Valparaiso (4-14, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #19-21 at Wright State (3-10, 0-0 Horizon)
Fri., March 21, 5:30 p.m. CDT - Dayton, Ohio
Sat., March 22, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Dayton, Ohio
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso begins its inaugural Horizon League campaign this Friday and Saturday as the Crusaders travel to Dayton, Ohio to begin a three-game set with Wright State. Valpo is continuing its stretch of playing 22 straight games away from Emory G. Bauer Field before hosting Cleveland State in the Crusaders’ home opener next weekend.
On the Air: None of the three games this weekend at Wright State will be carried live on the radio or internet.
Pitching Rotation: Six right-handed hurlers will toe the rubber for Valpo and Wright State to kickoff the Horizon League slate. Friday’s series opener will feature the Crusaders’ Bryce Shafer (0-1, 4.76) against the Raiders’ Michael Woytek (0-2, 10.20). In Saturday’s twinbill, Valpo will send Elliott Gibbs (0-3, 7.20) and Alex Berry (1-3, 11.48) to the mound to face Wright State’s Rylan Ostrosky (0-1, 3.29) and Michael Meintel (1-1, 6.75).
Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders split a four-game series in Dayton last weekend, winning game two of both doubleheaders. It took Valpo extra innings in the series finale before posting a 4-3 victory on Sunday.
Scouting Wright State: The Raiders have won three of their last five games, including taking two out of three from Eastern Michigan last weekend. Jeff Mercer is leading Wright State and the Horizon League hitting .396 on the season with two homers and 12 runs batted in. Ross Vagedes is hitting at a .347 clip with three long balls and a team-leading 13 RBIs. As a team, the Raiders are hitting 2.61 while the pitching staff has a 7.13 earned run average. Wright State is tied with Valpo for the league lead in homers with 12.
Wallace Named Horizon League Player of the Week: Josh Wallace was named the Horizon League Player of the Week after hitting .429 (9-for-21) with three homers and nine runs batted in in seven games last week. The sophomore homered twice and drove in six runs in game two of the twinbill at Marshall on March 12. He is the third Crusader to be recognized by the league this season as Zach Rodeghero was the Player of the Week on February 26 and Bryce Shafer was the Pitcher of the Week on March 4.
Shafer Tough to Hit: Freshman right-hander Bryce Shafer leads the Horizon League with an opponents batting averaging of just .214. He has given up just 21 hits in five starts, and has worked at least five innings in four of the five outings.
Wallace Has Hitting Streak Snapped: Josh Wallace had his 12-game hitting streak snapped in the opener of last Sunday’s doubleheader at Dayton. The sophomore infielder currently is second in the Horizon League hitting .389 while leading the conference in homers (six) and runs batted in (17).
Rodeghero Still Among League Leaders: Zach Rodeghero cooled off a bit after his torrid start but still is third in the Horizon League with a .365 batting average. He has six multi-hit games this year, tied for the league’s lead, and started the year hitting safely in nine straight contests.
DeBruin Streaking: Dan DeBruin enters this weekend’s series at Wright State with a nine-game hitting streak. He also has six multi-hit games this season, and has a .344 batting average on the year.
Valpo Fielding Tops in the Horizon League: The Crusaders currently lead the Horizon League with a .961 fielding percentage. Valpo has committed 24 errors through the first 18 games of the season.
Giusti Climbing Career Assists List: Infielder John Giusti currently ranks fifth all-time in Crusader history with 345 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 .438 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.
Johnson Still Has Yet to Allow an Earned Run: Collin Johnson is the only Crusader to have not allowed an earned run yet this season. He has appeared in three games for 3.1 innings, and has given up just two hits.
Valpo Tabbed Seventh: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite.