Valparaiso (9-10, 0-0 MVC)
vs. UIC (6-12, 1-2 Horizon)
Friday, April 1, 4:05 p.m. – Curtis Granderson Stadium (Chicago) – Trent Turzenski (R)
Saturday, April 2, Noon (Game 1) – Emory G. Bauer Field – Colin Fields (R)
Saturday, April 2, To Follow (Game 2) – Emory G. Bauer Field – Jake Miller (L)
Next Up in Valpo Baseball: The Valparaiso University baseball team will play its final weekend series prior to the start of Missouri Valley Conference play as the Beacons battle UIC for three this weekend. The series will be split between the two nearby venues as UIC will host the series opener on Friday at Curtis Granderson Stadium before the set shifts to Emory G. Bauer Field for Saturday’s doubleheader. This represents a preview of future MVC series as UIC will join The Valley on July 1.
Last Time Out: After a 2-0 weekend against St. Bonaventure, Valpo incurred an 11-3 midweek setback to Purdue Fort Wayne on a chilly Tuesday at Emory G. Bauer Field. The bulk of the Beacon run production came on one swing of the bat as Ryan Maka lifted his first career home run, a two-run job in the fourth. Adam Brauch finished with three hits, while Nolan Tucker also enjoyed a multi-hit game. Valpo was plagued by three errors and a passed ball in the first two innings alone, leading to four unearned runs for the Mastodons over the first two frames. Seven Valpo hurlers took the mound, including Jacob Rosenkranz and Christian Hack, who each tossed scoreless innings.
Following the Beacons: Friday’s game in the Windy City will air on ESPN+. There will be no video streaming of Saturday’s home doubleheader due to an overlap with a home MVC softball series. Saturday’s twinbill is expected to have radio coverage on WVUR, 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack (161-245), the 17th head baseball coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his ninth season in charge of the program. This year, he moves into sole possession of third in program history for number of seasons coached with nine, surpassing Donald Warnke (1946-1953). Entering the season, Schmack’s win total ranks fourth in program history after he surpassed Rick Ferchen (1982-1987, 147) during the 2021 campaign. Also in 2021, Schmack joined Paul Twenge (1988-2006), Emory G. Bauer (1954-1981) and Tracy Woodson (2007-2013) as the only head coaches to reach the 150-win threshold. The former big-league pitcher led Valpo to 25 wins in his inaugural campaign in 2014, 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.
Series Notes: UIC is Valpo’s second-most common all-time opponent as the two schools have faced off 136 times on the baseball diamond. The series is slanted in the Flames’ favor, 75-61. This weekend will be in a nonconference series, but the last and next matchups between these two foes are both conference showdowns. This will be the first battle between the nearby adversaries since May 14, 2017, a doubleheader split at Emory G. Bauer Field in Horizon League play. Valpo’s last trip to Curtis Grandson Stadium was a 6-4 setback to Oakland in the 2017 Horizon League Tournament, Valpo’s last-ever athletic contest in the Horizon League. The next morning, the department announced its plans to join the Missouri Valley Conference.
20-Game Checkpoint: Valpo is off to one of its best starts in recent memory, and a victory in the series opener against the Flames would allow the Beacons to own a .500 record through 20 games. That would represent Valpo’s first .500 or better mark at the 20-game checkpoint since 1998, when the Brown & Gold stood at 10-9-1 through 20 games.
In the Other Dugout: UIC
- Coming off a 10-9 upset over Big Ten foe Purdue on Tuesday. The Boilermakers are ranked No. 16 nationally by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
- UIC is 1-2 against The Valley so far this season, going 1-1 against Evansville and falling at Illinois State.
- Under the direction of first-year head coach Sean McDermott, who was promoted to the top spot after serving as part of longtime head coach Mike Dee’s staff for over two decades. Dee announced his retirement over the summer.
- Picked second in the Horizon League preseason poll.
- Led offensively by Bryan Rosario, who is hitting .344.
Fields Fans No. 200, Leads Nation in Ks/9: Colin Fields achieved a significant milestone when he recorded his 200th career strikeout on March 25 vs. St. Bonaventure. Fields became just the 12th player in program history to reach that milestone. He needs 10 more strikeouts to crack the program’s all-time top 10. For the season, Fields leads the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 16th nationally with 52 strikeouts. Fields leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings at 16.33.
Valpo’s All-Time Strikeout List
Name Years Strikeouts
Tim Juran 1969-1972 371
Joe Robisch 1961-1964 294
Dalton Lundeen 2013-2016 275
Jon Gulbransen 1987-1990 253
Bryce Shafer 2008-2010 250
Jon Tieman 2017-2021 244
Tom Starck 2001-2004 222
Richard Beumer 1959-1962 217
Chuck Donley 1991-1995 212
Jim Pomeroy 1996-1999 202
Colin Fields 2019-pres. 202
Quality Control: As a team, Valpo leads the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 60th nationally with a strikeout to walk ratio of 2.59. Lefty Jake Miller is at the forefront of that as his strikeout to walk ratio of 10.0 (30 strikeouts, three walks) ranks 15th nationally and leads the MVC. He has issued just 1.31 walks per nine innings, the best in the conference and 35th-best nationally. The Beacons are 18th nationally and lead The Valley in strikeouts per nine innings at 11.1.
More From the Whiff Wire: Prior to this season, Valpo pitchers had not struck out 17 or more batters in a single game since 2011. This year alone, that feat has been achieved three times – March 5 at Omaha and both games of a March 25 doubleheader vs. St. Bonaventure. In Game 1 of that double dip, starter Trent Turzenski became the first Valpo hurler to rack up a dozen strikeouts in a game since Jon Tieman on April 19, 2019 at SIUE. Prior to that, no Valpo pitcher had struck out 12 since Jon Gulbransen in 2011. In the nightcap, Fields fanned 10, matching a season high. He has struck out seven or more in each of his six starts this season. In his career, Fields has reached double-figure strikeouts on six occasions.
Notes Wrapping Up March 29 (Purdue Fort Wayne 11, Valpo 3)
- Ryan Maka delivered his first collegiate home run, becoming the fifth Valpo player with a long ball this season.
- Adam Brauch led the team with a career-high three hits.
- Nolan Tucker collected two hits, extending his hitting streak to seven. That marked his second multi-hit effort of the season, both of which have come in the last three games.
Other Notes Wrapping Up St. Bonaventure (March 25 – W 8-5, W 10-0)
- Valpo swept a doubleheader for the second time this season, joining Feb. 25 at Alabama A&M.
- The 10-run margin of victory was Valpo’s largest since beating Western Michigan 11-1 on April 16, 2019.
- In Game 2, Valpo notched its first shutout since March 13, 2021 at Middle Tennessee. The 10-0 victory over St. Bonaventure was the program’s most lopsided shutout win since April 16, 2016, an 11-0 triumph at Oakland.
- Valpo batters worked a season-high 14 walks in Game 2, the team’s most since Feb. 24, 2018 vs. Holy Cross (18).
- In Game 1, Beacon batters had a season-low four strikeouts and a season-high 16 hits. The hit total was the club’s most since May 1 of last season vs. Illinois State (18).
- Nolan Tucker had a career-high four hits in Game 1, becoming the first Valpo player with a four-hit game this season.
- Bobby Nowak nailed down his league-leading fifth save of the season in Game 1. He already has the most saves by a Valpo pitcher in a single season since Jon Tieman’s seven in 2017.
Sophomore Jump: Alex Thurston is off to a stellar start to his sophomore season. Thurston’s year has featured a sophomore jump rather than a sophomore slump as he has boosted a .158 batting average from last season to .348 in 2022, second on the team. Thurston is reaching base at a .449 clip after he finished his freshman season with a .284 OBP. March 15 at No. 6 Notre Dame, he became the first Valpo player with a double-figure hitting streak this season after two did so a year ago (Kyle Schmack and Kaleb Hannahs). That 10-game hitting streak came to an end on March 18 at Murray State, but he still has a hit in 16 of his last 17 games entering the series against UIC.
Home Sweet Home
- Although Valpo started the season with its usual long stretch of road games by playing the first 16 contest of the year away from home, there is plenty of home baseball to look forward to this spring.
- Valpo has 19 Emory G. Bauer Field games on the docket. There were 20 prior to weather removing the home opener vs. Milwaukee from the slate. If all 19 are played, it will mark the first time Valpo has played that many times on its home field since 2016.
- Furthermore, over the last five seasons, Valpo hasn’t had more than 15 home games completed in a single year.
- The chance to play at home with regularity is good news for Brian Schmack’s squad, as the team went 7-6 at home last season to finish with a winning home record for the fifth time in the last six seasons and the 12th time in the last 14 campaigns.
A Look Back at 2021
- For the first time since joining the prestigious Missouri Valley Conference prior to the 2018 season, Valpo won two games in the league tournament last year.
- The two victories helped the Beacons finish as one of the final four teams standing in the event, joining a pair of NCAA Regional qualifiers in Indiana State and DBU plus a Southern Illinois team that enjoyed a 40-win season.
- Valpo finished the 2021 season with its highest league winning percentage since joining The Valley.
- The team enjoyed a quality stretch of baseball from April 23 to May 8, going 8-4 in MVC play and incurring a one-run loss to No. 8 Notre Dame.
- Valpo started the league slate with an 0-8 record after playing the top two teams in the league on the road, but played nearly .500 ball the rest of the way.
- Compared to the most recently-completed season of 2019, the team improved its batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and fielding percentage in addition to increasing its number of home runs, doubles, hits and runs scored.
- The team stole 33 bases, its highest total since 2017.
- Pitchers racked up 410 strikeouts, the team’s highest total since 2010 (421). The staff also issued fewer walks and permitted fewer home runs than the 2019 campaign.
- Valpo posted a .969 fielding percentage, the third-best in program history. The team’s top three fielding percentages have all come since 2017.
- The team played in 15 one-run games including 10 in MVC action. The 15 one-run games were the team’s most in a single season since 2018 and the 10 in league play marked the program’s most since playing 16 one-run games in Horizon League action in 2012.
- On May 1 vs. Illinois State, Valpo had seven doubles in a single game, the most by any MVC team all season. The squad totaled 42 bases in that game, also the most by an MVC team all season. The May 1 game against the Redbirds saw the two teams combine for the most runs scored (30), hits (35), doubles (9), home runs (9) and strikeouts (25) for any MVC game all season. The 17 runs marked the team’s highest run total since 2018, the 18 hits were the program’s highest total since 2018, the 42 total bases were the team’s highest since 2006 and the five home runs were the most by Valpo in a single game since 2006.
- Valpo accomplished the rare feat of two walk-off wins in the same day during the April 23 doubleheader sweep of SIU. Jonathan Temple hit a walk-off homer in the opener and Riley Dent had a walk-off single in Game 2 for Valpo’s 10th walk-off victory of the Brian Schmack Era. Temple’s walk-off home run, which came in the first game on the program’s new field turf, was Valpo’s first since Zack Leone on March 30, 2018 vs. Bradley.
Emory G. Bauer Field Upgrades
- Valpo debuted its new infield during the 2021 season as the program now has synthetic turf on the infield and down the foul lines.
- The field renovation project was made possible by lead gifts from Valpo alumni Lynn Scheutzow ’74 Young and Carl Young ’73 and the Deetjen family. The Young and Deetjen families both had sons who played baseball at Valpo.
- Upgrades have continued in 2022 as the team will debut a new press box, a new scoreboard and have ESPN3/+ broadcast streaming capabilities for the first time.
- Thoughts from Head Coach Brian Schmack on the New Turf:“In the time that we’ve been able to use the turf, it has given our players an opportunity to take ground balls and work to hone their skills whenever they choose. We’ve had fewer disruptions to our game and practice schedules due to rain and field conditions. As soon as the rain stops, we’re out there playing or practicing. Another tremendous benefit is freeing up our players to not have to stay after to do field work or arrive early in the morning to pull the tarp. Instead, they are able to focus on the game. The turf creates a cleaner game with fewer bad hops, and that’s been awesome to see. Our players can’t get enough of it.”
Who’s Back, Who’s Gone, Who’s New?
- Valpo features 11 returning position players and 22 total returners who saw action during the 2021 season. A total of 25 players are back counting three who sat out all of last year.
- Three of the top four ERAs on the team have departed, including longtime pitching staff mainstays Jon Tieman and Easton Rhodehouse. Rhodehouse (11, fifth) and Tieman (10, t-sixth) both finished in the top 10 on the program’s all-time saves list, while Tieman also ranked among the program’s career strikeout leaders (244, seventh).
- However, 38 of the 51 games started by Valpo pitchers last season were by hurlers who return this season, while six of the nine position players who started the 2021 finale are back in 2022. The outfield was hit the hardest by graduation with the departure of veterans Steven Fitzsimmons and Riley Dent.
- The 2022 Valpo roster includes seven true freshmen and three transfers for a total of 10 newcomers.
- In an era where transferring has become commonplace in intercollegiate athletics, no players left the program to transfer to other college baseball programs following the 2021 season, attesting the program’s tight-knit culture.
Pitching Profiles – Projected Starters
- #36 RHP Trent Turzenski (So., Burlington, Wis. / Burlington) – Ranked seventh in the MVC in ERA and 11th in opponents’ batting average (.236) as a freshman in 2020… Ranked No. 18 on D1Baseball.com’s 2020 list of the Top 50 freshmen pitchers in the nation based on analytics… Had a team-best 2.48 ERA in 2020 over four games out of the bullpen… Played in the Little League World Series Regional Tournament on ESPN twice, when he was 11 and 12 years old… Followed the Colin Fields no-hitter with a strong pitching performance of his own in Game 2 of the March 13, 2021 doubleheader at Middle Tennessee, going seven innings to pick up the victory while allowing two runs on three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts… Earned the win on May 2, 2021 vs. Illinois State by scattering seven hits and walking none over four innings of one-run relief… Pitched an eight-inning complete game and allowed just two runs on five hits while striking out six in a tough-luck defeat as Valpo fell 2-1 at Missouri State in the May 22, 2021 regular-season finale... Made an MVC Tournament start and worked four frames on May 28, 2021 vs. host Southern Illinois... Throwing more strikes and has seen an uptick in velocity entering 2022... Rated the No. 30 2022 MLB Draft prospect among Missouri Valley Conference players by D1Baseball.com prior to the 2022 season... Tossed a seven-inning complete game on Feb. 25 at Alabama A&M, allowing two runs that both came over the first two frames. He earned the victory in Valpo’s 9-2 triumph after allowing two runs on five hits while walking two and striking out seven... Earned his second win of the season on March 4 at Omaha by allowing two runs (none earned) on five hits over six innings... Allowed eight runs (seven earned) on eight hits, four walks and six strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings on March 12 at SEMO, an elite offensive club. Half of the runs he permitted came on the final pitch he threw, a grand slam... Accrued a career-high 12 strikeouts while earning the victory in Game 1 of a March 25 doubleheader vs. St. Bonaventure, becoming the first Valpo player with a dozen strikeouts in a game since Jon Tieman at SIUE in April 2019. Prior to that, no Valpo pitcher had fanned 12 since Jon Gulbransen in 2011. Turzenski allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits while walking just one in the win.
- #25 RHP Colin Fields (Jr. / Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) – Father Timm is a 1990 Valpo graduate and played baseball for the Brown & Gold… Favorite MLB team is the Cubs and favorite current player is Kyle Hendricks… Finished 2021 season with 81 strikeouts, the most by a Valpo pitcher since Dalton Lundeen in 2015… Threw the eighth no-hitter in Valpo history and first since 1992 on March 13, 2021 in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Middle Tennessee, a seven-inning contest. His no-hit bid featured an immaculate inning (nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts) in the third. He struck out 10 in his no-no, an effort that earned him Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Week recognition. He earned the victory as Valpo topped Middle Tennessee 5-0. That outing earned Valparaiso University Male Performance of the Year at the end-of-season ARC Awards… Named MVC Pitcher of the Week for the second time in three weeks after tying a career high with 11 strikeouts while yielding just two hits in seven shutout innings of a victory at Butler on March 27, 2021... Rated the No. 15 2022 draft prospect in the MVC by D1Baseball.com prior to the 2022 season... Struck out eight while permitting four hits over six shutout innings in his first start of the season on Feb. 19 at Memphis, exiting in position for the win... Limited Alabama A&M to two runs on four hits while walking two and striking out seven over five innings to earn the victory in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Feb. 25... Posted his fifth career double-figure strikeout total by fanning 10 in five innings of Valpo’s 7-5 win at Omaha on March 5. He gave up five hits and allowed three runs in 4 1/3 innings to take no decision... Struck out eight batters over just 3 1/3 innings while allowing six runs (four earned) on five hits and walking five in Game 1 of the March 13 doubleheader at SEMO. That marked his fourth straight start with seven or more strikeouts... Earned the victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader on March 19 at Murray State, ending the Racers’ longest home winning streak since 1958 by handing them their first home loss of the season. He recovered after walking five in the first two innings – four of which came on full counts – and did not permit a walk for the remainder of his outing while sending down 11 straight from the second to the sixth. He totaled nine strikeouts, his fifth straight start with seven or more, and allowed two runs on just two hits in five frames... Became the 12th pitcher in program history to reach the 200-strikeout milestone on March 25 in Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. St. Bonaventure, doing so by fanning 10 over five shutout innings of two-hit, two-walk baseball to earn the win and improve to 3-0.
- #29 LHP Jake Miller, So. (Chester, N.Y. / Don Bosco Prep) – Was a 2018 Rawlings Perfect Game Preseason All-American… Is just the second Valpo player to hail from the state of New York since 2005, joining Zack Leone… Redshirted in 2020 before seeing action in 11 games out of the Valpo bullpen in 2021... Earned a well-deserved win on a hitter-friendly day in his season debut on Feb. 20 at Memphis, bouncing back from a rough first inning to log five innings of three-run ball while scattering seven hits, walking one and striking out six... Had back-to-back scheduled starts canceled due to weather on Feb. 27 at Alabama A&M and March 6 at Omaha... Finally returned to the rubber on March 13 at SEMO and allowed seven runs on seven hits, two walks and eight strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. His line was a bit deceiving as all seven runs against him came on home runs (four total), many of which carried to right field on a hitter-friendly day and would not have left the yard under normal conditions... Pitched a career-high seven innings and racked up a career-high nine strikeouts while issuing no walks, scattering six hits and permitting one run to earn the win and help Valpo complete a road split at Murray State in the March 20 series finale... Was used out of the bullpen in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 25 vs. St. Bonaventure and struck out seven while allowing two hits and walking none over four innings to earn his first collegiate save.
Position Player Profiles – Projected Lineup
*Based on recent games
- #6 Alex Thurston, SS, So. (Fowler, Ind. / Benton Central) – Finished as the Valedictorian of his high school senior class… Won the 2019 Nanoline Automation National Championship with three classmates after creating an automated paint brush cleaner… Three-year all-conference honoree on the diamond while also playing four years of tennis and one year of basketball in high school… Appeared in 40 games and made 39 starts in 2021... Hit .417 over a four-game series vs. Evansville (May 14-16, 2021)... Has gained weight and strength during the offseason leading into 2022... Enjoyed his second career three-hit game in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Feb. 25 at Alabama A&M... Had three hits in the second game of a March 13 doubleheader at SEMO.
- #15 Kaleb Hannahs, 3B, So. (West Terre Haute, Ind. / West Vigo) – 2021 MVC Freshman of the Year, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American, All-MVC Second Team and Valparaiso University co-Male Newcomer of the Year (ARC Awards)... In a very unusual and possibly even unprecedented occurrence, both of Valpo’s starting corner infielders are the sons of Missouri Valley Conference head baseball coaches… Hannahs’ father Mitch is the head coach at Indiana State… Civil engineering major… Fan of Luke Combs, the St. Louis Cardinals and Fernando Tatis Jr… Three-sport athlete in high school, where he earned four letters apiece in football, basketball and baseball… Had a career-high five RBIs in the first game of a doubleheader at Butler on March 27, 2021 and finished the day with five hits, three runs scored, three RBIs and three walks over the two games… Earned MVC Player of the Week on May 3 after posting a slash line .556/.636/.667 over five games during the week... Led the team in batting average (.296), hits (55) and on-base percentage (.389) in 2021, becoming the first rookie to pace the team in batting average since Spencer Mahoney in 2012... Finished the 2021 season on a 20-game on-base streak... Had a team-high 15 multi-hit games in 2021 including three three-hit outputs and a season-high four hits in Game 1 of a May 1 doubleheader vs. Illinois State... Started his freshman season with a .200 average over the first 11 games before hitting .336 over his last 36 regular-season contests while posting a .434 on-base percentage in that time... Listed by D1Baseball.com as the No. 3 prospect in the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2023 MLB Draft... Has gotten stronger over the offseason leading into his sophomore season... Had three of Valpo’s five hits on Feb. 19 at Memphis... Enjoyed the first two-homer game of his collegiate career on Feb. 20, helping Valpo to a 10-8 victory in the series finale at Memphis. Finished the day with his second straight three-hit game... Hit his third home run of the season and also doubled in Valpo’s 4-2 win in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Omaha on March 4... Had three hits in each game of the March 13 doubleheader at SEMO, totaling six hits on the day including a double and home run.
- #27 Kyle Schmack, RF, So. (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) – After graduating from nearby South Central High School in 2019, Kyle joined his father Brian’s program at Valpo… Is the first Valpo student-athlete to play for his or her parent as a head coach since Bryce Drew in 1998… Was the MVP of the Indiana North/South All-Star Game in June 2019 following his senior year of high school… Also played football during his prep days… Appeared in 20 games and made nine starts during the shortened 2020 season… Appeared in all 51 games and made 50 starts in 2021, posting a .264 average that ranked fourth on the team while tying for second on the club with 24 RBIs and ranking second on the squad with nine doubles... Over the final 15 games of the 2021 season, hit a team-high .304 with two home runs, a .464 slugging percentage, a .361 on-base percentage and a team-high 14 RBIs... Has trimmed down during the offseason leading into 2022 to become more mobile... Had a double and a two-run homer to pace the offense in Game 2 of the Feb. 25 doubleheader at Alabama A&M... Had a pair of doubles to help Valpo to a 4-2 win in Game 1 of a March 4 doubleheader at Omaha... Launched his fourth career home run and second of the season on March 15 at No. 6 Notre Dame, part of a multi-hit day... Ripped his third home run of the season and fifth of his career in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 19 at Murray State, his 21st birthday... Followed that by tying a season high with three hits in the March 20 series finale, a victory at Murray State.
- #30 Brady Renfro, 1B, So. (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) – Exercise science major… Is an only child… Hobbies include hunting and fishing… Favorite MLB player is Clayton Kershaw and team is the Milwaukee Br.wers… Played with STiKS Baseball Academy and the Chicago Scouts Association… Hit his first career home run on March 26, 2021 at Butler… Part of back-to-back home runs along with Parker Johnson on April 3, 2021 at DBU… Posted a 21-game on-base streak that was snapped on May 2, 2021 vs. Illinois State, Valpo’s longest on-base streak since 2017... Hit a team-best .333 during the series at Indiana State (April 16-18)... Named All-MVC Honorable Mention... Healthier in 2022 after having hip surgery in summer 2021... Spanked his fifth career home run on Feb. 20 at Memphis, a 10-8 Valpo victory... Had three extra-base knocks in a doubleheader sweep of Alabama A&M on Feb. 25 including his second home run of the season and the sixth of his career... Had three hits including a home run in the opener of the March 13 doubleheader at SEMO. Launched another home run in the second game of the twinbill.
- #21 Adam Brauch, DH, R-Fr. (Waukee Iowa / Dowling Catholic) – Missed the 2021 season with an injury... Three-year starting shortstop in high school... Also played football, basketball and bowling during his prep tenure... Played a key role in helping his baseball team reach the state final four in 2019 and helped his football team to its seventh straight 4A state championship... Has bowled a 239 game... Enjoys running, bowling and watching Netflix... Delivered a clutch, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh of a March 5 game at Omaha that gave Valpo the lead for good in a 7-5 victory... Drilled his first collegiate home run, a three-run bomb, in Game 1 of a March 25 doubleheader vs. St. Bonaventure... Had a career-high three hits on March 29 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne.
- #22 Ryan Maka, RF, Fr. (Oak Forest, Ill. / Oak Forest) – Also competed in golf in high school... Other hobbies include investing and going to the gym... Favorite TV Show is Stranger Things... Listed as having made the biggest strides from Fall 2021 to Spring 2022... Had a triple for his first collegiate hit and finished with two knocks in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 13 at SEMO... Delivered his first collegiate home run on March 29 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne.
- #1 Nolan Tucker, 2B, R-Fr.. (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) – Earned all-conference honors in three high school seasons in baseball and was a two-time conference champion in wrestling… Was the 2019-20 President of Brandt Hall (dorm)… Hobbies include kayaking… Can juggle and walk on his hands… Can drink a bottle of water in 1.5 seconds… Was a three-year class president in high school… Spanked a home run and drove in four in a Feb. 23, 2020 game at No. 3 Louisville. He had three hits while becoming the first Valpo freshman with a four-RBI game since Grant Yoder on April 24, 2012 at Purdue Fort Wayne (then IPFW)… Collected 10 hits and drove in six runs during the 2020 campaign… Played in the Collegiate Summer Baseball Invitational on June 4, 2020 on ESPN2 in the first live baseball event since the pandemic.... Appeared in four games in 2021 before incurring a season-ending injury... Missed the beginning of the 2022 season with a hamstring injury... Delivered a go-ahead, bases-clearing double on March 20 at Murray State... Had a career-high four hits in Game 1 of the March 25 doubleheader vs. St. Bonaventure, becoming the first Beacon to notch a four-hit game this season.
- #14 Angel DiFederico, C, So. (New Haven, Ind. / New Haven) – Earned a spot in the 2019 North/South All-Star Game after his senior year at New Haven in Indiana… Had the highest batting average on the team in a limited sample size in 2020, hitting .348 in seven games (six starts)… Drove in four and posted a .455 batting average during Valpo’s series win over SIU (April 23-25, 2021)… Led the team in league-only batting average at .313 in his 19 MVC games (18 starts) in 2021, reaching base at a .387 clip in MVC play... Hit two triples in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Feb. 25 at Alabama A&M, the first two-triple game by a Valpo player since Andy Burns on April 6, 2013 vs. UIC... After four straight hitless games, broke through with a pair of doubles on March 20 at Murray State.
- #4 Spencer Warfield, CF, Fr. (Fullerton, Calif. / Servite) – School treasurer and member of principal’s high honor roll with distinction in high school (above 4.0 GPA with straight A’s)... Favorite food is a cheeseburger.
Beacon Bullpen ‘Bits
- #8 RHP Zach Fricke, Jr. (Arlington Heights, Ill. / Buffalo Grove) – Valpo prevailed in each of his final three starts of the season in 2021 before he missed the end of the season with an injury... Led the team in victories as a freshman in 2019 (3)... During a three-game stretch late in the 2019 season, he made starts against Evansville, Bradley and Southern Illinois and posted a combined 3-0 record with a 2.14 ERA and opponents hitting .214 against him.
- #10 LHP Christian Hack, Fr. (Oak Forest, Ill. / Tinley Park) – Helped his team to conference and regional championships in 2019... Also competed in high school basketball... Says he can “do a decent Chewbacca noise”... Favorite TV Show is The Office... Made his collegiate debut on March 4 at Omaha and worked a scoreless inning that featured a pair of strikeouts... Worked a perfect inning of relief on March 29 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne.
- #11 RHP Connor Lockwood, Fr. (Libertyville, Ill. / Libertyville) – Named conference co-player of the year as a high school senior in 2021 and received all-state accolades... Interested in a career in elementary education... Favorite food is deep dish pizza... Allowed two runs on six hits and no walks in 3 2/3 innings on March 15 at No. 6 Notre Dame... Made his first career weekend start in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 19 at Murray State... Made his second start of the season on March 29 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne and took the defeat.
- #12 RHP Jacob Rosenkranz, So. (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) – Made 13 appearances and one start in 2021... Had three straight scoreless outings in 2021 on April 1 (at DBU), April 24 (vs. SIU) and April 27 (at No. 8 Notre Dame) and did not allow any hits in three total innings during that stretch... Made five appearances out of the bullpen during the shortened 2020 season... Lived in Texas for 13 years... Favorite TV show is Breaking Bad... Pitched a shutout inning of relief on March 19 in Game 2 of a doubleheader at Murray State... Worked a perfect inning of relief on March 29 vs. Purdue Fort Wayne.
- #16 RHP Josh Cottrill, R-Fr. (Pewaukee, Wis. / Pewaukee) – Redshirted in 2021 during his first season on campus... Two-time all-conference performer in high school... Set his school’s record for highest batting average by a freshman at .531 in 2017... Hobbies include Guitar Hero... Can juggle... Loves to travel.
- #32 RHP Bobby Nowak, So. (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) – Played summer ball with the Beecher Muskies of the Chicago Suburban League... Hobbies include hunting and fishing... Favorite movie is Indiana Jones... Touted as a pitcher with strength who can spin it well... Nailed down his first save in a Valpo uniform by working the final 1 1/3 innings on Feb. 20 at Memphis... Struck out the side in the ninth in Game 2 of a Feb. 25 doubleheader at Alabama A&M, preserving a 3-2 victory and improving to 2-for-2 this season in save chances... Earned saves in the March 4 and March 5 games at Omaha, allowing a combined one hit over 1 2/3 innings to lift his season save total to four. At the end of that weekend, he was one of 10 players nationally with four or more saves... Put a zero on the board in the ninth in a 6-1 win at Murray State on March 20... Retired the side in order in the top of the ninth in Game 1 of a March 25 doubleheader vs. St. Bonaventure, nailing down his fifth save.
- #33 LHP Keegan Bates, Jr. (Plainfield, Ill. / Plainfield North) – Worked four innings spanning three relief appearances in 2021 after pitching in two games during the shortened 2020 season and 15 (including four starts) as a freshman in 2019... Hobbies include fishing and football... Favorite move is The Dark Knight.
- #34 RHP Grant Jablonski, So. (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) – Appeared in four games in 2021 and two in 2020... 2019 Indiana All-Star while earning all-state honors... Favorite TV show is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia... Was a bright spot in the Feb. 18 season opener at Memphis, retiring the side in order in his first frame of the season... Logged two scoreless innings on March 15 at No. 6 Notre Dame.
- #35 RHP Nolan Lebamoff, Jr. (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carroll [Kankakee CC]) – Joined the program for the 2021 season as a JUCO transfer… Majoring in political science… 2019 Second Team All-Region Four NJCAA… 2019 Kankakee CC Pitcher of the Year… Tied for third in the nation in NJCAA D-II in saves in 2019… Finished third on Kankakee’s all-time saves list… Appeared in 17 games out of the Valpo bullpen in 2021... Earned his first career save in Game 1 of a doubleheader on March 19 at Murray State, closing out the game by retiring 10 straight Racers to cap four strong innings.
- #38 RHP Griffin McCluskey, So. (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) – Pitched in nine games and made two starts as a freshman in 2021... Made his first career start on April 27 at No. 8 Notre Dame... Also got the starting nod on May 11 vs. the No. 8 Fighting Irish and pitched a gem at Emory G. Bauer Field, holding the guests to no runs on one hit – a seeing-eye single through the left side – while walking just one and striking out four in six innings. He left in position for the win after becoming just the third pitcher to hold Notre Dame scoreless while pitching six or more innings all season, joining Duke’s Jack Carey and Boston College’s Emmett Sheehan... Posted the highest fielding percentage by a starting shortstop in program history in high school... Finished in the top 10 in his high school’s history in career 3-point field goals in basketball... Enjoys playing the guitar... Pitched a scoreless inning in his season debut on March 4 at Omaha.
- #39 RHP Ryan Mintz (So., Lombard, Ill. / Willowbrook) – Set his high school’s record for wins by a pitcher in the program’s 60-year history… Computer engineering major… Hobbies include snowboarding and other extreme sports.
- #42 RHP Nathan Chasey, Jr. (Ames, Iowa / Gilbert [Indian Hills CC]) – Joined the program for the 2021 season after two years of JUCO baseball… NJCAA Region 11 Honorable Mention in 2019… Enjoys fishing… Favorite MLB team is the Atlanta Braves and player is Chipper Jones… Did not surrender a tally in any of his first six Valpo outings in 2021, a streak spanning 6 1/3 innings... Heaved a scoreless ninth and picked up his first save of the season as Valpo edged Illinois State 6-5 on May 27, 2021 in an MVC Tournament elimination game.... Has added a slider for the 2022 season... Throwing harder in 2022...Worked a 1-2-3 eighth on Feb. 25 in Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. Alabama A&M, helping Valpo hold on to a 3-2 victory... Earned the win on March 5 at Omaha in Game 1 of a doubleheader by tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and no walks... Worked a perfect eighth inning in a 6-1 victory in the series finale at Murray State on March 20... Had two innings of strong relief in Game 1 of a doubleheader on March 25 vs. St. Bonaventure, as the only baserunner he allowed was a solo home run.
Off the Bench
- #2 Jake Kapers, C, Jr. (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) – Younger brother of Scott, who was Valpo’s starting catcher for three seasons before leaving a year early to sign with the Texas Rangers after being selected in the 17th round of the 2018 MLB Draft… Hit .357 over the final four games of the 2019 regular season to lead the team during that stretch… Played in 11 games and made 10 starts in 2020… Caught the Colin Fields no-hitter in Game 1 of a doubleheader on March 13, 2021 at Middle Tennessee.
- #5 Jeremy Drudge, OF, Jr. (Plymouth, Ind. / Plymouth) – Spent the 2019 summer playing for the Normal CornBelters of the Prospect League… Came to Valpo as a rookie in 2019 after seeing limited action as a senior in high school due to a torn ACL… Raced go-karts during his youth… Appeared in 12 games and made 10 starts in 2020, collecting six hits including a triple and a home run… Combined with Damon Jorgensen to hit back-to-back home runs on March 19, 2021 at Western Kentucky... Was the only player on the team with multiple triples and multiple home runs in 2021 (two triples, three home runs)... Has made a few important tweaks to his swing leading into 2022.
- #9 Matt Olive, LF, So., (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) – Majoring in mechanical engineering with minors in Spanish and mathematics… Went 5-for-9 in Valpo’s series win vs. SIU (April 23-25, 2021)... Hit .255 in 21 games and 15 starts in 2021 including a .289 batting average in MVC play... Delivered a go-ahead solo homer with two outs and two strikes to snap a 5-5 tie and give Valpo a 6-5 lead in the May 27, 2021 MVC Tournament elimination game vs. Illinois State in Carbondale. The home run stood as the difference in the game.
- #17 Alex Ryan, CF, So. (Lake Mills, Wis. / Lakeside Lutheran) – Played in 10 games and made one start as a freshman in 2021... Three-time all-conference pick in high school… Milwaukee Brewers fans… Has a twin sister, Olivia… Hobbies include hiking and playing card games.
- #19 Kade Reinertson, C., R-Fr. (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) – Did not see game action in 2021... Also played football and basketball in high school... Enjoys golfing and disc golfing... Kicks with his left foot but does everything else right handed.
- #20 Brady Nowicki, IF, Jr. (Big Bend, Wis. / Mukwonago [Indiana Hills CC]) – Interested in public relations and marketing... Joined the program for the 2022 season as a junior college transfer... Played JUCO baseball with teammates from eight different countries... Favorite food is Buffalo Wild Wings and favorite TV Show is Survivor.
- It’s never too early to glance ahead to 2023, as the program has announced five signees for next season.
- Infielder Kyle Tyler (Alsip, Ill. / Andrean), third baseman Thomas Cooper (Brentwood, Tenn. / Ravenwood), RHP Adam Guazzo (Algonquin, Ill. / Huntley), RHP Kaleb Krier (Altoona, Iowa / Southeast Polk [Des Moines Area CC]) and catcher Will Radich (Lake Oswego, Ore. / IMC Academy) have signed to join the program for the 2022-2023 academic and athletic year.
- Thoughts from Head Coach Brian Schmack on the Incoming Class: “We identified five players who fill needs for our program. They all fit the profile of what we’re looking for to keep the team rolling. We’re excited about this class as a whole. They are pumped to compete in the Missouri Valley Conference and continue to take us to the next level. I would like to thank our assistant coaches who have played a vital role in finding these players. I appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into the process.”
Inside the Assistants: Top assistant Kory Winter returns to head coach Brian Schmack’s staff this season, while assistant coach Mitchell Boe has joined the fold.
- After spending three seasons as a volunteer assistant, Kory Winter was hired as Schmack’s top assistant and hitting coach beginning with the 2019 campaign. Winter played collegiately at Wittenberg and has completed coaching stints at Muskingum University and Shippensburg University. He is also Valpo’s outfield instructor and coaches third base.
- Mitchell Boe is in his first year on the Valpo coaching staff, serving as the team’s infield and baserunning instructor while also coaching first base for the Beacons. A Naperville, Ill. native and product of Joliet Catholic High School, Boe played collegiately at the University of Iowa from 2016-2019. Boe appeared in 193 games for the Hawkeyes, tied for the ninth most in program history. He received Iowa’s Big Ten Sportsmanship Award in 2019, when he was one of four team captains and started 46 games at second base.