Valparaiso (25-21, 17-7 Horizon)
Game #47 vs. North Central (20-17, 9-11 CCIW)
Tuesday, May 8, 3 p.m. CDT
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.
Game #48 vs. Ball State (11-32, 6-15 MAC)
Wednesday, May 9, 3 p.m. CDT
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso returns home to Emory G. Bauer Field for a pair of midweek contests to open a nine-game homestand wrapping up the regular season. The Crusaders host North Central on Tuesday afternoon before entertaining Ball State on Wednesday. Valpo is looking to extend its five-game home winning streak.
On the Air: Both games this week can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at valpoathletics.com. Live stats will be available through valpoathletics.com for each game this week as well.
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson, the 16th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his sixth season at the helm of the Crusaders and has a 145-178 (.449) record both for his career as well as at Valpo. Woodson ranks fourth in school history for career wins by a head coach. A member of the Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Champion team, he has also managed in the minor leagues through the AAA level.
Probable Starters: Ben Mahar (RHP, 1-3, 4.40) will make his third start of the season for the Crusaders on Tuesday afternoon against North Central’s Connor Brown (LHP, 2-2, 4.38). Will Robinson (RHP, 3-2, 5.54) will take the hill for Valpo on Wednesday against Ball State while the Cardinals will counter with Nestor Bautista (LHP, 1-5, 10.27).
Series Notes: Valparaiso and North Central will be meeting on the diamond for the first time ever. Ball State holds a 35-27-1 record all-time against the Crusaders, dating back to 1948. The two schools have not met since the 2006 season when the Cardinals posted a 31-19 win over Valpo on April 4 in Muncie, Ind. Ball State has won six straight meetings between the two schools with Valpo’s last victory coming on April 19, 2001 at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valpo wrapped up a 7-1 road trip with a midweek victory at Notre Dame before taking two of three at Wright State over the weekend. On Wednesday the Crusaders scored four runs in the fourth and added three more in the seventh on the way to a 7-4 victory over the Fighting Irish. In Friday’s series opener at Wright State, the Crusaders rallied for deficits of 3-0 and 11-7, scoring five times in the top of the eighth for a 12-11 win. The Raiders scored a run in the eighth on Saturday to post a 3-2 victory before the Crusaders wrapped up the weekend with a 4-3 victory on Sunday, scoring single tallies in each of the first four innings.
Scouting North Central: The Cardinals have dropped three straight after falling in both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday at North Park. Sam Carius leads the way for North Central batting .342 while Joe Turek is hitting at a .336 clip with five home runs and 44 runs batted in. As a team the Cardinals are hitting .281 with the pitching staff posting a 4.03 earned run average.
Scouting Ball State: The Cardinals have lost six straight games after being swept in a three-game series by Western Michigan at home over the weekend. Sean Godfrey leads Ball State batting .286 as the Cardinals are hitting .243 as a team this season. The Ball State pitching staff has posted a 5.90 ERA.
Wormington Named Horizon League Pitcher of the Week: Kyle Wormington earned Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors after leading Valpo to a 4-3 victory in the series finale at Wright State. The junior right-hander went seven-plus innings, allowing just two earned runs and nine hits. He did not walk anyone and struck out four.
Horizon League Race Tightens: Valparaiso pulled into a tie for first place with Wright State after winning two of three games from the Raiders last weekend in Dayton. More importantly, the Crusaders have a 4.5 game lead over Milwaukee with six to play in the race for the all important first round bye in the Horizon League Tournament, which goes to the top two finishers in the regular season.
Best Finish Ever Locked Up: Valpo can finish no worse than third place in the Horizon League, which marks the Crusaders’ best conference finish since joining the league prior to the 2008 season. Valpo finished sixth in its first year in the league before placing fourth each of the last three seasons.
A Long Road Back: Valpo fell 10 games under the .500 mark on April 3 after a loss at Western Michigan, but has battled back to move four games over the .500 mark after winning 17 of its last 20 games overall.
Hagel Has Big Week: Will Hagel hit safely in all four games last week, batting .467 (7-for-15) with four runs scored and four runs batted in against Notre Dame and Wright State. The fifth-year senior had a double in each game of the weekend series against Wright State, driving home three in the opener, and posted a .556 on base percentage for the week drawing two walks and being hit by a pitch in addition to his seven hits.
Woodson Looks to Move into Third: Head coach Tracy Woodson needs two more victories to match Rick Ferchen (1982-1987) for third all-time at Valpo. Ferchen finished his career with 147 wins while Woodson enters the week at 145 career victories.
Wild Continues to Shine on the Mound in Conference Action: Kevin Wild is 5-2 with a 1.67 ERA and three complete games against conference teams this year. He has held conference foes to just a .183 batting average and has struck out 38 in 64.2 innings of work.
Pitching Staff is Solid: Valpo’s pitching staff leads the Horizon League with a 3.58 ERA this season, including a 2.96 mark in conference play. All three of Valpo’s weekend starters (Tyler Deetjen, 3.81, Kevin Wild, 2.39, and Kyle Wormington, 3.39) have ERAs that rank in the top-five in the Horizon League.
Deetjen on Career Charts: Tyler Deetjen ranks sixth in Valparaiso history having logged 277.1 innings of work on the mound this season. The southpaw just passed Tim Juran (1969-1972) and is just 4.1 innings behind Shawn Barker (1987-1990) for a spot in the top-five. Deetjen is 8.2 innings behind John Grippi (1984-1988) for fourth on the career charts and 14.1 innings in back of Tim Holmes (1984-1987) for a spot in the top three.
Leading After Eight: Valpo is a perfect 19-0 this season when taking a lead into the ninth inning.
No Free Passes Here: Valpo’s pitching staff ranks 12th in all of NCAA Division I through April 30 allowing just 2.39 walks per nine innings of work this year. Individually, Tyler Deetjen ranks fourth in the country with a 0.66 walk per nine inning rate, having issued just six free passes in 82.0 innings of work. Deetjen also ranks eighth in the country with a 8.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Quick Games: Valpo has played 17 games in 2:15 or less this season and 32 in under 2:30. The Crusaders are averaging just 2:20 for their nine-inning games this year, and 2:29 overall, including two four-hour plus games of 15 and 16 innings. Four times this year the Crusaders have played under four hours.
Closing Time: Jarad Miller has picked back up where he left off after missing the last year and a half with an injury, adding to his school record-setting career save total. Miller recorded two more saves at Wright State and now has seven for the year. His 35 career saves are 21 more than any other player in program history. Miller set the school’s single season record with 17 during his All-American season in 2009. He is tied with Wright State’s Michael Schum for most career saves in Horizon League history with 35.
Knocking Off Ranked Foes: Valpo’s 10-9, 10-inning victory over #4 Arkansas on Feb. 26 marked the highest ranked team the Crusaders have beaten since defeating #1 Notre Dame on April 25, 2001.
Valpo Earns Honorable Mention Team of the Week Honors: The Crusaders were one of 15 teams nationally recognized by College Baseball Insider for their play April 23-29, picking up Honorable Mention Team of the Week honors from the website. Valpo went 4-0 with a win at IPFW in addition to a three-game sweep at Milwaukee.
Hurlers Earn National Honor: Valpo’s pitching staff was named the National Pitching Staff of the Week on April 24 by insidepitching.com for their efforts against Indiana State and Butler. In four games the pitchers completed 43 innings of work. They allowed just four earned runs and 26 hits while striking out 29 opposing hitters.
Vavra Named Hitter of the Week: Tanner Vavra was named the Horizon League’s Batter of the Week on Feb. 27 after hitting .583 (7-for-12) in the three-game series against #4 Arkansas. Vavra had a pair of three-hit performances and had at least one hit in each game of the series. In addition, the junior posted a .667 on base percentage and was flawless in the field.
Horizon League Pitchers of the Week: Tyler Deetjen was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week for the first weekend of play after his opening day performance and then picked up his second weekly accolade on March 6. Kevin Wild has earned the award three times himself after being named Pitcher of the Week on March 26, April 9, and April 23.
Valpo Tabbed Third in 2012: Valparaiso has been picked to finish in third place in the annual Horizon League preseason coaches’ poll. Wright State, last year’s regular season and tournament champion, has been picked to repeat while UIC has been selected second. Valpo was picked just ahead of Milwaukee for third while Butler and Youngstown State round out the poll.
This and That: John Loeffler has reached base safely in 22 consecutive games ... Billy Cribbs has thrown out 47.6% of would-be Horizon League base stealers ... Elliott Martin is batting .372 in Horizon League action with 28 runs batted in ... Valpo is hitting .290 as a team with runners in scoring position while its opponents are batting just .254 in the same situation ... the Crusaders are outscoring opponents 75-49 from the seventh inning on ... Valpo has played 24 one run games (12-12) ... the Crusaders finished 7-1 on its last eight-game road trip.