Horizon League Leaders to Host Butler and Cleveland State
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Horizon League Leaders to Host Butler and Cleveland State
Robbie Robinson and the Crusaders look to continue to stay atop the Horizon League this weekend. (Ray Acevedo)

Valparaiso (17-22, 9-3 Horizon)
Games #40-41 vs. Butler (15-19, 4-8 Horizon)
Saturday, April 30, 12 p.m. CDT (DH)
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.
Games #42-43 vs. Cleveland State (8-29, 1-13 Horizon)
Sunday, May 1, 12 p.m. CDT (DH)

Up Next in Crusader Baseball: Having moved into first place, Valparaiso looks to continue its momentum in Horizon League play this weekend with doubleheaders against both Butler and Cleveland State.  The Crusaders have won 14 of their last 17 games overall, including seven straight conference contests.

On the Air: Both the doubleheader against Butler as well as the doubleheader against Cleveland State will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) as well as online at www.valpoathletics.com  Live stats will also be available through www.valpoathletics.com 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 112-147 (.432) 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, 2-1, 1.90) is slated to take the mound in game one on Saturday against Butler’s Dom Silvestri (RHP, 3-3, 2.88).  The nightcap of the series with the Bulldogs will have Damon McCormick (RHP, 3-5, 4.00) take the hill for Valpo against Kyle Kramp (RHP, 2-2, 8.37).  On Sunday, Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 4-5, 4.40) will be handed the ball in the opener against Cleveland State’s Nate Blankemeyer (RHP, 0-2, 7.07).  In the weekend finale, the Crusaders’ Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 3-6, 3.97) will battle the Vikings’ Nate Dick (RHP, 1-3, 5.17).

Series Notes: Valparaiso holds a 72-50-1 all-time advantage against Butler dating back to the 1952 season.  Earlier this season in Indianapolis, the Bulldogs took two of three from Valpo to open Horizon League action.  The Crusaders hold a 31-28 edge all-time against Cleveland State going back to 1984.  In Avon, Ohio on April 8-9, Valpo swept a three-game set against the Vikings.

Wrapping Up Recent Action:
Valparaiso traveled more than 4,000 miles each way to Hawai’i last weekend and defeated the Rainbows in two out of three games.  In Thursday’s opener, the Crusaders scored three times in the seventh and threw the potential tying run out at the plate in the ninth to win 8-7.  Hawai’i bounced back with a 9-8 victory on Friday in a game filled with 10 errors combined.  Valpo won the series finale on Saturday 7-2 after scoring five runs in the first inning in front of a sellout crowd at Les Murakami Stadium.  The Crusaders’ game against Purdue slated for Tuesday was canceled due to rain.

Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs have dropped three straight entering this weekend after being swept in a weekend series at home last Saturday and Sunday against UIC.  Grant Fillipitch leads Butler batting .373 with 13 doubles and 26 runs batted in.  Michael Letzter has homered four times and is hitting .364 on a team with a .291 batting average as a squad.  Butler’s pitching staff has a 5.38 earned run average, led by Brian Padove’s 2.81 mark in 15 appearances.

Scouting Cleveland State: The Vikings enter the weekend having dropped 15 of their last 17 games overall dating back to the first of April.  Cleveland State split midweek games, winning against Toledo and losing at Kent State, this week, and travel to Milwaukee on Saturday before visiting Valpo on Sunday.  Alex Johnson leads Cleveland State batting .277 with 20 runs batted in while Anthony Sambula has hit at a .276 clip on a team batting just .222.  The Vikings’ pitching staff has posted a 6.02 ERA, led by Clayton Ruch’s 3.86 mark in 21 appearances.

Gaedele Named Horizon League Player of the Week:
Junior outfielder Kyle Gaedele was this week’s Horizon League Player of the Week after he batted .429 for the week (6-for-14) which included a midweek game against Saint Francis (Ind.) in addition to the Hawai’i series.  He scored six times, recorded a triple, a home run, and was walked six times, including twice intentionally.  The junior outfielder posted a .619 on base percentage and a .786 slugging percentage.  He also stole a pair of bases and threw out the potential winning run at the plate in the opener of the Hawai’i series.

McCormick Earns Pitching Honors as Well: Damon McCormick pitched the Crusaders to the win on Saturday evening as Valpo defeated the Rainbows 7-2 in the series finale, helping him garner Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors.  The senior right-hander struck out 10 Hawai’i hitters in eight innings, allowing just two runs and four hits in front of a sellout crowd of 4,494.  He did not allow a hit after surrendering a leadoff triple in the third.

The Islands Know of Valpo: Valpo’s series victory over the Rainbows drew a paid attendance of 10,648 over the three games, the largest three-game series attendance in known history.  In addition, the series finale on Saturday drew 4,494, in what is believed to be the largest sell out crowd the Crusaders have ever played in front of on the baseball diamond.

Racking Up Miles:
After Valparaiso’s 4,284-mile trip each way to Honolulu last weekend, the Crusaders have now racked up 15,413 total miles traveling to and from games this season.  Barring rain outs, the Crusaders will be at 16,505 miles by the time the Brown and Gold returns from the Horizon League Tournament at the end of May.

Hagel On Fire: Will Hagel has been swinging a hot bat over his 10-game hitting streak which is the longest active streak on the team.  During the span he is batting .500 (20-for-40) with 15 runs batted in, a homer, and two doubles, and two triples.  He has also scored eight times and has tallied eight multi-hit contests in the 10 games.

Other Horizon League Honors:
Senior hurler Justin Frane was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week on April 18 after limiting Youngstown State to just one earned run and five hits over eight innings for his second victory of the season. 

Win Streak was Second Longest Ever: Valparaiso’s 10-game winning streak from April 6 through April 21 matched the second longest ever in program history.  Only a 12-game streak in 1958 has been longer in school history.

Quite a Turnaround: After starting the season 1-17, Valpo has posted a 16-5 record over the last 21 games. The Crusaders have pulled to within five games of the .500 mark with 15 regular season contests as well as the Horizon League Tournament still to be played.

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 36 nine-inning games in which they have played this season.  Valpo has gone over three hours just four times this year, two of which were 11-inning contests.  The Crusaders went 3:13 in the series opener at Hawai’i, one of just three games over two-and-a-half hours in all of April (16 games).

Go Speed Racers: Kyle Gaedele and Chris Manning have the Crusaders off and running on the base paths.  Gaedele is already 19-for-21 swiping bases, and is now 44-for-48 during his three-year career with the Brown and Gold.  Manning has nearly been as successful, stealing 16-of-19 attempted bases during his freshman year.  As a team, Valpo is 51-of-64 in stolen base attempts (79.7%) on the season, posting the best success rate in the Horizon League.

Gulbransen Moving Career List: Jon Gulbransen has moved into second place on Valpo’s career innings pitched list with 295.0 at Valpo, passing Tim Holmes (1984-1987).  He needs just 19.2 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 245 hitters during his career,  passing Tom Starck (2001-2004) for fifth on the career charts.  The southpaw is just five strikeouts behind Bryce Shafer (2008-2010) for fourth place and eight behind Shawn Barker (1987-1990) for third on the all-time list.

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 third on the triples list with 12, one three-bagger Robert Skaltsas (1974-1997) for second all-time.

This and That: Kyle Gaedele has reached safely in 26 straight games entering the weekend ... Valpo’s Senior Day will take place on May 14 with festivities beginning at 11:45 a.m. before the noon doubleheader against Milwaukee.