A rough start ended up being more than the University of Evansville baseball team could overcome, as they fell to Valparaiso 7-2 in Missouri Valley Conference, Friday night at Charles H. Braun Stadium.
Purple Aces sophomore starting pitcher Adam Lukas (1-3) got in trouble early as the Crusaders opened the game with a single, a walk and a hit batter to load up the bases with no one out. Then, right fielder GiovanniGarbella delivered a two-run double, putting Valparaiso on the board first. Catcher Scott Kapers would send a sacrifice fly to center, bringing in another tally, and the Crusaders were up 3-0 after one.
The Aces would respond in the bottom of the opening frame, as junior Matt Jones launched a one-out solo homer to left. Jones’ first round tripper of the season cut the deficit to 3-1.
However, the second inning would go no better for Lukas, as he gave up a leadoff single, then a one-out walk, putting two aboard for Giovanni Garbella, who delivered again, with a three-run home run to left-center. Lukas would escape without any more damage, as Valparaiso’s lead stayed at 6-1.
After a scoreless third frame, Lukas would get in trouble again in the fourth, loading up the bases with two outs, and would give way to senior right hand reliever Jimmy Ward. Crusaders third baseman Chad Jacob greeted Ward with a hot shot to first and legged out an infield single, allowing one run to tally. However, Blake Billinger would get greedy, and some heads up defense by Evansville first baseman Dalton Horstmeier would gun down Billinger, ending the inning, keeping it a 7-1 Valparaiso lead.
The Aces would attempt to rally in the fifth inning, as sophomore left fielder Troy Beilsmith would slug a one-out double to center. Horstmeier would follow that up with a bounder through the left side of the infield, allowing a hustling Beilsmith to score from second, drawing UE within five.
Evansville sophomore reliever David Ellis would take over for Ward in the seventh inning, and would close out the game, tossing three scoreless innings. However, Crusaders starting pitcher Jon Tieman (4-3) would not allow the Aces to get on the board again, pitching the first complete game of his college career, as Evansville fell, 7-2.
The loss drops the Aces to 6-25 on the season and 0-7 in the MVC, while Valparaiso improves to 13-19 and 3-4 in league play. Game two of the series is tomorrow back at Braun Stadium is at 2 p.m. The Purple Aces Club will hold a free cookout for fans at 1:30 pm, while new men’s basketball coach Walter McCarty will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.