Valparaiso (21-28, 13-8 Horizon)
Games #50-52 at Milwaukee (25-25-1, 13-9-1 Horizon)
Thursday, May 19, 3 p.m. CDT
Friday, May 20, 1 p.m. CDT (DH)
Henry Aaron Field - Milwaukee, Wis.
Up Next in Crusader Baseball: The 2011 baseball regular season comes to a close on Thursday and Friday as Valparaiso heads to Wisconsin for a three-game series at Milwaukee. The Crusaders enter the weekend in third place, one-half game out of second, as the Horizon League race is bunched from first to fourth place.
On the Air: Neither Thursday nor Friday’s games against Milwaukee will be carried over the air or online. Live stats will also be available through www.valpoathletics.com for each game this season.
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson, the 16th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders and has a 116-153 (.431) record both for his career as well as at Valpo. Woodson ranks fourth in school history for career wins by a head coach. A member of the Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Champion team, he has also managed in the minor leagues through the AAA level.
Probable Starters: Damon McCormick (RHP, 5-5, 3.68) will take the mound for the Crusaders in the opener of the series on Thursday against Milwaukee’s Chad Pierce (RHP, 6-3, 3.08). Game one of Friday’s doubleheader will feature Valpo’s Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 4-7, 3.53) taking the hill against the Panthers’ Eric Semmelhack (RHP, 2-4, 4.09). The series finale on Friday will have Valpo sending Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 5-7, 4.23) to the hill. Milwaukee has not announced its game three starter at this time.
Series Notes: Milwaukee leads the all-time series against Valpo 25-11 dating back to 1990 after the Panthers won both of the previous meetings against the Crusaders this season on May 14.
Wrapping Up Last Weekend: Milwaukee scored four times in the third inning and capitalized on four unearned runs in the game on the way to defeating the Crusaders 7-3 on Saturday in game one of a twinbill at Emory G. Bauer Field. Steven Scoby and Robbie Robinson each had two hits for Valpo while Chad Pierce tossed the seven-inning complete game for the Panthers. In game two, Milwaukee scored three times in both the seventh and eighth innings to rally and down Valpo by the same 7-3 score.
Scouting Milwaukee: The Panthers split a doubleheader against Northern Illinois on Tuesday after losing and tying games at Butler last Sunday. Doug Dekoning leads the offense batting .380 with seven home runs and 46 runs batted in. Cole Kraft is hitting .343 on a squad with a .287 team batting average. Milwaukee’s pitching staff has posted a 4.27 earned run average while limiting opponents to just a .258 batting clip.
Battling for Seeds: Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, the top four seeds in the Horizon League are up for grabs, including the important top two spots, which assure teams first round byes in next week’s tournament. Valpo enters the weekend in third place, one-half game behind UIC, and just ahead of Milwaukee. For Valpo to stay ahead of Milwaukee the Crusaders need to win two of three against the Panthers. Valpo can pass UIC with one more victory than the Flames record against Youngstown State. The Crusaders can still pass Wright State as well, winning two more games this weekend than the Raiders do against Butler. All of these scenarios assume all of the games that are scheduled are played.
Bats Alive in Horizon League Play: Valparaiso’s offense has come alive in Horizon League action this season. While the Crusaders have batted just .235 in non-conference play, the Brown and Gold has batted .301 against conference foes. Six players are hitting over .300 in league play, led by Will Hagel’s .395 batting average.
Solid Pitching in the Horizon League as Well: Valpo’s pitching staff has also been solid since conference play began. Crusader hurlers have posted a 2.72 ERA in conference action while limiting opponents to a .252 batting average. Valpo’s ERA in non-conference play was 4.85.
Scoby Solid Versus Milwaukee Last Weekend: Steven Scoby batted .429 (3-for-7) in the doubleheader against Milwaukee last weekend. The junior outfielder also scored once, drove home two runs, and drew a walk against Panther pitching.
Pencil Them in the Lineup: Chris Manning has started all 49 games for the Crusaders in centerfield while Kyle Gaedele has been in the starting lineup for every game as well for the Brown and Gold in rightfield. Steven Scoby has started 48 of the 49 games in left, giving Valpo a consistent outfield throughout the year.
More Than One: Will Hagel leads the Crusaders with 19 multi-hit games on the year. He also has a team-leading 10 multi-RBI games, including three three-RBI contests on the season.
Throwing Strikes: Tyler Deetjen ranks 29th in the country allowing just 1.21 walks per nine innings while as a team Valpo is 42nd allowing just 2.92 free passes per contest.
Martin’s Hit Streak Reaches 11: Bobby Martin has hit safely in each of his last 11 games entering the final weekend, dating back to the final game of the series at Hawai’i on April 23. During the streak, the junior college transfer is batting .400 (16-for-40) with eight runs scored. He has raised his average 44 points during the streak to .259.
Finishing What They Start: Valpo’s pitching staff has tossed nine complete games already this season, led by Tyler Deetjen’s four and Damon McCormick’s three. Jon Gulbransen and Justin Frane each have a complete game as well.
Win Streak was Second Longest Ever: Valparaiso’s 10-game winning streak from April 6 through April 21 matched the second longest ever in program history. Only a 12-game streak in 1958 has been longer in school history.
Horizon League Honors: Senior hurler Justin Frane was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week on April 18 after limiting Youngstown State to just one earned run and five hits over eight innings for his second victory of the season. On April 25, Damon McCormick was the league’s Pitcher of the Week after striking tout 10 and allowing just two runs and four hits against Hawai’i. Kyle Gaedele was also the Horizon League’s Player of the Week on April 25 after he batted .429 for the week (6-for-14). He scored six times, recorded a triple, a home run, and was walked six times, including twice intentionally.
Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss It: Valparaiso’s baseball game times continue to move along. The Crusaders are averaging just over 2:19 for the 43 nine-inning games in which they have played this season. Valpo has gone over three hours just four times this year, two of which were 11-inning contests.
Gulbransen Moving Career List: Jon Gulbransen has moved into second place on Valpo’s career innings pitched list with 314.1 at Valpo, passing Tim Holmes (1984-1987). He needs just 0.1 more innings to match Harvey Yergin (2004-2007) as the career record-holder at Valpo. His 17 career victories are also seventh all-time in a Crusader uniform. Gulbransen’s next win will move him into a tie for fourth on the career charts.
Career Lists Part Two: Jon Gulbransen also continues to climb the career strikeouts list at Valpo. The southpaw has fanned 259 hitters during his career, passing Shawn Barker (1987-1990) for third on the career charts. The southpaw is just 35 strikeouts behind Jon Robisch (1961-1964) for second place on the all-time list.
Gaedele On Extra Base Charts: Kyle Gaedele has moved into fifth place on Valpo’s career doubles list with 44 two-baggers. He is seven doubles behind J.J. Swiatkowski (1997-2000) for fourth on the career list. Gaedele is also tied for third on the triples list with 12, one three-bagger Robert Skaltsas (1974-1997) for second all-time.
Also a Thief: Kyle Gaedele also is tied for third on the school’s career stolen base list with 46 over his first three years with the Brown and Gold. He has been caught just five times in his career, and his 21 thefts this season are tied for fourth most on Valpo’s single season charts, alongside teammate Chris Manning.
This and That: Will Hagel has reached base safely in 22 straight games dating back to April 6 and his hitting a team-leading .325 ... Hagel is batting .473 (35-for-74) during the span and has drawn 11 walks (.541 on base percentage) ... Kyle Gaedele ranks among the top-10 in the Horizon League in nine different statistical categories.