Valparaiso (10-14, 5-4 Horizon)
Game #25 at Indiana (12-16, 3-2 Big Ten)
Wednesday, April 8, 3 p.m. CDT - Bloomington, Ind.
Games #26-29 vs. North Dakota (6-15, Independent)
Friday, April 10 (DH), 12 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
Saturday, April 11 (DH), 12 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso steps out of conference play all week beginning on Wednesday afternoon as the Crusaders wrap up their road trip facing Big Ten foe Indiana. Valpo returns home on Friday to begin a weekend homestand against North Dakota with doubleheaders on both Friday and Saturday.
On the Air: Wednesday’s game against the Hoosiers as well as both Friday’s and Saturday’s games against the Fighting Sioux can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com. In addition, live stats via Gametracker will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
Pitching Rotation: On Wednesday, Valparaiso plans to send John Snelten (RHP, 0-2, 7.43) to the mound against Indiana. The Hoosiers have tentatively slated Joey O’Gara (RHP, 1-2, 7.23). For Friday’s twinbill, Alex Berry (RHP, 1-4, 5.12) is set to face North Dakota’s Derek Biermaier (RHP, 3-2, 9.35) in the opener while Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 0-1, 4.50) will battle Brandon Baumgartner (LHP, 1-5, 7.40) in the night cap. Saturday, Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 4-3, 4.68) will take the hill for Valpo in the opener against Mike Lueck (RHP, 0-4, 6.19) while Bryce Shafer (RHP, 3-2, 5.49) will meet David Lind (RHP, 0-2, 8.03) in the series finale.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: After rain postponed Tuesday’s game and forced Friday’s game to be played on Sunday, the Crusaders won the opening game of the weekend series at Cleveland State on Saturday, 10-5, behind the strong showing of Jon Gulbransen on the mound. He went seven scoreless innings scattering just two hits. In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, Valpo rallied with three runs in the ninth but left the tying and go ahead runs on base, falling 7-6. Sunday was a pitcher’s dual with the Vikings posting a 3-1 victory over the Brown and Gold.
Scouting Indiana: The Hoosiers won two out of three against Illinois over the weekend and are 3-2 at home on the year. Alex Dickerson leads the offense hitting .400 with nine homers and 34 runs batted in. Josh Phegley has been hitting at a .389 clip with eight round trippers and 37 RBIs. Indiana’s pitching staff has a 5.99 earned run average led by Eric Arnett who is 6-1 with a 2.17 ERA.
Scouting North Dakota: The Fighting Sioux dropped the final three games of last weekend’s series at Bradley after winning the opener on Friday 7-4. Jake Magner leads the offense hitting .366 on the season with a team-leading seven homers and 25 runs batted in. As a team, North Dakota is hitting .258 while the pitching staff has an 8.34 ERA.
Schedule Changes In Effect: Valpo has added a game to the series with North Dakota this weekend, playing a pair of doubleheaders. Originally, the two schools were going to play a single game on Friday and doubleheaders on Saturday, but now they will play both a nine and a seven inning game each day. In addition, last week’s game at Northern Illinois which was postponed due to rain has been rescheduled for Wednesday, April 29 at 3 p.m. in DeKalb, Ill.
Miller Sets All-Time Save Mark: Sophomore Jarad Miller has a league-leading six saves this season and with his save in the opener on Saturday at Cleveland State, set Valpo’s career save record with 15. He passed Adam Knobel on the all-time charts.
Gulbransen Earns Pitcher of the Week Honor After Tossing Gem: Jon Gulbransen was named Horizon League Pitcher of the Week for the second time this season after tossing seven shutout innings at Cleveland State. The sophomore scattered just two hits and walked one while striking out six to record his fourth victory of the season. He also earned the honor on March 2 after his outing with Arkansas-Little Rock.
Pitchers Mow The League Down: Valpo hurlers lead the Horizon League with 68 strikeouts in conference play only this season. UIC and Youngstown State, which have both played nine games like the Crusaders, are 11 and 13 Ks behind respectively.
Lots of Close Wins This Season: Valparaiso’s bullpen has already recorded nine saves on the season for the Brown and Gold after tallying nine total in all of 2008. The Crusaders have registered saves in all but one of the victories thus far this season, led by Jarad Miller’s six. Steve Godawa has added a pair of saves and Damon McCormick registered a three-inning save earlier this season as well for Valpo. Last year, Miller had all nine of the Crusader saves, picking them up over the course of the team’s 21 wins.
Pitchers Limiting Hits: Valpo’s pitching staff leads the conference in opponents batting average nearing the midway point in the season. Crusader opponents are hitting .281 against the Valpo hurlers on the season. The pitchers have given up just 213 hits through 24 games, 42 fewer than any other school in the league.
Pitchers Controlling League Foes: Valpo’s pitchers have tallied a 3.58 earned run average through the first six Horizon League contests of the season while conference opponents are hitting just .263 against the Brown and Gold. Starting pitchers have accounted for four of the five league victories as well.
Double Duty: Damon McCormick and Justin Frane have both been summoned to the mound this season in addition to their roles as infielder and outfielder respectively. In eight combined appearances over 12 innings, the duo has yet to allow an earned run while surrendering just three hits.
Playing Solid Defense: As a team, Valpo leads the Horizon League fielding at a .968 rate. Through 24 games this season, the Brown and Gold has committed 27 errors, fewest in the conference. The Crusaders have had 11 error-free games this season.
Quinnette Feasting on League Pitching: Andrew Quinnette has hit .500 (8-for-16) in the five Horizon League contests he has played in this year. He has driven in a team-leading seven runs against conference foes and has three doubles and a homer for an .875 slugging percentage.
Sweeping Twinbills: Valparaiso has swept three doubleheaders already this season, after taking both ends of the twinbill against Milwaukee. The Crusaders have also recorded sweeps against Morehead State and Arkansas-Little Rock. Valpo managed to sweep just one doubleheader in all of 2008.
A Solid Job Off of the Bench: Valpo pinch hitters are doing their job, hitting .333 (5-for-15) on the season. Ranko Ivetic has two hits for the Crusaders in five pinch-hitting appearances.
Streaking: Kyle Muhlsteff enters the weekend with the team’s longest hitting streak, having hit safely in eight straight games after recording a seven-game hitting streak earlier this season. Josh Wallace has the second longest active streak at four. Kyle Gaedele and Matt Lenski both had season-long 10 game streaks earlier this year.