Valpo Well-Represented as Horizon League Announces Baseball Awards
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Valpo Well-Represented as Horizon League Announces Baseball Awards

The Horizon League announced its baseball awards Tuesday and the Crusaders tied first-place Milwaukee with ten players earning accolades.

Karch Kowalczyk (Peru, Ill./La Salle-Peru HS) was named Relief Pitcher of the Year for his work out of the closer role this season for Valparaiso. 

"Karch battled through injuries early on in the year to be a two-way player and he fought through to be the arm that we needed to close out games," head coach Tracy Woodson.

Kowalczyk's nine saves and 0.42 earned run average were both best in the Horizon League. In 21 2/3 innings pitched, the junior surrendered just one run on eleven hits. He walked six and struck out sixteen batters. 

Spencer Mahoney (La Grange Park, Ill./Lyons Township HS), Chris Manning (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro HS), and Andrew Bain (Evansville, Ind./Park Tudor HS) were all named First Team All-League.

Mahoney hit .325 in 23 Horizon League games. A Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American last season, Mahoney recorded an .801 on-base plus slugging-percentage and stole three bases.

"I'm excited that he's First Team back-to-back years. He started out slow, but really picked it up during conference play," Woodson remarked.

Manning had his best all-around season as a Crusader this spring while batting .318. His 13 extra-base hits were a team high. Manning tallied a .979 fielding percentage while patrolling right field for Valparaiso. He tied teammate Tanner Vavra for the stolen base lead on the club with eleven.

"After his first two years, he's had his best year as a junior. Chris just keeps getting better," Woodson said.

As a utility player selection, Bain hit .301 overall this season for the Crusaders, and .343 in League play. Bain walked more (18) than he struck out (16) and he's the 66th toughest player in Division I baseball to strike out with one K per 13.1 at-bats. His nine doubles were tied for the team lead.

"I'm happy to see Andrew got recognized after four years of hard work to help this program. He's been a constant source of toughness for our club," Woodson said.

In addition to earning Relief Pitcher of the Year recognition, Kowalczyk was named to the Second Team All-League as a pitcher along with Cole Webb (Tulsa, Okla./Coffeyville CC), first baseman John Loeffler (Burnsville, Minn./Des Moines Area CC) and second baseman Tanner Vavra (Menomonie, Wis./Madison CC). 

Webb was the ace of the Horizon League-best Crusader pitching staff. He carries a misleading 4-7 win-loss record. His 3.20 earned run average is more indicative of the quality Valpo has received from the junior college transfer. Webb's ERA, innings pitched (84 1/3), opponents' batting average (.275), and strike outs (53) are all in the top 10 in the Horizon League.

Despite a League batting average (.291) higher than counterpart Alex Grunenwald's on-base percentage (.279), Loeffler was named Second Team All-League at first base. Grunenwald had significantly better power numbers than Loeffler, but the Valpo first baseman's on-base percentage of .411 was seventh-best of all Horizon League batters. The senior led the team in RBI with 38 and his 29 walks were also a club best.

A First Team All-League selection last season, Vavra was edged out by Player of the Year Michael Porcaro this season. One of the more complete players in recent memory at Valpo, Vavra led the Crusaders in runs scored (39), hits (66), hit by pitches (17), and on-base percentage (.424) in 2013. His .337 batting average was third in the League, just .001 behind Drew Dosch for second.

Webb, fellow starting pitcher Chris DeBoo (Chula Vista, Calif./Cal State-Northridge), and Bryce Hara (Irvine, Calif./Irvine Valley College) were also named to the All-Newcomer Team. 

DeBoo, a fifth-year senior, represented consistency in the weekend rotation for Valpo. His 14 starts are tied for the 14th-most in Division I and his 1.56 walks per nine innings pitched is 65th-lowest in the country. DeBoo has crafted a 2.80 ERA in his last four starts.

Hara provided plus-range in center field for Valpo this spring as well as a .265 batting average and .382 on-base percentage in 24 Horizon League games. The junior college transfer stole seven bases on the season and smacked five sacrifice flies.

"I'm very excited with the number of selections we have coming back. A lot of these guys are going to be back next season," Woodson concluded.

The full awards are listed below:

First Team All-League
P – Jake Long, Milwaukee
P – Tomas Michelson, UIC
C – Garrett Gray, Wright State
1B – Alex Grunenwald, UIC
2B – Michael Porcaro, Milwaukee
SS – Spencer Mahoney, Valparaiso
3B – Drew Dosch, Youngstown State
OF – Kieston Greene, Wright State
OF – Chris Manning, Valparaiso
OF – Derek Peake, Milwaukee
DH – Will Fadness, Milwaukee
UTIL – Andrew Bain, Valparaiso

Second Team All-League
P – Karch Kowalczyk, Valparaiso
P – Cole Webb, Valparaiso
P – Mike Schneider, Milwaukee
C – Josh White, Youngstown State
1B – John Loeffler, Valparaiso
2B – Tanner Vavra, Valparaiso
SS – Phil Lipari, Youngstown State
3B – Joe Betcher, UIC
OF – Tyler Detmer, UIC
OF – Jonathan Capasso, Milwaukee
OF – Luke Meeteer, Milwaukee
DH – Ryan Boss, UIC
UTIL – Ryan Solberg, Milwaukee

All-Newcomer Team 
P – Ian Lewandowski, UIC
P – Cole Webb, Valparaiso
P – Lance Horner, Youngstown State
P – Chris DeBoo, Valparaiso
C – Mitch Ghelfi, Milwaukee
C – Josh White, Youngstown State
1B – Pat Wilson, Milwaukee
SS – Andres Ortegano, UIC
OF – Nick DiNello, Youngstown State
OF – Mark Fowler, Wright State
OF – Kieston Greene, Wright State
OF – Bryce Hara, Valparaiso

Player of the Year: Michael Porcaro, Milwaukee
Pitcher of the Year: Jake Long, Milwaukee
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Karch Kowalczyk, Valparaiso
Newcomer of the Year: Mitch Ghelfi, Milwaukee
Coach of the Year: Scott Doffek, Milwaukee