Valparaiso (21-26, 15-11 Horizon)
Wright State (35-14, 18-8 Horizon)
Thu. May 14 - Lundeen (L) (4-6, 4.31) vs. Mamer (R) (3-2, 2.68) 11:00 am CT
Fri. May 15 - Losi (R) (5-2, 4.45) vs. Scholtens (R) (6-4, 2.82) 5:30 pm CT
Sat. May 16 - Fritze (R) (3-5, 3.95) vs. Swaney (R) (3-2, 4.50) 12:00 pm CT
This Week in Crusader Baseball: With the Horizon League regular season wrapping up this weekend, four of the six seeds have yet to be determined for next week’s postseason tournament. A Valpo sweep of Wright State would earn the Crusaders the No. 2 spot - and a highly-coveted first-round bye. At 13-13 in League play, Milwaukee is still in the Brown and Gold’s rear-view mirror for third place. Nevertheless, Valpo is in search of just its second-ever road series win in Dayton.
Last Time Out: After trailing 6-0 following the top of the 3rd, Valpo managed to put the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the 9th. However, Purdue reliever Matt Frawley recorded the final two outs of the game via strikeout to preserve a 6-4 Boilermaker victory. Spencer Mahoney led the Crusader offense with three hits while the bullpen fired seven shutout innings in relief of Connor Kaucic.
On the Air: ESPN3 (Video) will carry live coverage of all three games this weekend. Live stats will also be available throughout the 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 (4-6, 4.31) will go for his third straight five-win season in Thursday afternoon’s opener. Lundeen is 4-1 lifetime against the Raiders with a 1.91 ERA. Sophomore righty Mario Losi (5-2, 4.45) will get the ball in Friday’s start. Losi notched his fifth win of 2015 last Saturday versus Youngstown State. RHP Ryan Fritze (3-5, 3.95) will close out the series for Valpo. Fritze, the reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week, fired seven shutout innings versus the Penguins this past Sunday.
Series Notes: Wright State leads the all-time series 28-17 over Valpo in a matchup that began in 1992. Since the beginning of the 2012 campaign, both teams have gone 11-11 against each other. Furthermore, of the last eight regular season games between the two clubs, only one has been decided by more than two runs (11-1 Valpo win at WSU on 5/9/14).
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: Greg Lovelady is in his second season as head coach of the Wright State program. He took over for Rob Cooper following the 2013 season. The former Miami Hurricane led the Raiders to a 35-22 overall campaign highlighted by a 25-4 mark in Horizon League play last year. As a result, he was named the league’s Coach of the Year following his inaugural season.
Wright State enters this series with an HL-best 3.45 earned run average. Senior Luke Mamer will open the three-game set on Thursday afternoon. The 6’5’’ right-hander has issued only seven walks in 57 innings, the 19th-lowest walk rate in the nation. Mamer was primarily a reliever during his tenure in Dayton, but a season-ending injury to Robby Sexton enhanced Mamer’s workload. Right-hander Jesse Scholtens is slated to return to the weekend rotation in Friday night’s game. Scholtens is 6-4 overall, 4-4 in league play. The Crusaders touched up the Diablo Valley JC transfer for five runs in 4 1/3 innings earlier this season. Trevor Swaney will get the ball in Saturday’s series finale. The righty sat out last season with a redshirt, but went 4-0 as a freshman in 2013. Swaney surrendered three runs in two-plus innings at Emory G. Bauer Field back in March.
The Raider offense boasts five regulars with batting averages over the .310 mark. Senior Mark Fowler has scored a team-high 43 runs while producing a .337/.407/.484 slash line to go with 15 stolen bases. Newcomer Mitch Roman has accumulated 71 hits (same as Spencer Mahoney), and Gabe Snyder has driven in 41 runs while collecting 17 doubles. Ryan Fucci has had an all-or-nothing season at the dish. He’s clobbered 11 home runs, but has piled up a league-most 65 strikeouts.
Driftless Drivel: Dalton Lundeen owns a 2-1 record, a 1.82 ERA, and a 22:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the state of Ohio...three Crusaders - Jeff Edwards (19), Spencer Mahoney (16), Giovanni Garbella (10) have reached base in at least ten straight games...opposing base-stealers have been successful in just 11 of 20 attempts versus Wright State in 26 HL games...Valpo is batting .285 against righties this season, compared to .261 versus left-handers...opponents are batting under .300 versus Crusader pitching for the first time this season...the Raiders are 36-7 at Nischwitz Stadium since the beginning of the 2014 season...opposing batters are 1-for-20 (.050) against Jason Condit with runners on base...Valparaiso is 38-17 (.691) in the month of May since 2012...the Crusaders are 19-0 when leading after the 7th inning...Wright State assistant coach Justin Parker is the brother of MLB pitcher Jarrod...at 7 hours and 27 minutes, last weekend’s series versus Youngstown State was the shortest three-game set of the season for the Brown and Gold...Wright State has won 7-1 three different times in its last five games.