Valpo Looks to Continue Best Start in 40 Years at Arkansas, Memphis This Week
Monday, March 2, 2009
Valpo Looks to Continue Best Start in 40 Years at Arkansas, Memphis This Week
Matt Lenski is hitting .500 thus far this season for Valpo. (Ray Acevedo)

Valparaiso (4-1, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #6-7 at Arkansas (5-1, 0-0 SEC)
Tuesday, Mar. 3, 3:05 p.m. CST - Fayetteville, Ark.
Wednesday, Mar. 4, 3:05 p.m. CST - Fayetteville, Ark.
Games #8-10 at Memphis (3-3, 0-0 C-USA)
Friday, Mar. 6, 4 p.m. CST - Memphis, Tenn.
Saturday, Mar. 7, 2 p.m. CST - Memphis, Tenn.
Sunday, Mar. 8, 1 p.m. CDT - Memphis, Tenn.

This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso continues its southern swing this week as the Crusaders play five more games in its season-opening 20-game road trip.  The Crusaders will head to Arkansas, ranked #21 by Baseball America, on Tuesday and Wednesday, before facing Memphis for a three-game weekend series.

On the Air:  Neither of the games will be broadcast live at Arkansas nor will the three game series at Memphis be carried on the air.

Pitching Rotation: John Snelten (RHP, 0-0, 3.86) will make his first start of the season for Valpo on Tuesday against the Razorbacks while Alex Berry (RHP, 0-1, 6.00) is slated to be handed the ball on Wednesday.  The weekend order has not been set, but Bryce Shafer (RHP, 2-0, 5.91) or Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 2-0, 2.08) is set to pitch on Friday, with the other starting on Saturday.  Sunday, Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 0-0, 0.00) is tentatively set to make his collegiate debut.

Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders took two out of three games against Arkansas-Little Rock to win the weekend series.  The host Trojans won the opener 5-0 on Friday night before Saturday’s game was postponed, forcing a doubleheader on Sunday.  In the opener of the twinbill, Jon Gulbransen allowed just two hits in eight innings as Valpo shutout UALR 2-0.  The Crusader offense came alive in game two, scoring eight times in the first five innings on the way to a 10-8 victory.

Gulbransen Named Pitcher of the Week: Jon Gulbransen was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week for his eight innings of shutout baseball against Arkansas-Little Rock.  The sophomore southpaw allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out eight on his way to his second victory of the season.

Pitchers Have Been Tough: Through five games, Valpo pitchers are holding opponents to just a .238 batting average.  Allowing just 38 hits in 42 innings of work, the hurlers have walked just 11 while striking out 37 opponents.

Best Start 40 Years: Valpo’s 4-1 record marks the team’s best five-game start to a season since 1969 when that team also began the year with the same record.  In 1969, the team went on to post an 8-1 mark in the first nine games on the way to finishing the season 18-4, sharing the Indiana Collegiate Conference title with a 7-1 mark, and making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament under head coach Emory G. Bauer.

Getting On Base: While the Crusader hitters have just a .255 batting average early in the season, they have been patient at the plate.  Valpo has drawn 22 walks and been hit by six pitches through five games for a team on base percentage of .363.

Miller Keeps Moving Up: Sophomore Jarad Miller earned his second save of the season for the Brown and Gold against Arkansas-Little Rock, pitching a scoreless ninth in game one of the doubleheader.  The save was the 11th of his career, moving him past Dallas Cawiezell into third place on the saves list.  Justin Craker ranks second with 13 career saves while Adam Knobel holds the school record with 14 saves.

Scoby Producing Early: Freshman Steven Scoby has hit .385 in four starts in the outfield for the Brown and Gold thus far this season.  The rookie is tied for the team lead with five hits, leads the team with five runs batted in, and has scored three times while slugging at a .692 clip.

Godawa and Shafer Shine on the Mound: Steve Godawa picked up his second career save, and second save of the season, in game two of the twinbill on Sunday with four strikeouts in 2.1 innings of work.  Bryce Shafer earned his second win of the year in the nightcap as well, and now has six victories in just over a year with Valpo.

Bettering Last Season: The Crusaders doubleheader sweep of Arkansas-Little Rock was the second twinbill Valpo has won this year.  In 2008, the Brown and Gold swept just one doubleheader the entire season.  The Crusaders also have won four of their first five games while not winning game number four until the 18th game of last season.

Muhlsteff Has Big Twinbill: Kyle Muhlsteff drove home four runs in the doubleheader sweep of UALR on Sunday afternoon.  He had a three-run double to key the game two victory.

Valpo Tabbed Fifth: The Crusaders were picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League preseason poll, according to the league’s head coaches.  Valpo finished sixth in the regular season last year, but placed third in the Horizon League Tournament.  UIC is this year’s preseason favorite.