Five Valparaiso University baseball players received recognition on Tuesday as the Horizon League announced its all-league teams and league award winners.
Seniors James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos [Golden West]) and Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian) were named to the all-league second team. Stea filled an outfield slot, while Hanson earned the honor at designated hitter.
The Crusaders had three players named to the Horizon League all-freshman team – pitcher Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge), pitcher Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) and outfielder/DH Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill. / Naperville North).
The three all-freshman team honorees are the most of any Horizon League club. This marks the first time the Crusaders have had three all-freshman team players since 2013 and the seventh straight year Valpo has had multiple players earn places on the all-freshman squad.
Stea has made a strong impact in his two seasons with the program after coming in as a junior college transfer. He ranks among the top stolen base threats in the Horizon League and is in the top five in program history for stolen bases in a single season this year. Despite playing only two seasons in a Valpo uniform, the senior ranks eighth in program history in career stolen bases. He hit a go-ahead grand slam against Oakland and homered in both games of a doubleheader sweep at Milwaukee. The California native was a member of the 2016 Horizon League All-Tournament Team, helping the Crusaders to an appearance in the championship game. He’s inserted his name into the Valpo record books this season by breaking the program record for hit by pitch in a single year. Stea hit .287 with seven home runs, 30 RBIs, a .420 OBP and 21 stolen bases during the regular season.
Hanson started his Crusader career by appearing in 14 games and made seven starts as a freshman for the 2013 Horizon League champion Crusaders, a team that beat Florida in the NCAA Regional. He made 40 starts in 2014 as the team’s catcher, then sat out 2015 with a medical redshirt. In his return to the diamond last season, Hanson hit .327 in 20 games. Now, he’s enjoying his most productive offensive season in a Crusader uniform as a fifth-year senior, shattering season career watermarks in a slew of offensive categories. Hanson hit .294 in the regular season with one home run and 30 RBIs. He compiled a .316 average over 28 Horizon League games.
Rhodehouse is one of five pitchers in the league with three or more saves in league play. The rookie righty picked up the win in his most recent outing, delivering four perfect innings out of the bullpen against UIC on May 14 to earn Horizon League Pitcher of the Week accolades. Rhodehouse finished the regular season with a team-best 2.51 ERA in 32 1/3 innings while racking up 39 strikeouts against 10 walks over 24 relief appearances.
Tieman (4-1) ranks sixth in the Horizon in league-only ERA at 2.80. Tieman’s 51 total strikeouts rank ninth in the league. Despite being moved into the starting rotation midway through the season, the Illinois native is third in the league with seven saves.
Barczi batted .343 in league play, the top average in Horizon League competition on the team. Overall, he’s hitting .290 with one home run and 14 RBIs.
The Crusaders begin the Horizon League Tournament on Wednesday at noon CT against Oakland in a single-elimination first-round game at UIC’s Granderson Stadium. Links to live video and stats can be found on ValpoAthletics.com.
Player of the Year: Rob Calabrese, UIC
Pitcher of the Year: Jake Dahlberg, UIC
Relief Pitcher of the Year: Alex Padilla, UIC
Freshman of the Year: Ryan Weiss, Wright State
Coach of the Year: Mike Dee, UIC
First Team All-League
SP: Jay Peters, Milwaukee
SP: Jake Dahlberg, UIC
SP: Ryan Weiss, Wright State
RP: Alex Padilla, UIC
C: Rob Calabrese, UIC
1B: Trey Ganns, Northern Kentucky
2B: Matt Morrow, Wright State
3B: Ben Chally, Milwaukee
SS: Cody Bohanek, UIC
OF: T.J. Alas, Northern Kentucky
OF: Jake Richmond, Northern Kentucky
OF: Tyler Pagano, Oakland
DH: Chad Roberts, Northern Kentucky
Second Team All-League
SP: Jake Anderson, UIC
SP: Reid Birlingmair, UIC
SP: Danny Sexton, Wright State
RP: Derek Hendrixson, Wright State
C: Dalton Varsho, Milwaukee
1B: Zach Sterry, Oakland
2B: David Cronin, UIC
3B: Seth Gray, Wright State
SS: Trevor Schwecke, Milwaukee
OF: Emerson Misch, Oakland
OF: Mickey McDonald, UIC
OF: James Stea, Valparaiso
DH: Jake Hanson, Valparaiso
Trevor Schwecke, Milwaukee
Tyler Trovinger, Oakland
Jacob Key, UIC
Christian Barczi, Valparaiso
Easton Rhodehouse, Valparaiso
Jon Tieman, Valparaiso
Seth Gray, Wright State
Ryan Weiss, Wright State
Lou Cardona, Youngstown State