Valparaiso (11-24, 3-7 Horizon)
Games #36-38 vs. Butler (8-26, 4-12 Horizon)
Fri., April 25, 3 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
Sat., April 26, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
This Weekend in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso wraps up its four-game homestand this weekend with a pivotal three-game Horizon League set against instate rival Butler. The Crusaders are looking to move up the conference standings at the midway point of the conference slate.
On the Air: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) will be providing coverage of two of the three games this weekend. Friday’s game as well as game one of Saturday’s doubleheader can be heard live over the airways as well as online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
Pitching Rotation: Righthander Elliott Gibbs (1-3, 3.82) will be handed the ball in the series opener on Friday for the Crusaders. He will face Butler righthander Ryan Kruszka (1-2, 5.59). On Saturday, righties Alex Berry (1-4, 8.31) and Bryce Shafer (1-3, 6.65) will toe the mound for the Brown and Gold against Bulldog righthanders Jeff Sinkiewicz (1-3, 4.54) and Brian Deter (0-0, 0.00).
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso scored multiple runs in every other inning on Wednesday afternoon as the Crusaders shutout Judson 13-0. Jon Gulbransen went five solid innings to record the victory while Justin Frane drove home three runs. On Tuesday, the Crusaders jumped out to a 2-0 lead, only to have Central Michigan score 10 times in the eighth on the way to a 13-2 win. Last weekend, Valpo’s Saturday twinbill with Wright State was cancelled due to rain while the Crusaders dropped a doubleheader Friday to UIC 14-12 and 14-4.
Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs enter the weekend on a five-game losing skid and have dropped nine of their last 10 overall. Butler was swept in a home doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon against Dayton 6-2 and 19-2. Kyle Schultz leads the team in hitting with a .411 average while Joe Pauley is hitting .300 with six homers and 25 runs batted in. As a team, Butler is hitting .262 through 34 games. On the mound, Joe Ochs is 3-0 with a 2.52 earned run average while Bryan Bokowy has a team-leading 30 strikeouts in 33.2 innings of work. The pitching staff has a 7.12 ERA and opponents are hitting .335 off of the Bulldogs.
Rodeghero Among Nation’s Top Hitters: Zach Rodeghero entered the week ranked 22nd in the nation in hitting among all Division I schools batting .424. After the two midweek games, he has raised his average to .429 heading into the weekend, second best in the Horizon League.
Weather Plays Havoc with the Schedule: Rain last Saturday forced the cancellation of Valpo’s doubleheader with Wright State. It is the second time this year the Crusaders and Raiders have had a game rained out, as the March 22 game in Dayton, Ohio was also affected by the weather. Per Horizon League policy, none of the three games will be made up.
Rodeghero Has 15-Game Hitting Streak Alive: Zach Rodeghero has hit safely in his last 15 games, the second time this season he has put together a streak reaching double digits. He began the streak on March 26 at Purdue and is hitting .525 (32-for-61) over the 15 games with a .721 slugging percentage. Seven of the 15 games have seen Rodeghero record at least three hits.
DeBruin Has Hitting Streak as Well: Dan DeBruin also enters the weekend with a seven-game hitting streak dating back to the Notre Dame game on April 8. The senior centerfielder is hitting .393 (11-for-28) during the span.
Hits A Telling Stat: Valpo is 9-1 on the season when the Crusaders at least match their opponent’s hit total, while the Brown and Gold is 2-23 when being out hit in a game. The Crusaders had a team-high 19 hits early this season against Indiana.
Godawa Good Against League Foes: In six relief appearances against Horizon League competition, Steve Godawa has not allowed a run and has a 1-0 record. He has fanned four in 5.2 innings while opponents are hitting just .100 against him.
Mainstays at Their Position: Damon McCormick has started 32 of the 35 games this season at shortstop while Dan DeBruin has started 32 games for the Crusaders in centerfield. DeBruin has also led off all 32 games in which he has started, while Zach Rodeghero has hit in the third spot in the lineup in 33 of the 35 games.
Getting the Runs In: Justin Frane is tied for second in the Horizon League with five sacrifice flies this season.
Four Crusaders Named Horizon League Player of the Week This Season: With Elliott Gibbs earning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors on March 31, he became the fourth Crusader to earn the honor this season. Josh Wallace was named the conference’s Player of the Week on March 18. Zach Rodeghero was the Player of the Week on February 26 and Bryce Shafer was the Pitcher of the Week on March 4.
Giusti Climbing Career Assists List: Infielder John Giusti currently ranks fifth all-time in Crusader history with 359 career assists over four years. The senior has passed Chris Moore’s mark of 344 to move into the top-five all-time. Dale Polonus is fourth with 375 assists while Jeff Rickert had 378 during his career with the Brown and Gold.
Welcome Back Giusti: Since returning to the lineup on April 16 against Saint Francis (Ill.) from a hand injury, senior John Giusti is hitting .667 (8-for-12) with six runs scored. He had four hits in game two against UIC and two hits against both Saint Francis and Judson.
Walking Men: Valparaiso has drawn 150 base on balls already this season as a team, 14 more than any other team in the Horizon League. Jason Brunelli is tied for second in the league drawing 19 walks while Zach Rodeghero is tied for ninth with 16 free passes. Last season, in 56 total games, the Crusaders only drew 159 total walks.
Rodeghero Enjoying Conference Pitching: In 10 games against Horizon League foes, Zach Rodeghero is hitting .442 (19-for-43) with three homers and 11 runs batted in. He has a .721 slugging percentage as well.
Miller Saves the Day: Freshman Jarad Miller is tied for the Horizon League lead with four saves this season. The rookie needs just two more to move into the top-10 all-time for a career with the Brown and Gold.
DeBruin Feasts on Leftys: Dan DeBruin is hitting .394 (13-for-33) this season against southpaws. Overall he is hitting .308 in his first season playing every day.
Quinnette Nearly Flawless in the Field: Freshman Andrew Quinnette has committed just two errors in 177 chances this season for the Brown and Gold defensively. The team’s first baseman is fielding at a 98.9% rate to lead the team with those with more than 40 chances.
Getting Hits in a Pinch: Valpo’s pinch hitters are hitting .344 (11-for-32) this season. David Klein and Bill Lazar lead the team with two pinch hits a piece.
Rodeghero Comes Through in the Clutch: Zach Rodeghero not only is second in the league in hitting, but has gotten the key hits when it counts. The senior is hitting .532 (25-for-47) with runners in scoring position and has been even better with runners in scoring position and two outs (12-for-16, .750).
Liking the Bases Juiced: Brett Bivens is hitting .800 (4-for-5) with the bases loaded this season.
Valpo Tabbed Seventh: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite.