Milwaukee (26-15, 10-10 Horizon)
Valparaiso (17-22, 12-8 Horizon)
Fri. May 1 - Lundeen (L) (3-5, 5.14) vs. Keller (R) (3-4, 3.36) 3:00 pm CT
Sat. May 2 - Losi (R) (4-1, 4.27) vs. Pavlovich (R) (4-1, 3.21) 12:00 pm CT
Sun. May 3 - Fritze (R) (2-4, 4.27) vs. Langley (L) (4-1, 2.82) 12:00 pm CT
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Milwaukee brings one of the league’s best pitching staffs into Emory G. Bauer Field this weekend for a key Horizon League series. Two games separate the Crusaders and Panthers for third place in the Horizon League standings. Furthermore, two games separate Valpo from second-place Wright State within a crowded leaderboard. Milwaukee is in search of its first win at Emory G. Bauer Field since May of 2011.
Last Time Out: A barrage of two-out hits catapulted Northern Illinois to a 5-3 win over Valpo on Wednesday afternoon at Ralph McKinzie Field in DeKalb. Crusader starter Drew Hasler was coasting through the sixth inning until four straight singles resulted in a 2-0 deficit ballooning to 5-0. Dustin Beasley (2-for-4) recorded the Brown and Gold's lone extra-base hit, a double in the visitor's half of the second inning.
On the Air: Brandon Vickrey (PxP) and Tommy Mantice (Color) will have the call live on UStream on Friday’s game. Mantice (PxP) and Aimee Van Der Heyden (Color) will have the action on UStream on Saturday’s game. WVUR (95.1 FM, Valparaiso) will carry Sunday’s game. Live stats will also 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 (3-5, 5.14) will seek to rebound from his shortest outing as a Crusader last Friday in the series opener. Sophomore righty Mario Losi (4-1, 4.27) will get the ball in Saturday’s noon start. Losi is 2-0 with a 2.86 earned run average this season at home. Junior RHP Ryan Fritze (2-4, 4.27) will close out the series for the Brown and Gold. Fritze held the Panthers to two runs over five innings in his last start at Milwaukee.
Series Notes: Milwaukee leads the all-time series 34-24 over Valpo in a matchup that began in 1990. Despite the 10-games-over-.500 mark posted by the Panthers, Valpo is 12-7 versus UWM since the beginning of the 2012 season. Milwaukee took two of three from the Crusaders in the team’s previous meeting this season at Henry Aaron Field, however.
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: Scott Doffek is in his ninth season at the helm of the Milwaukee program, but 2015 represents his 21st overall at UWM. He enters this weekend 242-241-1. Doffek led Milwaukee to a regular-season title in 2013 as well as an NCAA Regional appearance in 2010.
Two of the top-three bats in the Horizon League reside in Milwaukee, including Sam Koenig, the odds-on favorite for Player of the Year. At .405, Koenig is the lone player with a batting average north of .400. His 12 home runs and 17 doubles also pace the HL’s power department. He’s racked up 119 total bases, 31 more than Nate Palace, who sits in second place. Mitch Ghelfi has hashed out a .362 average with 14 extra-base hits in 105 at-bats. The former Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American has thrown out 50% (9-for-18) of would-be base stealers behind the plate. Junior outfielder Luke Meeteer has spearheaded the Panthers’ rabid stolen base efforts. Meeteer has swiped 28 bases on 32 attempts, good for a remarkable 87.5% success rate. As a team, Milwaukee has successfully stolen a Horizon League-most 71 bases.
The Panther pitching staff - particularly the starters - has been a driving force behind the team’s 11-games-over-.500 mark. Owners of a superb 3.70 earned-run average to date, Milwaukee hurlers have allowed fewer than a hit per inning while leading the HL with 313 strikeouts. Junior Brian Keller will open the series on the hill. The right-hander has made ten starts spanning 67 innings. He possesses 52 strikesouts opposite 11 walks. Senior Joe Pavlovich has been a nice addition to the Milwaukee pitching staff. He pitched three seasons at UW-Oshkosh before attaining graduate transfer status. Pavlovich is 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA, but he has walked 29 batters in 61 2/3 innings. The righty has also served up six homers. Valpo will get its first extended look at southpaw Justin Langley this season. Langley (4-1, 2.82) has limited opponents to a .199 average so far. while averaging over a strikeout per inning (49 Ks in 44 2/3 IP). Langley struck out 12 Crusaders over seven shutout innings last April at Henry Aaron Field.
Driftless Drivel: Spencer Mahoney enters the weekend with 198 career hits...UWM lefty Mike Schneider has picked off six runners in just 9 1/3 innings pitched...Mario Losi and Ryan Fritze have both allowed 25 earned runs in 52 2/3 innings this season...the Crusaders are still in search of their first pinch-hit of the season (0-26)...10 of Shea Molitor’s 14 runs batted in have come with two outs...right-handed batters have just two hits in 23 at-bats (.087) against LHP Chet Joslyn...Mark Johnson is 4-for-6 in his career against Brian Keller....junior Nolan Lodden is batting .434 (23-for-53) with runners in scoring position...lefties are batting just .187 (14-for-75) against Fritze while righties have raked at a clip of .358 (49-for-137)...versus Valpo’s weekend starters, batters have reached base at a .480 pace (85 times in 177 opportunities)...the Crusaders have opened May with a win in each of their last five seasons.