Valparaiso (9-21, 3-5 Horizon)
Game #31 vs. Saint Francis (Ind.) (16-21, 11-6 MCC)
Wed., April 16, 3 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
Game #32-33 vs. UIC (DH) (20-12, 9-3 Horizon)
Fri., April 18, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
Games #34-35 vs. Wright State (15-15, 7-4 Horizon)
Sat., April 19, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
This Week in Crusader Baseball: After a week off of playing games due to the weather, Valparaiso returns to the diamond for five games in four days beginning on Wednesday when the Crusaders will host Saint Francis (Ind.) in a non-conference game that has just been added to the schedule. Horizon League twinbills against UIC and Wright State on Friday and Saturday will round out the week of action.
On the Air: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) will be providing coverage of four of the five games this week. Wednesday’s game will not be carried, but both Friday and Saturday’s doubleheaders can be heard live over the airways as well as online at www.valpo.edu/athletics.
Pitching Rotation: Starters for Wednesday’s game against Saint Francis (Ind.) have yet to be determined. On Friday, Valpo is tentatively sending righthander Alex Berry (1-4, 8.06) and southpaw Jon Gulbransen (1-4, 4.78) to the hill against the Flames. Saturday, the Crusaders look to send a pair of righthanders in Bryce Shafer (1-3, 5.80) and Elliott Gibbs (1-3, 3.82) to the mound against Wright State. UIC and Wright State have not announced their weekend rotations at this time.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso took a 5-0 lead last Tuesday at Notre Dame, only to see the Fighting Irish rally and score two in the seventh on the way to an 8-6 victory over the Crusaders. Valpo rebounded on Wednesday afternoon with a come-from-behind 5-4 victory over Northern Illinois at Emory G. Bauer Field. Zach Rodeghero went 4-for-4 with four runs batted in in the victory for the Brown and Gold while Jon Gulbransen earned his first collegiate victory.
Scouting Saint Francis (Ind.): The Cougars saw their eight-game winning streak snapped on Monday afternoon with a doubleheader loss at Bethel (Ind.). Saint Francis is slated to play two more against the Pilots on Tuesday before heading to Valpo. Taylor Futterknec leads the Cougars offensively hitting .357 with four homers and 27 runs batted in. Jon Saporsantos is hitting at a .340 clip while Jarrod Wehri is hitting .321 with three homers and 22 RBIs. On the mound, Matt Degitz is the team’s ace, with a 5-2 record and a 3.60 earned run average in seven starts.
Scouting UIC: The Flames enter the week atop the Horizon League standings. Steve McGuiggan leads the way for UIC offensively hitting .381, tied for fourth in the Horizon League this season. Tony Altavilla is hitting .330 for the Flames while Brett Schaeffer is hitting .327 with four homers and 26 runs batted in. On the mound, Derri Miramontes has been at the top of the rotation, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.91 earned run average.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders have won six of their last seven games entering the week and 12 of their last 16 overall after a three-game weekend sweep of Butler last weekend. Jeremy Hamilton is second in the conference in hitting at .396 while Justin Parker and Casey McGrew are both hitting .381. McGrew has five homers and 28 RBIs as well. On the mound, Scott Ruthven is 3-1 with a 2.93 earned run average to lead the way.
Weather Plays Havoc with the Schedule: Rain last weekend forced the cancellation of Valpo’s series with Chicago State and also affected the game Tuesday with Northwestern, as the Wildcats had to make up Big Ten games earlier in the week. To make up a couple of games, the Crusaders will host Saint Francis (Ind.) this Wednesday (Apr. 16) and Judson (Ill.) next Wednesday (Apr. 23).
Rodeghero and Leads Horizon League Batting Leaders: Zach Rodeghero has taken the lead in the Horizon League batting title race after raising his average to .416. The fifth-year senior has a 20-point edge on Jeremy Hamilton of Wright State heading into the week’s play. Teammate Josh Wallace is 10th in the league hitting .327 on the season.
Rodeghero Has Second 10-Game Hitting Streak: Zach Rodeghero has hit safely in his last 10 games, the second time this season he has put together a streak reaching double digits. Rodeghero has tallied three or more hits in five of the 10 games during the streak and is hitting .537 (22-of-41) during the span.
Hits A Telling Stat: Valpo is 8-1 on the season when the Crusaders at least match their opponent’s hit total, while the Brown and Gold is 1-20 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 five appearances against conference competition, Steve Godawa has not allowed a run and has a 1-0 record. He has fanned four in 4.2 innings while opponents are hitting just .118 against him.
Johnson Yet to Yield an Earned Run: Collin Johnson has not given up an earned run in five appearances this season. Opponents are hitting just .200 against him and he has fanned six hitters in 5.1 innings of work.
Wallace Streaking as Well: While Zach Rodeghero currently has an 10-game hitting streak, teammate Josh Wallace has an eight-game streak going. It is his second longest of the season behind a 12-game streak earlier 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 347 career assists over four years. The senior is just 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.
Walking Men: Valparaiso has drawn 123 base on balls already this season as a team, 21 more than any other team in the Horizon League. Jason Brunelli is second in the league drawing 17 walks while Zach Rodeghero is tied for third with 15 free passes.
Rodeghero Enjoying Conference Pitching: In eight games against Horizon League foes, Zach Rodeghero is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with three homers and nine runs batted in. He has a .765 slugging percentage as well.
Tight League Race: Just two games in the loss column separate first place from sixth place in the Horizon League standings midway through the conference campaign. Valpo is currently in sixth place with its 3-5 conference mark, just 1/2 game out of fourth. The Crusaders are hosting the top two teams in the league, UIC and Wright State, this weekend.
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 .393 (11-for-28) this season against southpaws this season. Overall he is hitting .300 in his first season playing every day.
Quinnette Nearly Flawless in the Field: Freshman Andrew Quinnette has committed just two errors in 162 chances this season for the Brown and Gold defensively. The team’s first baseman is fielding at a 98.8% rate to lead the team with those with more than 30 chances.
Valpo Tabbed Seventh: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite.