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Baseball: Valparaiso bats bust out in opener

Valparaiso's CJ Gear chases after foul ball right field third inning against Munster Friday evening Steel Yard Gary.| Jeffrey D.

Valparaiso's CJ Gear chases after a foul ball in right field in the third inning against Munster Friday evening at the Steel Yard in Gary.| Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: May 7, 2013 6:20AM



GARY — In its first game of the season, Valparaiso displayed its offensive firepower at the U.S. Steel Yard, hitting its way to an 11-5 win over Munster as part of the RailCats High School Challenge.

“We had a lot of confidence coming into this game; we’ve got a lot of seniors,” said Valparaiso (1-0) senior Alex Bales, who finished the game with three singles, three RBI and a run scored. “We don’t rely on any one person. We’re a team. We want to do everything together and work off of each other.”

It was Munster — in its seventh game of the young season — which struck first in the game, with Joe Jumonville drawing a one-out walk and coming around to score three batters later on a Scott Shaner sacrifice fly. Then, Valparaiso took over in the bottom of the inning.

Vikings leadoff man Stephen Simms greeted Munster (4-3) starter Mike Poulos with a line drive back up the middle. Jeff Holmes followed with another single and then CJ Gear drove in the first Vikings run with a double to left-center.

Even when Poulos struck out Vikings cleanup hitter Tyler Ellrich, a dropped third strike allowed Ellrich to reach first base and another run crossed home plate. The first five hitters that inning all reached base and scored, as Valparaiso sent 10 hitters to the plate, tallying four hits and benefitting from one walk, one beaned batter and two Munster errors.

“We’ve had a nice week of practice. The weather didn’t always cooperate, but it allowed us to get outside and do some things,” Valparaiso head coach Dave Coyle said of his offense. “I thought they did very well.”

Ethan Lehnen and Alex Bales singled, followed by a Sam Miller walk to quickly load the bases at the start of the Vikings’ third inning. All three of those runners would score in the inning, two of them on a single through the left side by Jared Folke. After three innings, Valparaiso held an 8-1 lead.

“We’ve done that to other teams this season,” said Munster head coach Bob Shinkan after his team’s seventh game in eight days. “For us to go through that adversity is a learning experience for us. Now they know what it’s like and they know that we can’t do anything like that.”

Munster scored two runs in the fourth and added one more in the fifth inning to get within four runs of Valparaiso, but three Vikings runs in the sixth inning added ample insurance.



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