PORTAGE | Like most teams, the lousy April weather has greatly limited Valparaiso's quality of practice.
"I think we've spent more time in the gym than outdoors," Vikings coach Dave Coyle said.
Valpo made up for some lost hitting time in the seventh inning alone Wednesday, parading 12 batters to the box in an eight-run seventh that carried the Times No. 9 Vikings to a 13-2 Duneland Athletic Conference romp of No. 4 Portage.
"We've been struggling at the plate a little bit since our first two games," Coyle said. "Kids get so frustrated, they become too aggressive, trying to show what they can do. You hate to say it's still early. It's almost the end of April, but we've only played six games. Like anything else, it's confidence. Maybe we're coming around."
The Vikings (3-3, 1-2) banged out four doubles in the inning and CJ Gear launched a two-run home run, his second hit and third run scored. Stephen Simms' three hits included two two-baggers and Ethan Lehnen also doubled twice.
"The wheels all came off," Portage coach Tim Pirowski said. "We made them face the scoreboard. That's one of the more embarrassing losses we've had in a while. Hopefully, it'll be a good wake-up call we'll learn from and move on, and come to the game with a better approach."
Valpo lefty Drew Weston (2-0) tossed a two-hitter, allowing two unearned runs in the sixth.
"I'm mostly trying to keep them off balance, get ground balls, let my defense get the outs," Weston said. "I don't have a whole lot of speed so I have to focus on location. It's good to get a win. Hopefully we can get on a run."
He struck out two but only walked one, sidestepping four errors.
"Everything was out in front," Coyle said. "He did a super job with his location and control."
For Portage (10-3, 3-1), it was a case of its recent offensive struggles finally coming back to bite them.
"We've been lucky," Pirowski said. "Nobody's staying back. Everybody's rolling over. We know what the pitcher is trying to do, and we haven't been making the adjustments. We've told them it's going to catch up with us, and boy, it did big time."