Valparaiso (5-15, 1-1 Horizon)
Game #21 at Purdue (6-11, 0-0 Big Ten)
Wed., March 26, 3 p.m. CDT - West Lafayette, Ind.
Games #22-24 vs. Cleveland State (5-7, 0-0 Horizon)
Fri., March 28, 3 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
Sat., March 29, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso will wrap up its long road trip to begin the season on Wednesday afternoon as the Crusaders head to West Lafayette, Ind. to battle Big Ten foe Purdue. Valpo then will open the home campaign this weekend with a three-game weekend series against Cleveland State, including a single game on Friday and a twinbill on Saturday.
On the Air: All four games this weekend are slated to be carried live. Wednesday’s game at Purdue will be broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Friday and Saturday’s games against Cleveland State will both be carried online at www.sportsjuice.com.
Pitching Rotation: Southpaw Jon Gulbransen (0-3, 6.35) will toe the rubber for the Crusaders on Wednesday afternoon against Purdue. The Boilermakers are slated to go with right-hander Matt Morgan (0-0, 13.50). Valpo will send right-hander Bryce Shafer (1-1, 5.05) to the hill in the series opener on Friday while Cleveland State will counter with lefty Josh Hungerman (1-1, 3.38). In game one on Saturday, a pair of right-handers will square off with Elliott Gibbs (0-3, 6.91) taking the mound for Valpo against the Vikings’ Brian Long (2-1, 2.52). In the series finally, right-hander Alex Berry (1-3, 11.48) will get the start for the Crusaders against southpaw Sam Suitca (1-3, 4.87).
Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders split their opening Horizon League twinbill last Friday night in Dayton against Wright State. Valpo jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opener before holding on for a 6-5 victory before the Raiders took game two in 10 innings by the score of 8-7. Saturday’s series finale was postponed due to snow.
Scouting Purdue: The swept a four-game weekend series against Western Illinois last Saturday and Sunday, including a 22-10 victory in the series finale. Eric Nielsen is hitting .350 for the Boilermakers while Dan Black leads the team with 19 runs batted in. As a team, Purdue has a .271 batting average and the pitching staff has a 3.34 earned run average. Kyle Cook leads the team with two victories and a 0.68 ERA. Allan Donato has been the ace thus far, logging 30 innings with a 2.10 ERA.
Scouting Cleveland State: The Vikings are opening Horizon League play this weekend against the Crusaders. Prior to midweek games, Cleveland State has been idle since a 5-3 loss to North Dakota State back on March 16. Josh Geric leads the Vikings offensively hitting .351 with eight runs batted in. Brad Buell is hitting at a .348 clip while Kyle Bischof has a team-leading 10 RBIs.
Shafer Tough to Hit: Freshman right-hander Bryce Shafer leads the Horizon League with an opponents batting averaging of just .205. He has given up just 25 hits in six starts, and has worked at least five innings in five of the six outings. Only one other pitcher in the league (Derrick Miramontes, UIC, .217) even has an opponent’s batting average below the .235 mark.
Wallace Leads Horizon League in Hitting: Josh Wallace leads the Horizon League with his .355 batting average this season. He has at least one hit in 14 of the 17 games in which he has played, including a 12-game hitting streak earlier this season. The sophomore also ranks second in the league, and on the team, with 17 runs batted in.
Rodeghero Leads League in Numerous Categories: Zach Rodeghero has driven in 18 runs in 20 games this season to lead the Horizon League in RBIs. In addition, his .347 batting average ranks seventh in the conference while his 25 hits are also tops among league hitters. Rodeghero also has scored a league-best 18 times on the year and has the Horizon League lead with eight doubles.
DeBruin Streak Snapped: Dan DeBruin had a nine-game hitting streak entering last weekend, but it was snapped in the opener against Wright State. He bounced back with a hit in game two though. He is the third Crusader this year with a hitting streak of nine games or more. Josh Wallace had a 12-game streak earlier this season while Zach Rodeghero hit safely in the first nine games of the year and 13 straight dating back to last season.
Valpo Fielding Tops in the Horizon League: The Crusaders currently lead the Horizon League with a .960 fielding percentage. Valpo has committed 28 errors through the first 20 games of the season.
Three Crusaders Named Horizon League Player of the Week: Josh Wallace was named the Horizon League Player of the Week on March 18, becoming the third Crusader to be recognized by the league this season. 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.
Getting Bench Production: Valpo’s hitters are coming off of the bench and recording a .471 (8-for-17) batting average in pinch hitting situations thus far this season. Bill Lazar is 2-for-2 in pinch hitting appearances while David Klein also has two pinch hits.
Pop in the Crusader Lineup: Josh Wallace has six homers already this season, more than any Crusader hit in the 56 games total last year. The sophomore has helped Valpo hit 13 long balls in the first 20 games this year, while the team hit 28 total in all of 2007.
Miller Slams the Door: Freshman Jarad Miller has become the Crusaders’ closer of late. The rookie is 1-1 with a pair of saves, tied for the Horizon League lead. He has not allowed a hit in his last three appearances, dating back to the Dayton series.
Bullpen Solid in Conference Opening Series: Valparaiso’s bullpen allowed just one run in seven innings of work against Wright State in the Horizon League opening series. Steve Godawa pitched in both games of the twinbill, allowing just one hit in 1.2 innings of work while Jay Clites tossed 2.1 innings of scoreless relief in game two.
Valpo Tabbed Seventh: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite.