GARY | Maybe it was the nerves. Maybe it was the waiting. Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be for the Valparaiso University baseball team.
The Crusaders committed a season-high five errors and surrendered six unearned runs in a 7-2 loss to Purdue late Friday night in Valparaiso's first NCAA tournament game since 1968.
The start of the game was delayed more than three and a half hours after the Kentucky-Kent State opener lasted 21 innings at U.S. Steel Yard, the second-longest game in NCAA tournament history.
“We played hard, but we didn’t play particularly well tonight, and that is disappointing,” Valparaiso coach Tracy Woodson said. “We tell people that what makes us good is our pitching and defense, and we just didn’t make plays tonight.”
Valparaiso third baseman Elliott Martin committed three errors, bringing his season total to 24. Second baseman Tanner Vavra and starting pitcher Tyler Deetjen also committed costly errors that varied from booted balls to throws in the dirt to throws that weren’t close to first baseman John Loeffler.
“The errors are frustrating, but you can’t let that affect you,” Deetjen said. “We’ve had great defense all year, and we just needed to trust in that.”
The game, which ended at 12:47 a.m. Saturday, will go down in history for the Boilermakers as their first win in NCAA tournament history. Purdue lost both games in its only other tournament appearance in 1987. Starting pitcher Jon Haase threw seven strong innings, striking out six and walking just one in front of a strong defense that helped to strand 11 Valparaiso baserunners.
“It (the first win) won’t mean much if we don’t get out of (the regional),” Haase said. “We have a lot of weekend left.”
Griffith product Ryan Bridges had two hits for the Boilermakers (45-12), while Barrett Serratto delivered a go-ahead two-run double in the third inning that gave Purdue the lead for good after the Crusaders jumped out to a 1-0 lead.
“It wasn’t the cleanest of games, but after being at the ballpark for six hours, we’ll take a win anyway we can get it,” Purdue coach Doug Schreiber said. “That was an odd day for sure.”