EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The visiting Valparaiso University baseball team scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning on Friday night to snap a 1-1 tie, and the Beacons never looked back, as Valparaiso took the Missouri Valley Conference series-opener from the University of Evansville Purple Aces, 6-1, at German American Bank Field at Charles H. Braun Stadium in Evansville.

Evansville jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning on a single by graduate outfielder Eric Roberts and an RBI double by fifth-year first baseman Chase Hug.  But, UE would not put another runner into scoring position until the eighth inning, and by that point, Valparaiso had a 3-1 lead.

The Beacons tied the game at 1-1 in the second inning without the use of a base hit, as Valpo took advantage of uncharacteristic wildness from UE starter Nick Smith.  Smith issued two walks and a hit batter in the inning.  He entered the night with just seven walks in 33.2 innings of work on the season.

The game would remain tied at 1-1 though until the sixth inning, when Valparaiso scored two runs off UE reliever Shane Harris (2-2).  After a one-out walk and single put two Beacons on base, catcher Kade Reinertson doubled down the right-field line to give the Beacons a 2-1 lead.  Then, third baseman Alex Thurston followed with a perfectly-executed suicide squeeze bunt to move the lead to 3-1.

UE would put two men on in the eighth inning on a pair of walks, but reliever Grant Jablonski got a ground out by UE junior shortstop Simon Scherry to get out of the jam.  Then, after Valparaiso added to the lead with back-to-back home runs by second baseman Nolan Tucker and outfielder Kyle Schmack in the top of the ninth inning, Jablonski struck out the side in order to earn his first save of the year and make a winner out of Valpo starter Griffin McCluskey (2-4).  McCluskey was dominant, holding Evansville to just the first-inning run on four base hits, while striking out six.  He did not allow a runner past first base after the first inning in 7.1 innings of work.

With the victory, Valparaiso improves to 10-12 overall and 2-5 in the MVC.  Evansville, meanwhile, falls to 17-12 overall and 3-4 in the MVC.  The two teams will continue the series on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.  UE LHP Tyler Denu (2-1, 4.22 ERA) is expected to be opposed by Valparaiso RHP Nathan Chasey (0-0, 1.90 ERA).  Saturday’s game can be heard live in the Tri-State area on 107.1 FM-WJPS and the Old National Bank/Purple Aces Sports Network from Learfield.