasic homered in the sixth inning to get SIU within 5-1. But Valpo added two more runs in the seventh to set the final score, 7-1.
Valparaiso turned three double plays, starting with a sensational diving play by right fielder Jeremy Drudge in right center in the first inning that robbed Ian Walters of an RBI double. Walters crushed another ball to the 385-foot alley in right center in the eighth inning, but it hung up the breeze blowing in.
Will LaRue reached base in three of his four plate appearances, going 1-for-2 with two walks. Vasic went 1-for-3 with a walk, and J.T. Weber extended his reached base streak to eight games. Henry Boeckmann pitched a scoreless eighth inning for the Salukis.