No Foolin', Valpo Opens at Home Friday
Thursday, March 31, 2011
No Foolin', Valpo Opens at Home Friday
Steve Godawa and Valpo battle the Flames this weekend. (Jeff Golden)

Valparaiso (4-19, 1-2 Horizon)
Games #24-26 vs. UIC (11-10, 3-0 Horizon)
Friday, April 1, 3 p.m. CDT
Saturday, April 2, 12 p.m. CDT (DH)
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.

Up Next in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso returns to Emory G. Bauer Field for the first time in 2011 this weekend as the Crusaders host UIC in a three-game Horizon League series.  Valpo is beginning a five-game homestand against the conference leader and will play 10 of its next 13 contests at the friendly confines.

On the Air: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) will broadcast both Friday’s and Saturday’s games against UIC live both over the airways as well as online at  Live stats will also be available through for each game.

Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson, the 16th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders and has a 99-144 (.407) record both for his career as well as at Valpo.  Woodson ranks fourth in school history for career wins by a head coach.  A member of the Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Champion team, he has also managed in the minor leagues through the AAA level.

Probable Starters:
Justin Frane (RHP, 0-1, 2.88) will be handed the ball in the series opener on Friday for Valpo against UIC’s Matt Heaslip (RHP, 2-1, 5.33).  In game one on Saturday, Damon McCormick (RHP, 1-4, 5.90) will take the mound for the Crusaders opposite the Flames’ Matt Salemi (RHP, 2-2, 3.03).  The series finale will feature southpaw Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 1-5, 5.20) for Valpo against Joey Begel (RHP, 1-1, 5.82) for UIC.

Series Notes: UIC leads the all-time series with Valpo 50-41 dating back to 1977.  Last season the Crusaders and Flames split four games during year.  UIC won the regular season three-game series in Chicago after a doubleheader slated for earlier in the year at Valpo was canceled due to weather.  The Flames took the opener 13-10.  Valpo rebounded to win game one of a doubleheader two days later 9-8 before the Flames won the series finale 10-5.  Valpo evened the series on May 28 though, in the Horizon League Tournament, defeating UIC 10-5 to eliminate the Flames from the championship.  Valpo has not defeated UIC at Emory G. Bauer Field since April 25, 2002 when the Crusaders posted a 16-11 triumph.

Wrapping Up Northwestern: Jon Gulbransen worked seven innings while matching a career high with 10 strikeouts on Wednesday as the Crusaders defeated the Wildcats 5-2 at Rocky Miller Park in Evanston, Ill.  He allowed just three hits and walked two.  Kyle Gaedele had a three-run double in the fourth to give the Crusaders the lead and Chris Manning added a RBI single in the seventh.  Michael Morman drove home the first run of the game with a fielder’s choice.

Scouting UIC: The Flames enter the weekend the hottest team in the Horizon League, having won eight straight games following a 4-1 victory at home against Chicago State on Wednesday.  Alex De LaRosa is hitting .371 on the season for a team that is batting .288 on the year.  Jason Ganek has homered four times and driven in 18 runs.  The Flames’ pitching staff has posted a 4.42 earned run average on the year and are allowing opponents to bat .295 against them.  Chris Hoffman has a 3-1 record with a 1.56 ERA in 14 appearances out of the bullpen.

Home Sweet Home: Valpo returns home to Emory G. Bauer Field for the first time in 2011 this weekend after a 23-game road trip.  The Crusaders are looking for a victory in a home opener for the first time since 2008 when the Brown and Gold downed Cleveland State.  Last season the Crusaders went 13-6 at Emory G. Bauer Field.

Sitting Them Down:
Valparaiso pitchers struck out a season-high 14 batters on Wednesday in the win against Northwestern.  Jon Gulbransen matched his career high with 10 strikeouts while Karch Kowalczyk added four Ks in relief.  As a team Crusader hurlers have fanned 145 batters this season, second in the Horizon League.

Thibault Has a Hot Bat: Corey Thibault had just seven hits in all of 2010 and only three this season before last weekend.  However he senior catcher has four hits in his last eight at bats dating back to last weekend with two homers and a double.  He has driven in three runs, more than his total in all of 2010 and scored three runs during the span.

Finally Getting Runners Home: Valpo entered last weekend’s play batting just .182 with runners in scoring position.  The Crusaders had much more success in the three games against Butler, scoring runners in nine of 27 at bats (.333) with runners on second and/or third.  Valpo added three more hits with runners in scoring position in the win at Northwestern on Wednesday.

Manning Goes for Three: Chris Manning hit his Horizon League-leading third triple of the season against Butler.  He is halfway to moving into the top-five on Valpo’s single season charts as Kevin Perri (2005) and Paul Swenson (2005) both had six three-baggers to tie for fourth on the yearly charts.

Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss It: Valparaiso’s baseball game times continue to move along.  The Crusaders are averaging just 2:24 for the 20 nine-inning games in which they have played this season.  Valpo has gone over three hours just three times this year, two of which were 11-inning contests.

Leading the League: Valpo has several players leading the Horizon League in statistical categories.  Ryan O’Gara shares the top spot having drawn 17 walks on the year while Kyle Gaedele has a league-best 14 stolen bases.   Jon Gulbransen has thrown a league-high 40.2 innings on the mound.  As a team the Crusaders lead the conference with six triples and the pitching staff has limited opponents to a league-low .278 batting average.

No Changes in the Outfield: Valpo’s outfield of Steven Scoby in left, Chris Manning in center, and Kyle Gaedele in right have started all 23 games this season.

Go Speed Racers: Kyle Gaedele and Chris Manning have the Crusaders off and running on the base paths.  As a team Valpo is 34-for-40 in stolen base attempts, with Gaedele 14-for-15 on the season and Manning 8-for-10.  Gaedele is now 39-for-42 swiping bases in his career after stealing three bases Wednesday at Northwestern.

Gulbransen Moving Career List: Jon Gulbransen has moved into fifth place on Valpo’s career innings pitched list with 276.1 at Valpo, passing Tim Juran (1969-1972).  He is just 5.1 innings behind Shawn Barker (1987-1990) for fourth all-time and just 9.2 innings in back of John Grippi (1984-1988) for third on the career charts.  He needs just 38.1 more innings to match Harvey Yergin (2004-2007) as the career record-holder at Valpo.

Career Lists Part Two: Jon Gulbransen also continues to climb the career strikeouts list at Valpo.  The southpaw has fanned 219 hitters during his career,  passing Richard Beumer (1959-1962) for sixth on the career charts.  The southpaw is just three strikeouts behind Tom Starck (2001-2004) for a spot in the top-five.

Gaedele On Extra Base Charts: Kyle Gaedele has moved into a tie with Dale Polonus (1986-1988) and Kurt Gesse (1982-1986) for eighth place on Valpo’s career doubles list with 38 two-baggers.  He is two doubles behind Rob Hadrick (1994-1997) for seventh.  Gaedele is also tied for eighth with Todd Kirkpatrick (1983-1987) and J.J. Swiatkowski (1997-2000) on the triples list with nine, one behind Jeff Snyder (1989-1992) for seventh.

Gaedele Earns Preseason Honors:
Outfielder Kyle Gaedele has been named a Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Third Team selection prior to the start of the season.  Gaedele batted .373 with seven homers and 63 runs batted in a year ago while legging out eight triples.

Valpo Tabbed Fourth in 2011:
Valparaiso has been picked to finish in fourth place in the annual Horizon League preseason coaches’ poll.  Wright State, last year’s regular season champion, has been picked to repeat while Milwaukee has been selected second after winning last year’s tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.

This and That: Kyle Gaedele enters the weekend having reached base safely in 10 straight games ... Chris Manning has hit safely in five straight games ... coach Tracy Woodson’s next victory will be his 100th both in his collegiate career and at Valpo.