Youngstown State (4-8, 1-2 Horizon)
Valparaiso (4-12, 1-2 Horizon)
Fri. Mar. 20 - Lundeen (L) (0-3, 4.76) vs. Quinlan (R) (2-1, 5.65), 1:00 pm CT
Sat. Mar. 21 - Fritze (R) (1-2, 4.58) vs. Carr (R) (0-2, 6.92) 11:00 am CT
Sat. Mar. 21 - Losi (R) (1-1, 5.91) vs. North (R) (0-0, 11.17) 2:30 pm CT
This Week in Crusader Baseball: The Crusaders will take Emory G. Bauer Field quicker than they imagined in 2015, playing Youngstown State in a “neutral” three-game series in Valparaiso. Field conditions at Eastwood Field were deemed unplayable early in the week so Valpo presented the next best opportunity. The Brown and Gold seek to rise above the .500 mark in Horizon League play with a strong showing.
Last Time Out: Valpo received a pair of big-time starting pitching efforts from a couple of underclassmen, but the offense did not comply as the Crusaders fell 4-0 at #24 Indiana and 2-0 at Purdue. Freshman Connor Kaucic limited one of the top Big Ten offenses to two earned runs over six-plus innings of work at Bart Kaufman Field Tuesday in Bloomington, but a slew of Hoosier pitchers shutout the Brown and Gold. On Wednesday, Ellis Foreman surrendered just two runs against the Boilermakers in Valpo’s first-ever trip to Alexander Field.
On the Air: Audio (Saturday Only)- Sports Juice (Online only; link is up at ValpoAthletics.com) - Tommy Mantice (PxP), Colin Terrill (Color). Live stats will be available for Saturday’s games only. In addition, ValpoGameday.com is a one-stop shop for live video, stats and social media interaction, all on the same page.
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 (0-3, 4.76) will open the series on the hill for the Crusaders in search of his first victory of the season. RHP Ryan Fritze (1-2, 4.58) will take the ball on Saturday. Sophomore righty Mario Losi (1-1, 5.91) will get the start for Valpo in the final game of the doubleheader.
Series Notes: Valpo holds a 49-17 strangehold over Youngstown State in a series that started in 1992 . The Crusaders have owned a resounding 25-3 advantage over the Penguins in the last 28 games; however YSU has won two since April 12th, 2014.
In the Other Dugout: Steve Gillspie is in his third season at the head of the Youngstown State program. He took over for Rich Pasquale following the 2013 season. Gillispie led a downtrodden 12-36 Youngstown State squad into the 2014 Horizon League Championship and swept its way to a berth into the NCAA Tournament. The upstart Penguins didn’t lay down in Bloomington; in fact, they eliminated the Indiana State Sycamores 5-2 before falling to a loaded Stanford squad 12-4 in an elimination game.
Newcomer Frank Califano is providing a shot in the arm of the Youngstown State offense. The transfer from Golden West CC in California leads the team in batting average, hits, runs batted in, and stolen bases. Alex Larivee is picking up where he left off last season, cranking two home runs, but striking out a team-high 15 times.
The Penguins’ pitching staff is working through a negative strikeout-to-walk ratio (65:53) stretch currently, but Friday starter Jeremy Quinlan represents one of four YSU hurlers with more strikeouts (11) than bases-on-balls (5). He’s hit a team-most five batters, and has surrendered eight extra-base hits. Saturday starter D.J. Carr is in search of his first win (0-2). The Chandler-Gilbert C.C. transfer has yielded 12 runs (10 earned) in 13 innings as a Penguin. Youngstown State will turn to Josh North (0-0, 11.17) in the second half of Saturday’s twinbill. The senior has made three starts in 2015, allowing 18 baserunners in 9 2/3 innings. North compiled a 3-0 record along with a 5.13 earned-run average a season ago. He kept opposing batters to a .263 batting average in 2014, but also surrendered 12 extra-base hits in 26 1/3 innings, including three home runs.
Youngstown State’s bullpen has improved immensely since the turn of the decade. Opponents are batting only .118 against senior right-hander Anthony Konders in six appearances. Ryan Krokos has flummoxed batters just as serviceably to the tune of a .211 opponents’ batting average. Senior left-hander Austin Lujalo has been called upon a season-high seven times by skipper Steve Gillispie. Lujalo has struck out three batters, but has walked seven. RHP Josh Fitch and LHP Joe King both have a save apiece fot the Penguins.
Driftless Drivel: Valparaiso is batting .278 versus right-handed pitching compared to .223 against lefties...Nolan Lodden is hitting a team-high .433 with runners on...Josh Clark is batting at a .350 (7-for-20) clip with two outs...opposing right-handed hitters have recorded a .362 average, but left-handers have been held to a .264 mark...the Crusaders have turned 18 double plays already this season; they've hit into just four...