Valparaiso (5-12, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #18-20 at Southeast Missouri State (8-8, 0-0 OVC)
Friday, Mar. 19, 3 p.m. CDT - Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Saturday, Mar. 20, 1 p.m. CDT - Cape Girardeau, Mo.
Sunday, Mar. 21, 1 p.m. CDT - Cape Girardeau, Mo.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso continues its season-opening 23-game road trip this weekend as the Crusaders head to Cape Girardeau, Mo. to face Southeast Missouri State in a three-game series. Valpo looks to continue its momentum after winning two out of three last weekend at Gardner-Webb.
On the Air: All three games this weekend can be heard live through www.valpoathletics.com. The link goes to Southeast Missouri State’s feed, which is ESPN 1220. In addition, Saturday’s game is slated to have an online video broadcast through KFVS Channel 12. That link can also be found on www.valpoathletics.com. Live stats will also be available for all three games this weekend.
Pitching Rotation: Bryce Shafer (RHP, 2-1, 2.79) is slated to take the mound for the Crusaders on Friday afternoon against the Redhawks’ Kyle Gumieny (RHP, 2-0, 3.28). Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 1-1, 2.01) toes the rubber in the middle game of the weekend series for the Brown and Gold against Southeast Missouri State’s Logan Mahon (LHP, 2-0, 3.13). Damon McCormick (RHP, 2-0, 4.41) will wrap up the series for Valpo on Sunday afternoon facing Jordan Underwood (LHP, 0-3, 3.86).
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson is now in his fourth season at the helm of the Brown and Gold. A former World Series champion with the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers, Woodson has a 76-105 record both at Valpo and for his career.
Wrapping Up Last Week’s Action: The Crusaders opened the week dropping a pair of games at #19 South Carolina 12-4 and 7-3. The Crusaders won the opener at Gardner-Webb on Friday 7-5 behind eight innings of work from Damon McCormick. The Crusaders split a twinbill on Saturday, falling 9-4 before rebounding for a 10-4 victory in the nightcap.
Scouting Southeast Missouri State: The Redhawks have won four of their last five games and returned to .500 following a 13-1 victory over Freed-Hardeman on Tuesday afternoon. Casey Jones leads the team’s offensive attack, hitting .487 on the year while Tim Rupp checks in at .425. As a team, Southeast Missouri State is hitting .329. On the mound, Redhawk hurlers have posted a 5.29 earned run average on the season, while limiting opposing hitters to a .274 batting average.
Seven the Magic Number: Every Valparaiso victory this season has seen the Crusaders score at least seven runs. In fact, in eight of the Crusaders’ 17 games this year, the offense has tallied at least seven runs.
On the Road Again: After opening the 2009 season with 18 straight games away from Valparaiso, the Crusaders have added even more road contests to the start of this year. Valpo is playing its first 23 games away from Emory G. Bauer Field, not opening at home until game number 24 against Central Michigan on March 30.
A 1-2-3 Punch: Valparaiso’s weekend rotation has been solid this season, recording all five Crusader victories. Right-hander Bryce Shafer is 2-1 with a 2.79 earned run average this season, allowing opponents to hit just .218 against him. Southpaw Jon Gulbransen has allowed just eight runs total this season in 31.1 innings pitched, and leads the Horizon League with a 2.01 ERA. He has 33 strikeouts while walking just seven in five appearances. Damon McCormick is 2-0 for the Brown and Gold with a 4.41 ERA. He has walked just two while the opposition is hitting just .292 against the right-hander.
Errors Prove Costly: Defensive miscues have led to quite a few opponent runs thus far this season. Valpo has made 33 errors on the year, leading to 44 unearned runs (2.6 per game). Every pitcher except Will Hagel and Tyler Deetjen have fallen victim, as those two are the only hurlers not to allow an unearned run yet this year.
O’Gara Rips the Ball: Ryan O’Gara is sixth in the Horizon League hitting .400 on the season. The Crusader first baseman has a league-leading 28 hits, including eight for extra bases. He leads the team with three homers and has driven home 16 runs. O’Gara has hit safely in 14 of the 17 games this season, including each of the first 12 games this year. He has eight multi-hit efforts already, including a 6-for-6 performance at Jacksonville as well as five multi-RBI games.
Gaedele Drives Home Runs: Kyle Gaedele leads the conference with 22 runs batted in on the year, and is hitting .480 (12-for-25) with runners in scoring position. He has driven home all six runners on third base with less than two outs this year, and has nine two-out RBIs. Gaedele has eight multi-RBI games in the first 17 contests, including a four RBI effort against Oklahoma.
Shafer Nearing Career Top-10 Lists: Bryce Shafer needs just three more victories to move into a tie with eight others for 10th place on the Valpo career win list. He currently has 13 victories in two-plus seasons with the Brown and Gold. Shafer also needs just 24 more strikeouts to match Sean Galiher’s 10th place career total of 180. Shafer enters the weekend with 156 strikeouts.
Pinch-Hitting Success: Valpo pinch-hitters are batting .333 this season. They are 4-for-12 coming off of the bench.
Hitting Streaks: Ryan O’Gara has the season’s longest hitting streak at 12 for the Crusaders. The streak actually reached 14 straight games if you include the final two games from last 2009. Kyle Gaedele ran his hitting streak to nine earlier this year as well. Justin Frane enters this weekend with the longest active streak, having hit safely in his last four games.
Miller a Preseason All-American: Closer Jarad Miller was named to the Louisville Slugger NCAA Division I Preseason All-American Third Team as well as the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award initial watch list. He earned Third Team All-America honors as a sophomore last year. With two saves this season, Miller now has a school-record 28 for his career.
Win #1100: Valparaiso picked up the 1,100th career victory in school history earlier this season with its 17-13 triumph over Saint Bonaventure on March 2.
O’Gara Earns Player of the Week Honors: Ryan O’Gara was named the Horizon League’s Batter of the Week on March 1 after hitting .563 (9-for-16) with two doubles, a homer, four runs scored, and seven runs batted in at the Jacksonville Tournament. He also posted an .875 slugging percentage.
Valpo Tabbed Fifth: The Crusaders were picked to finish fourth in the Horizon League preseason poll, according to the league’s head coaches. Valpo finished fourth in the regular season last year as well. Wright State is the preseason favorite this year after winning the Horizon League Tournament and earning a NCAA Tournament berth last year. Last year’s regular season champion UIC is tabbed second followed by Milwaukee and Valpo.
Horizon League Tournament Comes to Northwest Indiana: Valparaiso will host the 2010 Horizon League Baseball Championship May 26-30 at U.S. Steel Yard in Gary, Ind. The double elimination tournament will feature the top six teams in the conference based upon regular season play.