Valparaiso (5-9, 0-0 Horizon)
Game #15 at Notre Dame (10-5, 0-0 Big East)
Wednesday, Mar. 18, 4 p.m. CDT - Notre Dame, Ind.
Games #16-18 at Butler (1-13, 0-0 Horizon)
Friday, Mar. 20, 2 p.m. CDT - Indianapolis, Ind.
Saturday, Mar. 21 (DH), 11 a.m. CDT - Indianapolis, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso will finally wrap up a season-opening 18-game road trip this week while starting Horizon League play on Friday. The Crusaders make the short trip to Notre Dame on Wednesday afternoon to battle the Fighting Irish before heading to Indianapolis for a three-game set against instate rival Butler on Friday and Saturday to open conference action.
On the Air: All four games this week will be broadcast live on www.valpoathletics.com. WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) will carry Wednesday’s game at Notre Dame as well as Friday’s contest at Butler over the airways as well, while Saturday’s twinbill against the Bulldogs will be aired through www.sportsjuice.com.
Pitching Rotation: On Wednesday at Notre Dame, Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 0-1, 3.52) is expected to toe the rubber for the Crusaders against the Fighting Irish’s Steve Sabatino (LHP, 1-0, 1.80). For the weekend series against Butler, Valpo will throw Bryce Shafer (RHP, 2-1, 8.02), Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 2-2, 5.73), and Alex Berry (RHP, 0-2, 6.62), although the order of the rotation has not been determined. The Bulldogs are expected to send Matt Sokolowski (LHP, 0-2, 6.43) to the hill on Friday, but are still undecided upon Saturday’s starters.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders dropped a day-night twinbill at Mississippi State on Wednesday by the score of 9-2 and 5-4. In the nightcap, Valpo held a 4-0 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, only to see the Bulldogs rally to tie, and win the game in the ninth. On Friday at Tennessee Tech, the Golden Eagles won the opener 6-4 before Valpo took the nightcap 12-8. The Crusaders led 7-0, saw Tennessee Tech tie the game at seven, and eventually homered three times in the sixth for the victory.
Still Streaking: Matt Lenski hit safely in all three games in which he played last week to extend his hitting streak to eight straight games to start the year. Dating back to last season, the senior has hit safely in 10 straight games, seven of which have been multi-hit contests, including five this year. Lenski has also hit safely in 16 of his last 17 contests for the Brown and Gold. He currently leads the Crusaders hitting .433 on the year and has homered twice while driving in nine runs.
Stucky Earns First Collegiate Victory: Matt Stucky earned his first collegiate win in relief on Friday afternoon as the Crusaders snapped their eight-game losing skid with a 12-8 victory at Tennessee Tech. The senior worked 0.2 scoreless innings in his sixth appearance of the season, and earned the win in his 33rd career game overall.
Wallace Goes Yard: Josh Wallace homered twice in game two on Friday at Tennessee Tech and leads the Crusaders with four round-trippers on the year. The junior now has 16 career homers, five shy of moving into the top-10 on Valpo’s career list.
Perfect Defensively: Valpo’s first basemen and catchers have both been flawless this season when it comes to committing errors. Andrew Quinnette and Ryan O’Gara have combined for 110 chances at first base without committing a miscue. Behind the plate, Matt Lenski and Billy Cribbs have both started seven games each, combining on 95 chances without an error. The backstop duo combined have yielded just three passed balls in 14 games as well.
Pulling Double Duty: Damon McCormick has started at second base or shortstop in 13 of the 14 games for the Crusaders this season, but has also been summoned to the mound late in games. The sophomore has made three appearances on the hill, pitching 4.1 innings of scoreless baseball while striking out three. Opponents are hitting just .083 against him as well.
Muhlsteff Leads Team in Doubles and RBIs: Kyle Muhlsteff drove in five more runs this week, including three in the nightcap at Mississippi State, and leads the Crusaders with 12 RBIs on the season. The junior college transfer also doubled in three of the four games for the Brown and Gold to take over the team lead with five two-baggers on the year. He had a seven-game hitting streak snapped in the opener of the doubleheader at Tennessee Tech.
O’Gara Swinging the Bat Well: Ryan O’Gara has been swinging the bat well of late, and brings a five-game hitting streak into the week. The sophomore has four multi-hit games in the nine contests in which he has played this season, and is second on the team hitting .400 for the year. O’Gara’s .471 on base percentage also ranks second on the squad.
Miller Keeps Moving Up: Sophomore Jarad Miller has two saves this season and 11 for his career, moving him past Dallas Cawiezell into third place on the saves list. Justin Craker ranks second with 13 career saves while Adam Knobel holds the school record with 14 saves.