Youngstown State (5-21, 0-5 Horizon)
Valparaiso (11-15, 3-3 Horizon)
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.
Fri. April 11th - Webb (4-2, 3.89) vs. Shoemake (0-4, 7.82) 3:00 pm
Sat. April 12th - Lundeen (2-2, 2.57) vs. O’Brien (1-4, 8.00) 12:00 pm
Sun. April 13th - Foreman (1-3, 6.68) vs. Manuppelli (0-4, 13.25) 12:00 pm
On Deck for Crusader Baseball: The Crusaders look to get back in the top half of the Horizon League standings as the Youngstown State Penguins waddle into town this weekend for a three-game series. Valpo took two of three at home against the first-place Wright State Raiders last weekend. The Brown and Gold seek to continue their Horizon League success at Emory G. Bauer Field, a ballpark where they’ve gone 23-7 since the beginning of league play in 2012.
Last Time Out: Northwestern put up crooked numbers in each of the first five innings Tuesday in Evanston en route to a 12-5 victory over the Crusaders. Michael Morman, Jeff Edwards, Mark Johnson, and Ray Bartolomucci each had two-hit days in the losing effort. Valpo scored two runs in its half of the seventh to end the twelve-run Wildcat surge.
On the Air: Brandon Vickrey (PxP) and Joey Basil (color) will have the call on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) for Friday’s game. A link to the live stats for all three games is available at valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack, the 17th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his first season at the helm of the Crusaders. Schmack, a member of the 2003 Detroit Tigers, served as pitching coach/associate head coach at Valpo for seven seasons prior to his promotion. Under Schmack’s tutelage, six pitchers went on to play professional baseball including Bryce Shafer and Dallas Cawiezell who were selected in the MLB Draft.
Probable Starters: Senior RHP Cole Webb (4-2, 3.89) will take the ball in the first of the three-game series for the Crusaders. LHP Dalton Lundeen (2-2, 2.57) will toe the slab in Saturday’s matchup versus the Penguins, a team he held to two earned runs in 10 innings last season. Redshirt freshman right-hander Ellis Foreman (1-3, 6.68) seeks to get back on track in Sunday afternoon’s series finale.
Series Notes: Valparaiso leads the all-time series 44-15 over Youngstown State. The Crusaders have won 17 of the last 18 contests versus the Penguins dating back to 2010. Valpo won all four games in ‘11, swept the season series in 2012 before defeating YSU one last time in the Horizon League Conference Tournament in Chicago, and lost just once in six meetings in 2013. Valparaiso is a dominating 26-5 (.839) all-time versus Youngstown State at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Looking Back: Valparaiso finished 2013 with a 32-28 record overall and a 13-11 mark in the Horizon League. The Crusaders tied with UIC for second place in the regular season but went 3-0 in the Horizon League Tournament in Youngstown to claim their second straight automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. After losing a 5-4 heartbreaker to #13 Indiana on the Hoosiers’ home turf, Valpo eliminated the Florida Gators 5-4 the following day for its first win in an NCAA Regional game since 1966.
Scouting the Opposition: Youngstown State currently sits at 5-21 overall. The Penguins’ lone road win came in Athens, Ohio on March 26th versus the Bobcats. They’ve most recently scored home wins over 2012 College World Series participant Kent State (4/8) and Atlantic Coast Conference foe Pittsburgh (4/2). Youngstown State’s other two wins came at the expense of Appalachian State and Eastern Michigan. The Penguins are in search of their first winning season since the 2005 campaign.
Through last Sunday, the Penguins were tied for the Horizon League lead in triples with five, but otherwise are batting .253 as a team through 26 games. Senior catcher Josh White’s 16 runs driven in are a team-high while Phil Lipari’s two homers pace the Penguins’ power department. Freshman Alex Larivee is atop YSU’s leaderboard in batting average at .309, but strikeouts have been the Achilles’ heel for the California native (29 K in 81 ABs). Head coach Steve Gillispie appears to still be in search of a consistent starting lineup as fourteen players have received eight or more starts.
Pitching has held Youngstown State back this season. The Penguins’ team earned run mark of 8.04 is the third lowest in the nation. Brendon Shoemake, a juco transfer, carries a 7.82 ERA, the lowest of any starting pitcher with more than one start. Patrick O’Brien, YSU’s Saturday starter, has struggled out of the gate having allowed 47 hits in 27 innings. The senior was the best weekend starter for the Penguins last season (4.24 ERA in Horizon League play) but he’s allowed 14 runs in his last 9 2/3 innings. After enjoying a successful 2013 season closing ball games, Nic Manuppelli was thrust into a starting role in 2014. The move has resulted in the senior compiling a 13.25 ERA and a 2.84 WHIP in 18 1/3 innings. The right-hander has uncorked nine wild pitches and plunked nine batters in that time. Manuppelli has yet to see the sixth inning in any of his five starts.
In the Dugout: Steve Gillispie is in his 2nd season as head coach of the Penguins. He played collegiately at Northwest Missouri State and Fort Hays State before serving on the Nebraska, Jacksonville State, UAB, and Utah coaching staffs. Gillispie also spent three seasons as a scout in the Phillies organization.
Et Cetera: In games they’ve won this season, the Crusader pitching staff has a 2.48 ERA. When they’ve lost, that number is 6.60...Cole Webb and Dalton Lundeen combined to go 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA in their four starts versus YSU in 2013...the Brown and Gold are slugging just .238 through six HL games so far...Spencer Mahoney is the only Crusader with a batting average above .240 in league games...Valpo has been outscored 61-30 in innings 6-9.