Oakland (5-19, 3-8 Horizon)
Valparaiso (10-17, 6-5 Horizon)
Fri. Apr. 10 - Lundeen (L) (2-3, 4.74) vs. Hager (L) (2-1, 5.23), 3:00 pm CT
Sat. Apr. 11 - Losi (R) (2-1, 4.68) vs. Dehn (R) (1-2, 4.26) 12:00 pm CT
Sun. Apr. 12 - Fritze (R) (1-3, 4.24) vs. Green (R) (1-4, 7.11) 12:00 pm CT
This Week in Crusader Baseball: After playing their last five away from Emory G. Bauer Field, the Crusaders return home to host the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in a three-game series beginning Friday. Valpo was slated to square off against Toledo at home on Tuesday, but a gloomy weather forecast forced the cancellation of that tilt. The rainout was the sixth of the season thus far for the Brown and Gold. Nevertheless, Friday begins an enticing stretch of the schedule that has the Crusaders playing 15 of their next 20 contests at Emory G. Bauer Field.
Last Time Out: Spencer Mahoney slashed his ninth double of the season while Nolan Lodden boosted his season average to .365 thanks to a 2-for-4 day, but the Crusaders were unable to scratch a run across in a 6-0 loss to the Fighting Irish Wednesday night at Frank Eck Stadium in Notre Dame. Drew Hasler, the South Bend native, fired four shutout innings in relief of starter Connor Kaucic, who surrendered five runs - only two earned - in two innings on the bump. The shutout was Valpo’s third on the road against an instate rival this season.
On the Air: Brandon Vickrey (PxP), Andrew Stem (Color - Friday) and David Prokop (Color - Saturday, Sunday) will have the action live on WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso). Live stats will be available for all three games this weekend. 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 (2-3, 4.74) will seek to continue his dominance of the Golden Grizzlies on Friday afternoon. The Crusaders are 3-0 so far in series openers. Sophomore righty Mario Losi (2-1, 4.68) will get the ball in Saturday’s noon start. Losi has received 50 runs of support in his six starts. Junior RHP Ryan Fritze (1-3, 4.24) will close out the series for the Brown and Gold. Fritze has yielded more than three earned runs only once in seven starts.
Series Notes: Valpo leads the all-time series 22-16 over Oakland in a matchup that began in 1999. The Crusaders took two of three against the Golden Grizzlies at Emory G. Bauer Field last season. Oakland’s home games were snowed out. Despite having played 38 previous contests, April 10th is the earliest in the calendar year that the two teams have faced one another (Apr. 22nd, twice).
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: John Musachio is in his eighth season at the helm of the Oakland program, but 2015 represents his 10th overall with the Golden Grizzlies. He oversaw Oakland’s transition into the Horizon League in 2014 just two seasons after being named The Summit League Coach of the Year. Musachio became the school’s winningest skipper last season after capturing his 136th victory.
Horizon League Preseason Player of the Year Robby Enslen has been the most steady bat for a Golden Grizzly team that has been searching from some punch. The second baseman is batting .340 with a team-high seven doubles. Mike Brosseau (.266 BA) paces the team with three homers. Oakland has assembled a .330 slugging percentage through its first 24 games, a figure just higher than its .325 on-base percentage counterpart. Any further mention of deflated offensive numbers should be met with the disclaimer of the Golden Grizzlies’ titanic schedule. Oakland opened the season with a three-game set at #12 Florida State before traveling across the country to face a USC club that enters this weekend with a 25-7 record. If that wasn’t enough, the Grizz played two at perennial College World Series participant University of Arizona and engaged in a three-game series with Southern Mississipi..
Left-hander Jason Hager is the only Oakland hurler that has thrown more nine or more innings and has kept opposing batters below a .300 average. The Goden Grizzlies’ staff owns a 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (131 BBs, 131 Ks) while opponents have raked at a .343 clip against them. Saturday’s starting pitcher Aaron Dehn boasts the team’s lowest earned run average at 4.26, but the Kellogg Community College transfer has allowed 50 base runners in 25.1 IP. Freshman Nate Green will make his fifth start of the season on Sunday. He, too, has thrown 25.1 innings; however, 55 hitters have reached base against the righty.
It would behoove the Crusaders to get into Oakland’s bullpen: nine relievers possess ERAs over 7.00. Expect Valpo to have the green light if and when baserunners get aboard. Opponents have stolen 58 bases in 67 attempts (86.6%). On the flip side, Oakland has been successful just 14 times on 30 tries (46.7%).
Driftless Drivel: Oakland has played just two homes games thus far...in Dalton Lundeen’s two starts against the Grizz last season, he allowed just one run in 17 2/3 innings while striking out 17 batters...Spencer Mahoney, who owns 118 career walks (2nd all-time), needs 19 more to tie Marc Waite’s record...Golden Grizzly OF Brett Impemba’s father, Mario, is the play-by-play announcer for the Detroit Tigers...no Oakland batter has drawn more than eight walks.