Valparaiso (6-18, 2-3 Horizon)
Game #25 vs. Illinois Tech (5-9, 1-2 CACC)
Wed., April 2, 3 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
Games #26-28 at Youngstown State (5-15, 1-2 Horizon)
Fri., April 4, 6 p.m. CDT - Youngstown, Ohio
Sat., April 5, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Youngstown, Ohio
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso will wrap up its four-game homestand on Wednesday afternoon as the Crusaders host Illinois Tech. The game was just added to the schedule late last week to make up for one of the games cancelled by weather earlier in the season. Valpo then heads to Youngstown State Friday and Saturday for a three-game Horizon League set.
On the Air: None of this week’s games will be broadcast live over the airways or online.
Pitching Rotation: Righthander John Snelten (0-0, 15.30) is slated to take the mound for the Crusaders on Wednesday afternoon against Illinois Tech. The Scarlet Hawks are undecided upon their starter. Neither Valparaiso nor Youngstown State has announced their weekend starting rotation as of Tuesday afternoon.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso dropped a midweek contest at Purdue 15-0 last Wednesday afternoon before taking one of three games against Cleveland State to open the home campaign. After Friday’s game was postponed to Sunday, Elliott Gibbs tossed a four-hit shutout in the series opener on Saturday as Valpo won 7-0. The Vikings won game two 4-2 and took the rubber match on Sunday 7-5.
Scouting Illinois Tech: The Scarlet Hawks enter the week having dropped three straight games, including a conference doubleheader to Purdue North Central last weekend. Thomas Hotz leads the Illinois Tech offense with a .361 batting average on the season. Branden Schombert is the pitching staff’s ace, with a team-leading 22 innings and a 1.64 earned run average.
Scouting Youngstown State: The Penguins enter the week on a four-game losing skid, including a three-game sweep at the hands of Western Kentucky last weekend. Youngstown State plays Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before facing the Crusaders this weekend. Joe Iacobucci leads the Penguins hitting .314 with 10 runs batted in while Sean Lucas is hitting at a .313 clip through 19 games. On the mound, Aaron Swenson leads the Penguin staff with a 1-2 record and a 3.38 ERA. He allowed just one run earlier this year in a complete game victory against Butler.
Gibbs Earns Several Honors: Elliott Gibbs was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week honors after tossing a four-hit complete game shutout against Cleveland State on Saturday. The sixth-year senior struck out nine in his first collegiate shutout, a 7-0 Crusader victory, and also earned the insidepitching.com Great Lakes Region Pitcher of the Week honor.
Shafer Tough to Hit: Freshman right-hander Bryce Shafer leads the Horizon League with an opponents batting averaging of just .220. He has given up just 31 hits in seven starts, and has worked at least five innings in six of the seven outings.
Rodeghero and Wallace Among Horizon League Batting Leaders: Zach Rodeghero is second in the Horizon League in hitting with a .382 batting average, trailing just UIC’s Steve McGuiggan. Josh Wallace is tied for fifth in the conference as well with his .325 mark.
Rodeghero Leads League in Numerous Categories: Zach Rodeghero has driven in 23 runs in 24 games this season to lead the Horizon League in RBIs. In addition, his 34 hits are also tops among league hitters. Rodeghero also has scored a league-best 21 times on the year and is tied for the Horizon League lead with eight doubles. The fifth-year senior also has the league’s top on base percentage at .456.
Lazar Hits Viking Pitching Well: Joe Lazar hit .364 (4-for-11) in three games against the Vikings to raise his season average to .281. He already has six RBIs on the season in his first 10 games, after driving home 11 runs over the first 42 games of his career.
Fielding Key to Valpo’s Success: The Crusaders six victories this season have all occurred when the Brown and Gold have committed one error or less in a game. When Valpo makes two or more miscues, they are 0-10 on the year.
Hits Another Telling Stat: Valpo is 6-1 on the season when the Crusaders at least match their opponent’s hit total, while the Brown and Gold is 0-17 when being out hit in a game.
Crusaders Named Horizon League Player of the Week: With Elliott Gibbs earning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors on March 31, he was the fourth Crusader to earn the honor this season. Josh Wallace was named the conference’s Player of the Week on March 18. Zach Rodeghero was the Player of the Week on February 26 and Bryce Shafer was the Pitcher of the Week on March 4.
Giusti Climbing Career Assists List: Infielder John Giusti currently ranks fifth all-time in Crusader history with 347 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 .474 (8-for-18) 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.
Pop in the Crusader Lineup: Josh Wallace has seven homers already this season, more than any Crusader hit in the 56 games total last year. The sophomore has helped Valpo hit 16 long balls in the first 24 games this year, while the team hit 28 total in all of 2007.
Walking Men: Valparaiso has drawn 105 base on balls already this season as a team, 37 more than any other team in the Horizon League. Jason Brunelli leads the league drawing 15 walks while Justin Frane and Zach Rodeghero are tied for second with 12 free passes. Josh Wallace is tied for fifth in the conference with 11 walks drawn already.
Rodeghero Enjoying Conference Pitching: In five games against Horizon League foes, Zach Rodeghero is hitting .455 (10-for-22) with three homers and nine runs batted in. He has an .864 slugging percentage as well.
Valpo Tabbed Seventh: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite.