Valparaiso (0-0, 0-0 Horizon)
San Diego State (0-0, 0-0 Mountain West)
Fri. Feb. 13th - Lundeen (L) (0-0, 0.00) vs. Derby (R) (0-0, 0.00) 8:00 pm
Sat. Feb. 14th - Fritze (R) (0-0, 0.00) vs. Seeburger (L) (0-0, 0.00) 3:00 pm
Sun. Feb. 15th - Losi (R) (0-0, 0.00) vs. Seyler (R) (0-0, 0.00) 2:00 pm
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso raises the curtain on the 2015 season Friday evening in Southern California. The San Diego State Aztecs will play host to the Brown and Gold in a three-game set at Tony Gwynn Stadium. The Crusaders won’t play their first home game until March 27th, the 25th game of the season. The Aztecs have been picked to finish second in the MWC.
Last Time Out: This series represents the opening weekend for the 2015 Crusaders.
On the Air: Live video streaming of Friday’s game only will be available free of charge through the Mountain Digital Network. Links to the live stats are also available at valpoathletics.com.
Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack, the 17th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his second season at the helm of the Crusaders. He led Valparaiso to 25 wins in his inaugural campaign, a school record for victories by a first-year skipper. 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, seven pitchers have gone on to play professional baseball including Bryce Shafer, Dallas Cawiezell, and Karch Kowalczyk who were selected in the MLB Draft.
Probable Starters: Junior LHP Dalton Lundeen (5-6, 1.94 in 2014) will take the ball in the first of the three-game series for the Crusaders. Junior RHP Ryan Fritze (8-2, 4.62 in JC in 2014) will make his Valparaiso debut on the hill in Saturday afternoon’s tilt. Sophomore right-hander Mario Losi (2-7, 4.05 in 2014) seeks to open 2015 on the right foot in Sunday’s matchup against the Aztecs.
Series Notes: Valparaiso and San Diego State have never met on the diamond. The Crusaders have won their season-opening series twice in the last three years.
Looking Back: Valpo finished 2014 with a 25-28 record overall and a 12-12 mark in the Horizon League. Sophomore Dalton Lundeen compiled one of the best seasons on the mound of any lefthander in college baseball, registering HL-lows in earned run average (1.94), walks-plus-hits per inning pitched (1.02), and walks per nine innings (1.30). Offensively, Chris Manning racked up 61 hits as he boosted his career total to 264, good for second place all-time in school history.
In the Other Dugout: San Diego State is coming off a 2014 campaign that yielded a 42-21 record and an NCAA Tournament berth. Any discussion of San Diego State Aztec baseball would be remiss without mentioning Tony Gwynn and his contributions to the local baseball community. Widely regarded as one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game, Gwynn coached the Aztecs for 12 seasons before his premature passing last June. Longtime assistant Mark Martinez was subsequently named the fifth head coach in SDSU history. A Southern Californian through and through, he played 20 seasons with the San Diego Padres, logging 3,141 career hits. Gwynn was inducted into Cooperstown in 2007.
The Aztecs will have a 2013 Lousville Slugger Freshman All-American recipient on the hill in their season opener Friday. Bubba Derby, a former closer, has moved into the SDSU rotation after garnering First Team All-Mountain West honors last season. The right-hander whiffed exactly 100 batters in 105 1/3 innings of work while recording an 8-4 record and a 3.08 earned run average in 2014. Derby did unleash 17 wild pitches last spring. Brett Seeburger, San Diego State’s Saturday starter, made 15 appearances a year ago with three starts. Seeburger issued just nine walks in 35 2/3 innings, but batters tallied a .304 average versus the lefty. Mark Seyler, an eight-game winner in 2014, will close out the series on the mound for the Aztecs. The junior finished two outs shy of the 100-inning plateau last year while maintaining a sub-4.00 ERA (3.90).
Junior Ty France is expected to carry the San Diego State offense in 2015. The third baseman was named a National College Baseball Writers Association first team preseason All-American. France torched opposing pitchers to the tune of a .356 batting average, 23 extra-base hits, 45 runs batted in and a .450 on-base percentage as a sophomore. Seby Zavala is coming off a sophomore campaign that saw the outfielder post a .297 average with 13 doubles, two triples, and two bombs. San Diego State graduated three .300 hitters including Brad Haynal, who launched 12 home runs in 2014. Senior Steven Pallares, a two-way player, is the only returner with more than seven stolen bases. The Aztecs stole 77 bases last year, good for 49th in the nation, but 45 of those graduated.
Transferring You to Valpo: The Crusaders welcome 11 newcomers into the mix in 2015, seven of which are junior college transfers. .
Notable Alumni: San Diego State has graduated an impressive list of professional baseball talent, most notably All-Star pitcher Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals. Longtime Arizona Diamondback first baseman Travis Lee was an Aztec from 1994-1996. Former Chicago White Sox reliever - and current Diamondback - Addison Reed is the most recent SDSU grad to play in the majors.
Et Cetera: Valpo was 12-1 last season when leading after two innings...opponents went 10-4 against the Brown and Gold when starting a lefty...the Crusaders finished with a 13-16 nonconference record a season ago...Valpo was shutout on seven different occasions in 2014...Spencer Mahoney’s 0.77 base on balls per game average ranked 24th in the country last year.