Valparaiso (18-30, 8-10 Horizon)
Games #49-51 at UIC (28-19, 14-6 Horizon)
Fri., May 16, 6:05 p.m. - Flames Field, Chicago, Ill.
Sat., May 17, 1:05 p.m. (DH) - Flames Field, Chicago, Ill.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso wraps up the 2008 regular season this weekend with a trip to the Windy City to battle the six-time defending Horizon League champion UIC Flames. The Crusaders enter the weekend in fifth place in the league standings, just percentage points out of fourth and one game out of third while UIC needs a three-game sweep to capture the regular season title.
On the Air: Valparaiso will not be broadcasting this weekend’s games, however they are available online through uicflames.com.
Pitching Rotation: Valparaiso will send righthander Bryce Shafer (3-4, 6.24) to the mound in the series opener on Friday against UIC’s righty Mike Kool (4-4, 4.50). Saturday’s twinbill will have righty John Snelten (2-2, 8.04) and south paw Jon Gulbransen (3-7, 6.06) toe the rubber for the Crusaders while the Flames counter with lefthander Chris Kovacevic (2-4, 5.36) and righthander Derrick Miramontes (5-2, 3.42). All matchups are probable, and may change due to results throughout the weekend.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso enters the weekend having won two straight contests following a 13-6 victory over Cedarville on Tuesday afternoon at Emory G. Bauer Field. The Crusaders jumped out to an 8-0 lead and used 11 extra base hits to register the victory. On Sunday, the Crusaders had a Horizon League twinbill cancelled due to rain at Butler. Last Saturday, the Brown and Gold split a doubleheader with Youngstown State, losing the opener 2-1 before rebounding with a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.
Scouting UIC: The Flames enter the final weekend of the regular season needing a three-game sweep of Valpo to win their seventh consecutive Horizon League title. UIC enters the series on a four-game winning streak after defeating Purdue 9-2 on Wednesday afternoon. Steve McGuiggan leads the way offensively for UIC hitting .368 with 33 runs batted in. He has a .429 on base percentage in the leadoff spot. Jake Carr and Brett Schaefer both are hitting .335 on the season as well. Schaefer also has seven homers and 46 runs batted in for the Flames. UIC is hitting .300 as a team. On the mound, Adam Worthington has five saves and a team-low 2.58 earned run average while Derrick Miramontes has won five games. The Flames’ staff has a 4.63 ERA.
Rodeghero Among Nation’s Top Hitters: Zach Rodeghero entered the week ranked 4th in the nation in hitting among all Division I schools batting .434. He did not register a hit on Tuesday against Cedarville though, and has seen his average dip to .422, which would have still ranked him in the top-10 in the country at the beginning of the week.
DeBruin and Giusti Have Longest Current Streaks: Dan DeBruin currently has the longest active hitting streak of any Crusader with a hit in eight straight games. Earlier this season, the senior hit safely in nine consecutive contests. John Giusti also enters the UIC series having hit safely in seven straight games. It is the second time this season the senior infielder has hit in seven games in a row.
A Tight Race for Tournament Seedings: Valpo can finish anywhere from third to sixth place in the final Horizon League standings. A top-five finish is important, as the sixth and seventh place teams play a single elimination play-in game to get into the double elimination field at the Horizon League Tournament. Valpo enters the weekend fifth, just ahead of Milwaukee, who hosts third place Youngstown State in a three-game set. Fourth place Cleveland State also heads to Butler this weekend with seedings on the line.
Rodeghero Nearing Single Season Records: Zach Rodeghero needs just three more hits to match Mark Pedersen’s 2001 record of 82 for a single season. Rodeghero currently has 79. He also has 20 doubles on the season, one shy of Rob Hadrick’s 1997 mark which was matched by Pedersen in 2001. In addition, with a current average of .422, Rodeghero has a chance to be the first Crusader since Tom Delattre (.418) in 1981 to hit .400 in a single season.
For Three: Dan DeBruin is currently tied for the Horizon League lead with three triples on the season. He had two against Cedarville, and is two three-baggers shy of Valpo’s single season record of seven.
Getting the Runs In: Justin Frane is tied for first in the Horizon League with six sacrifice flies this season.
Five Crusaders Named Horizon League Player of the Week This Season: With Zach Rodeghero being named the Horizon League Player of the Week for the second time this season on May 5, five Crusaders have now earned the honor this year. He also received the accolade on February 4 while Josh Wallace was the Player of the Week on March 18. Elliott Gibbs earned Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors on March 31 and Bryce Shafer was the Pitcher of the Week on March 4.
Godawa Superb Against League Foes: In 10 relief appearances against Horizon League competition, Steve Godawa has not allowed a run and has a 1-0 record. He has fanned seven in 9.1 innings while opponents are hitting just .091 against him.
Giusti Moving Up Assists List: Infielder John Giusti currently ranks second all-time in Crusader history with 412 career assists over four years. He is just 12 short of tying Rick O’Connor’s school record of 424.
Welcome Back Giusti: Since returning to the lineup on April 16 against Saint Francis (Ill.) from a hand injury, senior John Giusti is hitting .509 (29-for-57) with 18 runs scored in 17 games. He has had 10 multi-hit games during the span, including a 4-for-5 effort against UIC on April 18. On the season Giusti is hitting .398.
Lenski Goes Deep Twice: After having hit just one homerun all season, Matt Lenski hit two blasts on Wednesday against Cedarville.
Rodeghero Had 24-Game Hitting Streak Snapped: Zach Rodeghero had a hit in every game during the month of April as part of a 24-game game hitting streak. The streak came to an end on May 6 though, when the fifth-year senior went hitless at Iowa.
What a Comeback: Valpo trailed Butler 13-0 through 4 1/2 innings of game one of an April 26 doubleheader before mounting one of the best comebacks in school history. A seven-run ninth inning tied the game at 15 and the Crusaders won the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th.
Walking Men: Valparaiso has drawn 196 base on balls already this season as a team, nearly 30 more than any other team in the Horizon League. Jason Brunelli is tied for second in the league drawing 27 walks while Zach Rodeghero is fourth with 23 free passes. Last season, in 56 total games, the Crusaders only drew 159 total walks.
Rodeghero Enjoying Conference Pitching: In 18 games against Horizon League foes, Zach Rodeghero is hitting .474 (37-for-78) with three homers and 17 runs batted in. He has a .692 slugging percentage as well.
Miller Saves the Day: Freshman Jarad Miller is at the top of the Horizon League lead with seven saves this season. The rookie has already cracked the career save list at Valpo, currently ranking in a tie for sixth. With his next save, he will tie Chip Pettit for fifth on the all-time save charts.
DeBruin Feasts on Lefties: Dan DeBruin is hitting .429 (18-for-42) this season against southpaws. Overall he is hitting .324 in his first season playing every day.
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 .492 (32-for-65) with runners in scoring position and has been even better with runners on third and less than two outs (16-for-20, .800).
Liking the Bases Juiced: Brett Bivens is hitting .800 (4-for-5) with the bases loaded this season while Zach Rodeghero is hitting .714 (5-for-7) with the sacks packed.
Valpo Guaranteed to Finish Higher Than Prediction: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite. However, Valpo will do better than the preseason prognostications, as the Crusaders are assured of at least a sixth place finish. The Brown and Gold can finish as high as third this season.