Valparaiso (8-20, 3-5 Horizon)
Game #29 at Notre Dame (16-9-1, 7-2 Big East)
Tues., April 8, 4:05 p.m. CDT - Notre Dame, Ind.
Game #30 vs. Northern Illinois (12-15, 5-4 MAC)
Wed., April 9, 3 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
Games #31-33 vs. Chicago State (3-25 Independent)
Sat., April 12, 12 p.m. CDT (DH) - Emory G. Bauer Field
Sun., April 13, 1 p.m. CDT - Emory G. Bauer Field
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso is set for a busy week of games as the Crusaders will play five games between Tuesday and Sunday. The Crusaders will head to Notre Dame on Tuesday before hosting Northern Illinois on Wednesday and Chicago State over the weekend.
On the Air: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) will be providing coverage of all five games this weekend. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday’s games will be carried live both over the airwaves and online at www.valpo.edu/athletics. Saturday’s twinbill will be broadcast live on www.sportsjuice.com.
Pitching Rotation: Righthander John Snelten (1-0, 12.60) is slated to take the mound for the Crusaders on Tuesday afternoon against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish will counter with righthander Brian Dupra (1-2, 6.94). Wednesday against Northern Illinois, southpaw Jon Gulbransen (0-4, 4.66) will toe the rubber against either of two Husky’ lefthanders: Brandon Copp (1-3, 7.20) or Dave Reynolds (3-0, 3.00). The pitching matchups for this weekend’s series against the Cougars has yet to be announced.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso won its midweek game 9-4 against Illinois Tech last Wednesday afternoon before taking one of three at Youngstown State over the weekend in Horizon League action. In the series opener, Valpo posted an 11 inning victory 4-3. The Penguins swept Saturday’s twinbill 6-0 and 3-1.
Scouting Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have won three straight games following a weekend sweep of Big East foe Rutgers. Notre Dame is hitting .314 as a team while outscoring opponents 182-124 on the season. A.J. Pollock leads the offense hitting .379 with 22 runs batted in while Ross Brezovsky is hitting at a .341 pace. Evan Sharpley has hit six homers and has driven in 19 already this season in just 16 starts. On the mound, Eric Maust has a 2-1 record with a 2.70 earned run average in 33.1 innings of work while Wade Korpi already has four victories. As a staff, the Fighting Irish have a 4.30 ERA.
Scouting Northern Illinois: The Huskies have won two straight games entering this week after posting a weekend series victory against Kent State. Jeff Thomas is hitting a team-leading .343 while Danny Reed is hitting at a .339 clip with 12 doubles and 28 runs batted in. Justin Behm has a team-high four homers. Northern Illinois’ pitching staff has a 5.26 earned run average on the season, led by Adam Holdenrid’s 3-2 record and a 2.31 ERA.
Scouting Chicago State: The Cougars enter the week having dropped 19 straight games since a doubleheader sweep of Texas Southern in early March. Chicago State fell to Southern and Jackson State last weekend and will face Northwestern, Milwaukee, and Lewis prior to coming to Valpo.
Rodeghero and Wallace Among Horizon League Batting Leaders: Zach Rodeghero is second in the Horizon League in hitting with a .381 batting average, trailing just UIC’s Steve McGuiggan, who is hitting at a .389 clip. Josh Wallace is tied for ninth in the conference as well with his .319 mark.
Rodeghero Leads League in Numerous Categories: Zach Rodeghero has driven in 25 runs in 28 games this season to lead the Horizon League in RBIs. In addition, his 40 hits are second among league hitters. Rodeghero also has scored a league-best 25 times on the year and is tied for the Horizon League lead with 10 doubles. The fifth-year senior also has the league’s top on base percentage at .459.
Fielding Key to Valpo’s Success: Seven of the Crusaders eight 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 1-11 on the year.
Hits Another Telling Stat: Valpo is 7-1 on the season when the Crusaders at least match their opponent’s hit total, while the Brown and Gold is 1-19 when being out hit in a game.
Johnson Yet to Yield an Earned Run: Collin Johnson has not given up an earned run in five appearances this season. Opponents are hitting just .200 against him and he has fanned six hitters in 5.1 innings of work.
Streaking Crusaders: Zach Rodeghero currently has an eight-game hitting streak, his second longest of the season. Earlier this year the fifth-year senior had a nine game string. Josh Wallace has a six-game streak going, second to his 12 game streak earlier this season.
Four Crusaders Named Horizon League Player of the Week: With Elliott Gibbs earning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors on March 31, he became 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.
Taking Care of Pinch Hitters: Valpo’s pitchers have done a solid job of retiring opponents pinch hitters this season. Pinch hitters are hitting just .233 (7-for-30) against the Brown and Gold this season.
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.
Walking Men: Valparaiso has drawn 114 base on balls already this season as a team, 39 more than any other team in the Horizon League. Jason Brunelli is second in the league drawing 16 walks while Zach Rodeghero is third with 14 free passes. Justin Frane is tied for fifth having drawn 12 walks on the season.
Rodeghero Enjoying Conference Pitching: In eight games against Horizon League foes, Zach Rodeghero is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with three homers and nine runs batted in. He has a .765 slugging percentage as well.
Tight League Race: Just one-and-a-half games separates second place from seventh in the Horizon League standings through three weeks of conference action. While Valpo is idle this week, the Brown and Gold could still move up from their fifth place standing pending results of other league play. Cleveland State is at Milwaukee, Wright State heads to Butler, and UIC is at Youngstown State for three game sets each this weekend.
Valpo Tabbed Seventh: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite.