Baseball Heads to Wright State in Battle of League Leaders
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Baseball Heads to Wright State in Battle of League Leaders
Andrew Bain and the Crusaders look to remain in first place this weekend. (Jeff Golden)

Valparaiso (20-24, 12-4 Horizon)
Games #45-47 at Wright State (28-13, 11-4 Horizon)
Saturday, May 7, 12 p.m. CDT (DH)
Sunday, May 8, 12 p.m. CDT
Nischwitz Stadium - Dayton, Ohio

Up Next in Crusader Baseball: First place in the Horizon League is on the line this weekend as Valparaiso heads to Dayton, Ohio for a three-game weekend series at Wright State.  The Crusaders enter the weekend with a one-half game lead over the Raiders for the top spot in the conference with just three weekends remaining in the regular season.

On the Air: Both Saturday’s doubleheader and Sunday’s single game are scheduled to be shown live online through the Horizon League Network with a link being available on  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 115-149 (.436) 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: Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 5-5, 4.07) will take the mound for the Crusaders against Casey Henn (RHP, 4-3, 5.34) in the series opener on Saturday.  Damon McCormick (RHP, 4-5, 3.87) is slated to pitch game two of Saturday’s twin bill for Valpo against Michael Woytek (RHP, 6-2, 3.92).  On Sunday, Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 4-6, 3.62) will climb the hill for the Brown and Gold opposite Max Friedman (RHP, 3-2, 4.80).

Series Notes:
Wright State holds a 13-5 all-time series advantage over the Crusaders dating back to 1992.  Last season the Raiders swept a doubleheader at Valpo on April 23, winning by scores of 11-1 and 10-4 at Emory G. Bauer Field.  The three-game series scheduled for Dayton in late March was canceled due to the weather. 

Wrapping Up Northern Illinois:
The Huskies scored three times in the bottom of the ninth on Tuesday afternoon to post a 7-6 win over the Crusaders in DeKalb, Ill.  Michael Morman homered and drove home three runs for Valpo while Bobby Martin reached base four of his five trips to the plate.  The loss ended Valpo’s non-conference schedule for 2011.

Scouting Wright State:
The Raiders have won eight of their last nine games overall following a 6-5 win at Cincinnati on Wednesday .  Jake Hibberd leads Wright State offensively batting .404 with seven home runs and 41 runs batted in on a team that is batting .318 as a unit.  Michael Meintel leads a pitching staff that has a 4.12 team earned run average.  Meintel has a 0.52 ERA in 13 games while Michael Schum is 7-2 with seven saves and a 1.58 ERA.

Bain Swings Hot Bat: In the last month, Andrew Bain is batting .393 (24-for-61) while playing shortstop full time.  He has raised his season average nearly 200 points to .308, and has scored 13 times and driven home seven during the last 19 games.  He has struck out just five times in his last 61 at bats while laying down four sacrifice bunts and posting a .471 on base percentage since April 3.  He enters this weekend’s series having reached base in 11 straight games for the Brown and Gold.

Morman Shows Off Power: After failing to homer in his first 39 games of the season, he has hit two round-trippers and driven in five runs over the last three games.  The freshman second baseman is five for his last 13 (.385) since Sunday’s twinbill against Cleveland State.

Who Needs a Bullpen: Valpo hurlers Jon Gulbransen and Tyler Deetjen both tossed complete games for the Crusaders against Cleveland State on Sunday.  Valpo starters completed all five games against the Vikings in the five-game season series sweep this season.  The Crusaders have now logged eight complete games on the season, led by Deetjen’s four in his 11 starts.  

Manning’s a Tough Out: Chris Manning reached base in eight straight at bats for the Crusaders to start the Butler doubleheader.  The freshman had four hits in four at bats in the opener before adding two more hits to start game two.  He then drew a pair of walks in at bats number three and four before finally being retired in his final at bat of the day.

Bats Heat Up in League Play: Valparaiso is hitting a sizzling .301 in Horizon League action this season, second in the conference to just Wright State’s .351 clip.  Will Hagel leads seven regulars batting .300 or higher against league foes, hitting at a .373 clip.

Pitching Shuts Down the Horizon League: Valpo’s pitching staff has been solid throughout conference play.  The hurlers have posted a 2.22 ERA in 16 league games, allowing conference foes to hit just .220 against them.  More impressively, Crusader pitchers have struck out 115 while walking just 35.

Senior Day Set: Valparaiso will celebrate Senior Day on May 14 for the final home doubleheader of the season against Milwaukee.  Festivities honoring this year’s nine member senior class will begin at approximately 11:45 a.m.

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.

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.

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.  On April 25, Damon McCormick was the league’s Pitcher of the Week after striking tout 10 and allowing just two runs and four hits against Hawai’i.  Kyle Gaedele was also the Horizon League’s Player of the Week on April 25 after he batted .429 for the week (6-for-14).  He scored six times, recorded a triple, a home run, and was walked six times, including twice intentionally.

Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss It: Valparaiso’s baseball game times continue to move along.  The Crusaders are averaging just over 2:20 for the 39 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.

Gulbransen Moving Career List: Jon Gulbransen has moved into second place on Valpo’s career innings pitched list with 302.0 at Valpo, passing Tim Holmes (1984-1987).  He needs just 12.2 more innings to match Harvey Yergin (2004-2007) as the career record-holder at Valpo.  His 17 career victories are also seventh all-time in a Crusader uniform.  Gulbransen’s next win will move him into a tie for fourth on the career charts.

Career Lists Part Two: Jon Gulbransen also continues to climb the career strikeouts list at Valpo.  The southpaw has fanned 252 hitters during his career,  passing Bryce Shafer (2008-2010) for fourth on the career charts.  The southpaw is just one strikeout behind Shawn Barker (1987-1990) for third place on the all-time list and 42 out of the second spot.

Gaedele On Extra Base Charts: Kyle Gaedele has moved into fifth place on Valpo’s career doubles list with 43 two-baggers.  He is eight 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.

Also a Thief: Kyle Gaedele also is tied for third on the school’s career stolen base list with 46 over his first three years with the Brown and Gold.  He has been caught just five times in his career, and his 21 thefts this season are tied for fourth most on Valpo’s single season charts.

This and That: Will Hagel has reached base safely in 17 straight games ... Hagel has 16 multi-hit games and nine multi-RBI games, both of which lead the team ... Valpo has allowed two runs or less 16 times this year ... the Crusaders are finishing the season with nine of their last 11 games on the road.