Valparaiso (17-19, 5-1 Horizon)
Games #37-38 vs. Wright State (16-15, 6-3 Horizon)
Friday, Apr. 23, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
Games #39-40 vs. UIC (12-21, 7-5 Horizon)
Sunday, Apr. 25, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Riding a six-game winning streak, Valparaiso looks to stay at the top of the Horizon League standings this weekend with a pair of key conference doubleheaders. Friday the Brown and Gold will host Wright State, the league’s preseason favorite, in a twinbill before entertaining UIC in a doubleheader on Saturday.
On the Air: Both games against Wright State as well as the doubleheader against UIC will be broadcast live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will also be available for every game this weekend through www.valpoathletics.com.
Pitching Rotation: Game one of Friday’s twinbill against Wright State will feature a pair of right-handers. Valpo will send Bryce Shafer (RHP, 5-3, 3.98) to the mound against the Raiders’ Alex Kaminsky (RHP, 2-3, 5.37). In game two, the Crusaders will send either Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 3-2, 3.20) or Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 2-1, 5.47) to the hill while Wright State has not determined their starter in the nightcap. Sunday against UIC, Damon McCormick (RHP, 4-0, 6.23) is set to pitch one game for the Brown and Gold while either Gulbransen or Deetjen will toss the other. The Flames have not announced their Sunday starters as of yet.
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson is now in his fourth season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. A former World Series champion with the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, Woodson has a 88-112 record both at Valpo and for his career.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders have won six straight overall, including a three-game sweep of Cleveland State in Horizon League action last Friday and Saturday. Valpo then followed with an 8-1 win against Saint Francis (Ind.) on Sunday before posting a 14-4 triumph against IPFW on Tuesday afternoon.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders have won three straight games entering Friday’s twinbill following an 11-0 shutout victory over Dayton on Wednesday night. Wright State’s offense leads the Horizon League batting .334 while the pitching staff is second in the conference with a 5.76 earned run average. Casey McGrew leads the team with a .397 batting average while Garrett Gray is hitting .387. Quentin Cate, who is hitting .366, has five homers and a league-leading 49 runs batted in.
Scouting UIC: The Flames enter this weekend having dropped three straight following a 5-4 loss at Northern Illinois on Tuesday night. UIC hosts Wright State on Saturday before coming to Valpo on Sunday. The Flames are hitting .298 as a team while the pitching staff has a 9.01 earned run average. Matt Serna tops the team with his .366 batting average. Chris Rutta is hitting .345 with nine homers and 43 runs batted in.
Last Year vs. Wright State and UIC: The Raiders won two of three in Valpo and split a pair of games in Dayton to take the season series from the Crusaders 3-2. Valpo and UIC played just twice, once at each location, with the Flames winning both games. The other three scheduled games were cancelled due to weather.
Shafer Doubles Up on Horizon League Pitcher of the Week and People’s Choice Honors: Bryce Shafer was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week and was voted the People’s Choice winner through the Horizon League Network for the second consecutive week. The junior right-hander went the distance against Cleveland State, allowing just two unearned runs while striking out 14 to get the victory. Last week he went eight innings striking out 13 against Youngstown State.
Exhibition Game Added to the Schedule: The Brown and Gold will play an exhibition game against the Gary SouthShore RailCats for the second straight year on May 12 beginning at 6 p.m. at U. S. Steel Yard.
Home Cooking: Valpo has run its home win streak to 10 straight games after dropping its home opener to Central Michigan. The Crusaders are a perfect 10-0 at Emory G. Bauer Field in April, and on the year are hitting .430 at the friendly confines. Valpo is averaging 13.2 runs per game (145 total) at home this year, as well as 15.9 hits per contest (175 total). The pitching staff is limiting the opposition to just a .266 average while posting a 3.76 earned run average at home. Kyle Muhlsteff is hitting .574 with 10 doubles in his final year at his home field.
High Octane Offense: Valpo has scored eight or more runs in all six games on its current winning streak. Four of the contests have seen the Crusaders tally double figures, something the Brown and Gold has done 12 times already this season. Valpo also has tallied nine runs on three occasions.
Quite a Hitting Streak: Robbie Robinson has hit safely in each of his last 15 games entering the weekend. He started the year hitting just .197 through the month of March before turning it on in April. He began his hitting streak April 2 against Chicago State, and since then has raised his season average 115 points up to .312. Seven of the 15 games have been multi-hit efforts, including a four-hit game against Cleveland State.
Quite a Thief: Kyle Gaedele is a perfect 10-for-10 on the base paths this season. His 10 steals rank second in the conference, but he has the most attempts of anyone in the league that has yet to be caught.
Tough to Score on Shafer: Bryce Shafer has not allowed an earned run since April 5, a span of 18 consecutive innings. During the stretch, he has struck out 28 hitters in the three games, including a 13 K effort at Youngstown State over eight innings and a career-high 14 strikeouts against Cleveland State in a complete game performance last weekend. He also pitched a scoreless inning against Indiana between the two starts.
Shafer Among Nation’s Top Strikeout Men: Junior Bryce Shafer leads the Horizon League and ranks 12th nationally with 73 strikeouts already this season. Shafer enters the weekend with 15 more Ks than any other conference pitcher, and his 10.77 strikeouts per nine innings also ranks 32nd in the country.
Going For Three: As a team Valparaiso is 14th in the country with 17 triples on the season. Kyle Gaedele’s six three-baggers are seventh most individually, and lead the Horizon League, while Justin Frane is 42nd nationally with four triples.
In at Second: Kyle Muhlsteff has ripped 17 doubles already this year, most in the Horizon League. He ranks 16th nationally in two-baggers, with 10 of the 17 coming in just 11 home games at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Looking to Extend the Winning Streak: Valpo enters the weekend having won six straight games, matching the Crusaders’ longest streak of the 2009 season. With one more win the Brown and Gold would have its longest winning streak since winning 10 in a row from April 7-April 19, 2001.
Coming Up Big in Extras: Wit the extra inning win against Youngstown State on April 10, Valpo has now won six of its last seven extra inning contests.
Shafer Begins Cracking Career Top-10 Lists: With his win against Cleveland State, moved into a tie with eight others for sixth on Valpo’s all-time win list. He currently has 16 victories in just under three seasons with the Brown and Gold, two shy of moving into a tie for fourth. Shafer also has moved into a tie with Jim Pomeroy for seventh place on Valpo’s career strikeout list with 202 for his career. He is 10 Ks shy of Chuck Donley’s 212 strikeouts for sixth on the all-time list and 15 behind Richard Beumer for fifth on the list. Shafer has moved into 10th place all-time with 217.0 career innings pitched. He needs 18.2 more innings to move up into the ninth spot.
Crusaders Tie NCAA Records: Valparaiso tied a pair of NCAA records on April 2 in game one of its doubleheader against Chicago State. The Crusaders tied the NCAA Division I mark for runs in an inning, scoring 21 times in the fifth inning, setting a new fifth inning mark all-time in the process. In addition, the Brown and Gold tied a NCAA record for batters in an inning when 25 stepped to the plate in that fifth inning.
Frane Ties NCAA Triples Mark: In game two of the doubleheader against Chicago State on April 2, Justin Frane tied the NCAA record for triples in a game with three. He had a chance for a record-setting fourth three-bagger, hitting one into the gap, but it one-hopped the fence for a ground rule double.
Miller a Preseason All-American: Closer Jarad Miller was named to the Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I Preseason All-American Third Team as well as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award initial watch list. He earned Third Team All-America honors as a sophomore last year. With two saves this season, Miller now has a school-record 28 for his career.
Win #1100: Valparaiso picked up the 1,100th career victory in school history earlier this season with its 17-13 triumph over Saint Bonaventure on March 2.
O’Gara Earns Player of the Week Honors: Ryan O’Gara was named the Horizon League’s Batter of the Week on March 1 after hitting .563 (9-for-16) with two doubles, a homer, four runs scored, and seven runs batted in at the Jacksonville Tournament.
Valpo Tabbed Fifth: The Crusaders were picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League preseason poll, according to the league’s head coaches. Valpo finished fourth in the regular season last year as well. Wright State is the preseason favorite this year after winning the Horizon League Tournament and earning a NCAA Tournament berth last year. Last year’s regular season champion UIC is tabbed second followed by Milwaukee and Valpo.
Horizon League Tournament Comes to Northwest Indiana: Valparaiso will host the 2010 Horizon League Baseball Championship May 26-30 at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind. The double elimination tournament will feature the top six teams in the conference based upon regular season play.