Valparaiso (15-30, 4-14 MVC)
at Evansville (29-21, 13-5 MVC)
Charles H. Braun Stadium | Evansville, Ind.
Thursday, May 19, 6 p.m. CT – RHP Colin Fields
Friday, May 20, 6 p.m. CT– LHP Jake Miller
Saturday, May 21, 1 p.m. CT – RHP Griffin McCluskey
Next Up in Valpo Baseball: The final weekend of the regular season is here for the Valparaiso University baseball team. The Beacons will look to play the role of spoiler as host Evansville enters the series just one game back of Southern Illinois for the Missouri Valley Conference regular-season title, which is up for grabs over the season’s final weekend. Furthermore, Valpo has its sights set on building up momentum going into next week’s MVC Tournament and still has an opportunity to improve its tournament seeding by overtaking Illinois State in the league standings with a successful weekend.
Recently in Valpo Baseball: Valpo dropped a one-run affair in last weekend’s series opener vs. Bradley as a late rally fell short in a 7-6 defeat on Friday. However, the Beacons bounced back in a big way with an 8-2 victory on Saturday before Bradley took Sunday’s rubber match by winning a 2-0 pitchers’ duel. Ryan Maka hit four home runs over the weekend including three on Friday, while Jake Miller and Griffin McCluskey turned in solid starts on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Valpo bullpen did its job over the course of the weekend as well.
Following the Beacons: All three games this weekend will air on ESPN3 with links to live video and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com. For in-game updates, follow @ValpoBaseball on Twitter.
Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack (167-265), 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: Valpo holds a 39-24 record in an all-time series with Evansville that dates back to 1948. The Beacons dropped three of four between the two teams last season and two of three in 2019. Their last series win over the Aces was also their last trip to Evansville, a 2018 series that marked the first MVC contests between the two squads.
Maka Earns National Player of the Week: Valpo freshman Ryan Maka was named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball newspaper on Monday, May 16 after a breakout series against Bradley that featured four home runs. He enjoyed the first three-homer game by a Missouri Valley Conference player in league play in the May 13 series opener against the Braves. In addition, Maka became the first Valpo player since 2018 (Blake Billinger) and just the second since 2008 to achieve that feat. That came as a part of a four-hit game to begin a three-game set that saw him record five extra-base knocks. Maka went 7-for-13 (.538) over the three games with six RBIs, six runs scored, 20 total bases and a 1.538 slugging percentage. The rookie outfielder followed his career-high four hits in the series opener with three hits in Valpo’s 8-2 victory on May 14. Maka was second on D1Baseball.com’s list of the top 30 hitting performances in the nation on Friday, May 13. He became just the 50th player nationally with a three-homer game this season. Maka became the first Valpo player to earn national Player of the Week honors since Colin Fields did so on March 15, 2021 following his no-hitter against Middle Tennessee State.
Miller Tabbed MVC Pitcher of the Week: Valpo starting pitcher Jake Miller earned the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week nod on May 16 after his strong start on May 14 vs. Bradley. The left-hander earned his team-leading fifth victory of 2022 by turning in seven shutout innings of dazzling three-hit, one-walk ball while recording nine strikeouts in an 8-2 triumph over the Braves. He racked up nine or more strikeouts in a game for the fourth time this season. Over his last two starts, the Valpo southpaw has combined for 16 strikeouts and just one walk. Miller became the second Valpo player to earn an MVC weekly award this season, joining Nolan Tucker, and the first Beacon to receive MVC Pitcher of the Week laurels this year. He joins Colin Fields (twice) and Easton Rhodehouse as the only Valpo players to earn MVC Pitcher of the Week honors since the program joined the Missouri Valley Conference.
A Look at the Leaderboards: Valpo ranks second in the Missouri Valley Conference in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.7 and leads the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 2.55. Bobby Nowak ranks 42nd nationally and tied for first in The Valley with eight saves. Colin Fields leads the MVC and ranks ninth in the nation with 108 strikeouts. He leads the MVC and ranks third nationally with 14.16 strikeouts per nine innings. Jake Miller ranks fourth in the MVC in strikeouts with 74 and fourth in strikeouts per nine innings at 11.42. Nolan Tucker ranks seventh in the league in hitting at .357 and 11th in on-base percentage at .424. Alex Ryan is tied for second in the league with four triples. Kyle Schmack is tied for seventh in The Valley with eight stolen bases.
Fields on the Single-Season Strikeout List: Colin Fields struck out nine on May 13 vs. Bradley, his 12th time in 13 starts with seven strikeouts or more this season. That lifted his season strikeout total to 108. He became the first Valpo hurler to rack up 100 strikeouts in a single season since Bryce Shafer in 2010. In addition, he climbed into the top 5 in program history in single-season strikeouts by surpassing Richard Scheub’s 103 in 1949. Fields is just the second player since 1972 to crack the program record book in single-season strikeouts. He is 19 strikeouts away from tying the program’s single-season strikeout record.
Name Year Ks
Tim Juran 1971 127
Bryce Shafer 2010 121
Tim Juran 1972 118
Jon Robisch 1962 113
Colin Fields 2022 108
Fields on the Career Strikeout List: After becoming the 12th player in program history to reach 200 career strikeouts on March 25 at St. Bonaventure, Valpo starting pitcher Colin Fields unlocked another achievement on April 1 at UIC, cracking the program’s career top 10. He did so in resounding fashion, fanning a career-high 13 to usurp Chuck Donley (212, 1991-1995) for 10th in program history. Furthermore, the 13 strikeouts marked the most by a Valpo pitcher in a single game since April 12, 2011, when Jon Gulbransen reached that same number in a game against Chicago State. He now has 258 career strikeouts, a number that ranks fifth in program history. During Valpo’s May 7 game vs. DBU, Fields passed his former teammate Jon Tieman on the career strikeout list. He surpassed Bryce Schafer (2008-2010, 250) and Shawn Barker (1987-1990, 253), who was Valpo teammates with Fields’ father Timm, in the May 13 start vs. Bradley. Fields needs 17 more strikeouts this season to surpass Dalton Lundeen for third in program history and finish with the program’s highest career strikeout total since 1972.
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 2008-2011 264
Colin Fields 2019-pres. 258
Shawn Barker 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
Other Notes Wrapping Up Bradley: L 7-6, W 8-2, L 2-0
- Valpo dropped the series opener despite outhitting the opponent for a third straight weekend as the Beacons fell on Friday while outhitting the Braves 14-11.
- Valpo dropped to 3-3 in one-run games on Friday and fell to 6-8 in games decided by two runs or fewer with a pair of those losses in the series.
- The Beacons permitted just four hits in Saturday’s victory, the fewest allowed by Valpo in league play this season and fewest since a three-hitter on April 1 at UIC.
- The Beacon bullpen was excellent all weekend, allowing just six hits and three walks over 10 innings of two-run ball, with both runs coming on a two-run homer.
In the Other Dugout: Evansville
- Coming off a 3-2 loss to Murray State in a midweek game, their third consecutive setback after dropping the final two games of a weekend series at DBU.
- Have exceeded expectations as they enter the final weekend in the mix for the league title after being picked seventh in the preseason poll.
- Prior to the series loss at DBU, had won eight straight MVC games including back-to-back home sweeps of Bradley and Illinois State.
- Led offensively by Mark Shallenberger, who is hitting .352 with 11 home runs, 53 RBIs and a .612 slugging percentage.
Nowak Nailing It Down: Bobby Nowak nailed down his eighth save of the season in the 11-10 victory at Southern Illinois on May 1, moving to within one save of cracking the single-season Top 5 in the program record book. Nowak now owns Valpo’s highest single-season save total since 2014, when Karch Kowalczyk had 11. In addition, Nowak now ranks tied for ninth in program history in career saves despite being in his first season at Valpo. Entering this weekend at Evansville, Nowak is tied for the MVC lead with eight saves, joining DBU’s Chandler Arnold.
Valpo’s Career Saves List
- Jarad Miller, 2008-2012, 36
- Karch Kowalczyk, 2010-2014, 24
- Adam Knobel, 2002-2005, 14
- Justin Craker, 1998-2001, 13
- Easton Rhodehouse, 2017-2021, 11
T-6. Dallas Cawiezell, 2005-2007, 10
T-6. Jon Tieman, 2017-2021, 10
- Adam Paetznick, 2001-2004, 9
T-9. Chip Pettit, 1993-1996, 8
T-9. Bobby Nowak, 2022, 8
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
- #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... Logged seven dazzling innings of two-run, two-hit ball while striking out a career-high 13 and walking three to improve to 4-0 in an 8-3 victory at UIC in Game 2 of a doubleheader on April 1. He became the first Valpo hurler to strike out 13 in a game since 2011 and climbed into the program’s all-time top-10 in career strikeouts... Logged six scoreless innings of five-hit ball while striking out eight in the MVC opener on April 9 vs. Indiana State. That outing came against a team that entered the game leading the MVC and ranking 16th nationally in batting average. He jumped two more places on the program’s career strikeout list, advancing to eighth in program history... Took his first loss of the season on April 15 at Illinois State as he was touched for seven runs on 10 hits in five innings, his first rough outing of the year... Struck out seven over five innings of six-hit, three-run ball on April 23 in Game 1 of a doubleheader vs. Missouri State. He surpassed his season strikeout total from last season in that game, already notching the program’s highest single-season strikeout total since 2015 with five projected starts remaining... Received a tough-luck loss on April 29 at SIU, striking out nine while scattering five hits and walking three during his six innings of two-run ball, a quality start... Allowed five runs (four earned) on four hits while walking three and striking out eight to pass his former teammate Jon Tieman (2017-2021, 244) for seventh on Valpo’s career strikeout list on May 7 vs. DBU... Reached the 250-career strikeout milestone and the 100-season strikeout milestone as part of a nine-strikeout performance on May 13 vs. Bradley, when he climbed into fifth in single-season program history and fifth in career program history in strikeouts.
- #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... Pitched Valpo to a 5-2 victory on April 3 at UIC, the rubber-match of a three-game series with the Flames. He tossed seven innings of two-run, six-hit ball, walking none while racking up a career-high 11 strikeouts... Took the defeat in his first MVC start in Game 1 of a doubleheader vs. Indiana State on April 10... Picked up the win on April 16 at Illinois State, allowing one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings while walking two and striking out five... Struck out nine while allowing four runs on five hits in six innings in Game 2 of an April 23 doubleheader vs. Missouri State, receiving no decision... Received no decision on April 30 at SIU... Struck out seven against no walks while allowing three runs on 10 hits in five innings on May 7 vs. DBU... Earned MVC Pitcher of the Week honors following his May 14 start vs. Bradley when he tossed seven shutout innings of three-hit ball while walking one and striking out nine.
- #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... Made his first start of the season on April 5 in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Milwaukee and allowed three runs on four hits in four innings while walking one and striking out three to take a tough-luck defeat... Made his first career weekend start on April 10 in Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. Indiana State. He received no decision after allowing four runs on seven hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings... Earned his first collegiate victory in his hometown of Normal on April 17, pitching Valpo to a 2-1 win over Illinois State on Easter Sunday. He allowed just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out five over six strong innings... Took the defeat in the April 24 series finale vs. Missouri State, allowing five runs on five hits while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings... Earned the win by allowing four runs on six hits and two walks over five innings in the May 1 series finale at SIU... Allowed five runs (four earned) over 4 1/3 innings on May 8 vs. DBU... Took a tough-luck loss in Valpo’s 2-0 defeat on May 15 vs. Bradley when he allowed two runs on six hits and one walk over five frames.
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... Posted four RBIs in the second game of the April 1 doubleheader at UIC, becoming the first Valpo player with a four-RBI game this season... Saw his nine-game hitting streak come to an end in Game 1 of an April 5 doubleheader at Milwaukee, but he reached base three times including a pair of hits in the nightcap... Posted five hits in the April 29 series opener at Southern Illinois, becoming the first Valpo player with a five-hit game since Scott Kapers on May 8, 2018 at Western Michigan.
- #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... Saw his 11-game hit streak end in the April 9 series opener vs. Indiana State, but bounced back by notching four hits in the middle game of the series on April 10, tying a career high and becoming the second Beacon with a four-hit game this season... Had two hits in each game of a doubleheader on April 23 vs. Missouri State, reaching the 100-hit milestone for his collegiate career.
- #27 Kyle Schmack, LF, 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... Reached base 10 times in the April 1 doubleheader at UIC and made an impressive catch while crashing into the left-field fence in the eighth inning, a play that checked in at No. 9 on D1Baseball’s Top 10 Plays of the Week... Posted his first career two-homer game on April 16 at Illinois State, launching a pair of long balls in Valpo’s 10-2 victory over the Redbirds. He scored four runs in the game, becoming the first Valpo player to score four times in a game since May 8, 2018 vs. Western Michigan (both Chad Jacob and Blake Billinger)... Had two hits in the April 29 series opener at SIU, reaching the 100 career hit milestone in the process... Slugged his seventh home run of the season on May 7 vs. DBU, moving into a tie for the team lead.
- #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 Brewers… 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... Drilled his fifth home run of the season on April 16 at Illinois State as part of a 10-2 win... Hit his sixth home run of the season and the 10th of his career to account for Valpo’s lone run on April 19 at No. 18 Notre Dame... Belted his seventh home run of the season and the 11th of his career on April 23 vs. Missouri State... Delivered a bases-clearing double on April 26 at Purdue.
- #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... Lined his first home run of the season and the second of his career on April 12 at Eastern Illinois... Lashed out four hits and was a homer away from the natural cycle after recording a single, double and triple in that order in his first three plate appearances on April 30 at SIU, becoming the first Beacon with multiple four-hit games this year... Hit .667 (8-for-12) over a three-game series at SIU (April 30-May 1)... Named the MVC Player of the Week on May 2.
- #5 Jeremy Drudge, DH, 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... Ripped a bases-clearing double in the ninth inning on April 12 at Eastern Illinois.
- #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... Became the first Valpo player since 2018 and second since 2008 to notch a three-homer game on May 13, 2022 vs. Bradley. Had four home runs in that series and five extra-base hits en route to earning Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Week recognition.
- #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... Had his first career multi-hit game and reached base four times on April 26 at Purdue... Notched his first career extra-base hit as one of the team’s two hits in the second game of a May 7 doubleheader vs. DBU.
- #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... Belted his first collegiate home run on May 1 at SIU... Recorded his team-leading fourth triple of the season on May 8 vs. DBU, becoming just the third player in the conference with four triples this year.
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... Took the defeat on April 12 at Eastern Illinois, allowing six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings... Had his longest outing of the season on April 19 at No. 18 Notre Dame, logging six innings of six-hit, three-run ball. All three runs and four of the six hits came in the first inning. He struck out a season-high four and issued no walks... Turned in a strong start but received no decision on April 26 at Big Ten foe Purdue. He was charged with five runs on six hits while walking one and striking out four over six plus innings... Worked three shutout innings of one-hit ball while walking one and striking out two in a relief appearance vs. DBU on May 7... Did not allow a run over 2 2/3 innings of three-hit ball with one walk and three strikeouts on May 13 vs. Bradley.
- #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... Turned in an inning of scoreless relief on April 19 at No. 18 Notre Dame.l
- #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.
- #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... Had two hits on April 5 in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Milwaukee, accounting for half of the team’s hits in that contest... Homered in both games of the April 10 doubleheader vs. Indiana State, launching his second and third home runs of the season. He drove in four in the nightcap, becoming just the second Valpo player with a four-RBI game this season.
- #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... Nailed down his sixth save on April 3, working a perfect ninth in the rubber match of a three-game series at UIC... Worked a scoreless ninth on April 17 at Illinois State, preserving a 2-1 win for his seventh save of the season. He moved into a tie for 10th in program history in career saves... Converted his eighth save of the season on May 1 at Southern Illinois, recording the final six outs to move into tied for ninth on the program’s career saves list... Fired a scoreless ninth while retiring the side in order and striking out a pair in the May 8 series finale vs. DBU.
- #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... Pitched 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen during the series vs. Indiana State (April 9-10), allowing one run (which scored after he left the game) on three hits over two outings... Pitched two innings and allowed just one run (a solo homer) to finish out a 10-2 win at Illinois State on April 16... Fired four shutout innings of one-hit ball while striking out five and walking none on May 7 vs. DBU.
- #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... Logged three shutout innings of two-hit ball out of the bullpen on April 15 in the series opener at Illinois State.
- #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... After missing the previous weekend due to an injury, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen on April 15 at Illinois State.
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... Started all three games of the April 29 – May 1 series at Southern Illinois, his first action at catcher this season... Launched his first collegiate home run in the middle game of the three-game series.
- #4 Spencer Warfield, RF, 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.
- #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.
- #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.
- • #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... Had two hits on April 5 in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Milwaukee, accounting for half of the team’s hits in that contest... Homered in both games of the April 10 doubleheader vs. Indiana State, launching his second and third home runs of the season. He drove in four in the nightcap, becoming just the second Valpo player with a four-RBI game this season.
- 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.