Crusaders to Host Youngstown State, Saint Francis This Weekend
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Crusaders to Host Youngstown State, Saint Francis This Weekend
Valpo returns to the diamond for four games this weekend. (Jeff Golden)

Valparaiso (11-21, 6-3 Horizon)
Games #33-35 vs. Youngstown State (8-22, 3-3 Horizon)
Friday, April 15, 11 a.m. CDT
Saturday, April 16, 12 p.m. CDT (DH)
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.
Game #36 vs. Saint Franicis (Ind.) (10-29, 2-10 MCC)
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.

Up Next in Crusader Baseball: Having won five straight games and eight of its last 10 overall, Valparaiso looks to continue its hot streak this weekend with a three-game Horizon League series against Youngstown State on Friday and Saturday before entertaining Saint Francis (Ind.) in non-conference action on Sunday.

On the Air: WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) will broadcast all four games live from Emory G. Bauer Field.  The games can also be heard live online through  Live stats will also be available through for each game this season.

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 106-146 (.421) 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: Game one of the series with Youngstown State will see Justin Frane (RHP, 1-1, 2.09) take the hill for the Crusaders against the Penguins’ Bill Turosky (LHP, 1-0, 3.52). Saturday’s doubleheader has Damon McCormick (RHP, 2-5, 4.85) and Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 3-5, 3.88) slated to pitch for Valpo.  Youngstown State will counter with Phil Klein (RHP, 4-3, 4.24) and Robert Switka (RHP, 1-4, 7.78).  On Sunday, Kevin Upp (RHP, 1-0, 3.60) will be handed the ball against Saint Francis.  The Cougars have yet to announce their Sunday starter.

Series Notes: Valparaiso is 28-14 all-time against Youngstown State in a series that dates back to 1992.  Last year the Crusaders won a three-game series against the Penguins in Youngstown on April 10-11, taking the opener 6-4 in 10 innings and game two 4-0.  YSU won the series finale 8-1.  The two schools then split a May 14 doubleheader at Emory G. Bauer Field.  Youngstown State won the opener 15-5 before Valpo took the nightcap 14-3.  Valpo is 3-0 all-time against Saint Francis (Ind.) dating back to 2008.  The Crusaders won last year’s meeting at Emory G. Bauer Field 8-1 on April 18.

Wrapping Up Chicago State:
Jon Gulbransen pitched seven strong innings, allowing just one run and four hits while striking out 13, as the Crusaders downed the Cougars 8-1 at Emory G. Bauer Field on Tuesday.  Kyle Gaedele, Will Hagel, Robbie Robinson, and Andrew Bain all had two hits a piece and the Crusaders scored five times in the third inning to break the game open.

Scouting Youngstown State: The Penguins enter the weekend having dropped both ends of a midweek home-and-home series with Kent State.  YSU won two of three last weekend at home against Butler.  Joe Iacobucci leads Youngstown State offensively with a .316 batting average and 12 runs batted in while Drew Dosch is hitting at a .301 clip.  The Penguins are batting just .241 as a team.  The pitching staff has posted a 6.92 ERA thus far this season while opponents are hitting .324 against YSU hurlers.

Scouting Saint Francis:
The Cougars enter the weekend having split a Wednesday doubleheader against Davenport (Mich.) at home.  Saint Francis has a pair of doubleheaders scheduled against Goshen for Thursday and Saturday before heading to Valpo on Sunday.  Derek Coverstone leads the Cougars batting .375 with seven home runs and 33 runs batted in.  Saint Francis’ pitching staff has posted a 6.24 ERA on the year with opponents hitting .333 against the team.

Busy Stretch: Valpo begins a busy eight day stretch on Friday.  The Crusaders will play eight times in eight days beginning with the four home games this weekend.  Valpo then heads to IPFW on Tuesday before flying to Hawai’i for a three-game series next Thursday through Saturday.

Who Needs a Bullpen?: All three of Valpo’s starting pitchers went the distance in conference victories over Cleveland State last weekend.  Justin Frane started things on Friday with his first complete game of his career.  Damon McCormick followed suit on Saturday in game one of the twinbill, posting his second complete effort of the season and fifth of his career.  Tyler Deetjen closed the weekend with his team-leading third complete game of the year.

More Starting Pitching:
Valpo’s starting pitchers have allowed just 18 earned runs in the first nine Horizon League games this season.  Justin Frane leads the way with a 0.54 ERA in league play.  Tyler Deetjen has posted a 2.31 conference ERA while Damon McCormick’s Horizon League ERA stands at 3.68.

Closing Time: After giving up a pair of earned runs in his first appearance of the season at Austin Peay, Karch Kowalczyk has been nearly perfect in the closer’s role for the Crusaders.  In his last eight appearances he has surrendered just one unearned run and three hits in eight innings, lowering his ERA to 1.64.  Opponents are hitting just .132 on the year against Kowalczyk.

Throwing Strikes:
Valpo’s pitching staff has walked just 21 batters in 79 innings of Horizon League play this season.  They have struck out the opponent 67 times though for a greater than 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, led by Damon McCormick’s 23 strikeouts in conference action.

Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss It: Valparaiso’s baseball game times continue to move along.  The Crusaders are averaging just 2:20 for the 29 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.  The Crusaders have had a game go more than two-and-a-half hours just twice since March 13.  Those games were 2:35 and 2:34.

Scoring Early: Valpo entered last weekend having scored just 10 runs all season in the first inning.  The Crusaders scored twice in the first in game one of Saturday’s twinbill, and added another run in the first inning of the game two.  Tuesday against Chicago State, Valpo added another first inning tally.

Go Speed Racers: Kyle Gaedele and Chris Manning have the Crusaders off and running on the base paths.  Gaedele is already 16-for-17 swiping bases, and is now 41-for-44 during his three-year career with the Brown and Gold.  Manning has nearly been as successful, stealing 13-of-16 attempted bases during his freshman year.  As a team, Valpo is 43-of-53 in stolen base attempts (81.1%) on the season, posting the best success rate in the Horizon League.

Gulbransen Moving Career List: Jon Gulbransen has moved into third place on Valpo’s career innings pitched list with 291.1 at Valpo, passing Shawn Barker (1987-1990).  He is just 0.1 innings in back of Tim Holmes (1984-1987) for the second spot all-time and needs just 23.1 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 238 hitters during his career,  passing Tom Starck (2001-2004) for fifth on the career charts.  The southpaw is just 12 strikeouts behind Bryce Shafer (2008-2010) for fourth place.

Gaedele On Extra Base Charts: Kyle Gaedele has moved into fifth place on Valpo’s career doubles list with 42 two-baggers, passing Chris Moore (1998-2001) and Kevin Kutansky (2003-2006).  He is nine doubles behind J.J. Swiatkowski (1997-2000) for fourth on the career list.  Gaedele is also tied for seventh with Jeff Snyder (1989-1992) on the triples list with 10, one behind Marc Boggio (1999-2003) for sixth.

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 19 straight games while Robbie Robinson has been on base in 11 consecutive contests ... Gaedele has the team’s longest active hitting streaks at seven straight games ...  Valpo’s outfield of Steven Scoby in left, Chris Manning in center, and Gaedele in right have started all 32 games ... Valpo has outscored opponents 21-2 in the ninth inning this season ... Gaedele has 12 multi-hit games this season ... Will Hagel leads Valpo with five multi-RBI contests.