March 04, 2023123456789RHE
Little Rock101101200681
Win: Spencer (1-0) 0.200001
Loss: FRERS (0-2) 1.021110
Renfro (VALPO) 423310
BAUMBACH (LR) 323212

March 04, 2023123456789RHE
Little Rock010011000371
Win: Lockwood (2-0) 6.063313
Loss: VAUGHT (0-1) 1.135520
Skrine (VALPO) 413400
RHOADES (LR) 412100

March 05, 20231234567RHE
Little Rock527111118221
Win: BREWER (1-0) 3.000033
Loss: Mintz (0-1) 1.055410
Thurston (VALPO) 422201
Olive (VALPO) 322101
WILLIAMS (LR) 534200
Baseball Looks to Keep Good Times Rolling in Little Rock
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
Baseball Looks to Keep Good Times Rolling in Little Rock

Valparaiso (4-2, 0-0 MVC)
at Little Rock (4-2, 0-0 OVC)
Gary Hogan Field (2,250) | Little Rock, Ark.

Friday, March 3, 3 p.m. – RHP Griffin McCluskey
Saturday, March 4, 2 p.m. – RHP Connor Lockwood
Sunday, March 5, 1 p.m. – RHP Ryan Mintz

Next Up in Valpo Baseball: After starting the season with a 4-2 record including a solid showing against power-five foe Kansas and a series sweep at UT Martin, the Valparaiso University baseball team will look to keep the mojo going with this weekend’s trip to Little Rock. This will be the first stop of the team’s annual spring-break road trip, a lengthy journey that will continue on to Mississippi State for a midweek matchup before finishing with a three-game set at Southern Miss. 

Last Time Out: Valpo went on the road and achieved a series sweep of UT Martin, capped off by a 17-4 shellacking of the Skyhawks in the series finale. That came after a dramatic 5-4, 10-inning victory on Saturday that saw the Beacons fend off being down to their last out in the ninth. Valpo won the series opener in convincing fashion by a 10-2 score. 

Following the Beacons: All three games this weekend will be broadcast on ESPN+. Links to live video and stats will be available on For all the latest in Valpo baseball, follow @ValpoBaseball on Twitter and Instagram.

Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack (172-269) is in his 10th season in charge of the program. He ranks third in program history in seasons coached and games coached as he enters 2023 having skippered 435 Valpo games. He enters the season with 168 victories, one of four coaches in program history with over 150. 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 made one prior visit to Little Rock back in 2009, when head coach Tracy Woodson’s team bounced back from dropping the opener 5-0 to win the series by prevailing 2-0 and 10-8 in the remaining games.

In the Other Dugout – Little Rock

  • Little Rock was picked to finish fourth of nine in the OVC preseason poll.
  • The Trojans feature one Preseason All-OVC choice, starting pitcher Jackson Wells.
  • The department is in its first season in the OVC.
  • Little Rock is in a stretch of games against MVC opponents after splitting a doubleheader with Bradley last weekend. They won the opener 2-0 before dropping the second game 19-9 in 10 innings (yes, the game went extras and was decided by 10 runs).
  • The Trojans won two of three against South Dakota State and picked up a midweek victory over Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Strong Start

  • Valpo has won four of its first six games for the second consecutive season.
  • Prior to last season, Valpo had not featured a record of 4-2 or better through six games since 2009.
  • The Beacons are ranked 58th in the RPI and have the top RPI in the Missouri Valley Conference.

Bringing Out the Brooms

  • Valpo’s three-game sweep of UT Martin marked the program’s first series sweep of three or more games since May 10-12, 2019 vs. Southern Illinois at Emory G. Bauer Field.
  • This was the team’s first sweep of a road series of three or more games since March 18-20, 2016 at Northern Kentucky.
  • Not only did Valpo polish off the sweep on Sunday, Feb. 26, but the Beacons invoked the 10-run rule with a 17-4 blowout. The 17 runs marked Valpo’s highest total since also scoring 17 on May 1, 2021 at Illinois State.
  • The Beacons notched 17 hits for the second time in the series in Sunday’s series finale. Prior to that series, the program had not recorded 17 or more hits in a game since 18 in the aforementioned May 1, 2021 game against the Redbirds.
  • They had not notched 17 or more hits in a road game since May 8, 2018 at Western Michigan.
  • The 13-run margin of victory was Valpo’s largest since beating Milwaukee 23-5 on April 11, 2018.
  • Valpo hit four home runs in the series finale, its highest single-game home run total since launching five on May 1, 2021 vs. Illinois State.
  • The three-game series against the Skyhawks saw Valpo produce 32 runs on 46 hits while batting .383 and slugging seven home runs.

Bonus Baseball

  • While Valpo won two of the three games at UT Martin in lopsided fashion, the middle game of the series featured significant late drama. UT Martin took the lead by scoring twice in the eighth, then Valpo tied it despite being down to its final out in the ninth before winning it with a run in the 10th.
  • This was Valpo’s first extra-inning game since April 26 of last season, a 6-5 loss at Purdue.
  • This was the squad’s first extra-inning victory since a 6-4 win over Missouri State in the opening round of the MVC Tournament on May 25, 2021.
  • The 6-5 edging of UT Martin was Valpo’s first one-run win since May 1, 2022 at Southern Illinois, an 11-10 triumph.

Beacon Bombs

  • Valpo leads the Missouri Valley Conference and ranks 12th nationally with 2.17 home runs per game.
  • The Beacons rank second in The Valley and 24th nationally with 13 total long balls.
  • Valpo has already launched 13 home runs this season through just six games. Last year, Valpo had only 15 home runs in the 20 Missouri Valley Conference contests. The Beacons did not hit their 13th home run of 2022 until the 19th game of the season on March 29.
  • Kyle Schmack has drilled four home runs this season, tied with SIU’s Steven Loden for the league lead. Schmack hit two home runs in the Feb. 26 game at UT Martin.
  • Schmack is tied for 13th nationally in home runs.
  • Nolan Tucker has cracked three home runs on the year, one of six players in the MVC tied for third in home runs.
  • Entering this year, Tucker had two home runs in 57 career games. He has three home runs in six games this season.
  • Valpo also holds the league lead in batting average (.296) and on-base percentage (.402).
  • In the series against Little Rock, Ryan Maka (.571) and Nolan Tucker (.533) both hit over .500.

Pitching Prowess

  • The offense has given us plenty to write about, but the Valpo pitching should not be overlooked.
  • The Beacons lead the Missouri Valley Conference in team ERA at 3.12, over two full runs ahead of the second-place team.
  • Valpo is also atop the Valley in opponents’ batting average, holding the opposition to .209.
  • Valpo ranks 24th nationally in ERA and 26th in hits allowed per nine innings (6.92).
  • In the Feb. 26 game at UT Martin, Jacob Rosenkranz was awarded his first collegiate victory. He allowed one run on two hits while walking two and striking out three in 3 1/3 innings.
  • The middle game of the series in Tennessee also saw a Beacon notch his first Valpo victory. Bobby Nowak was charged with no runs on one hit and one walk while striking out six in 2 1/3 innings to obtain the W.
  • Connor Lockwood leads the league in innings pitched (13 1/3), ranks second in opponents batting average (.136) and ranks third in ERA (1.35).

Jumping on the Jayhawks

  • Valpo’s 11-3 win in the middle game of the series vs. Kansas represented the program’s first win over a Power-5 conference opponent since knocking off No. 25 Illinois 11-7 on April 17, 2018.
  • This marked Valpo’s second Big 12 win of the Brian Schmack Era and first since beating Oklahoma 11-4 on Feb. 24, 2018.
  • The 11 runs represented the team’s highest single-game run total since beating Southern Illinois 11-10 on May 1 of last season.

Lockwood = Locked In

  • Connor Lockwood built on his late-season success from 2022 in his first outing of 2023, delivering seven shutout innings of two-hit ball while walking none and fanning six to earn the victory in Saturday’s 11-3 triumph vs. Kansas.
  • The seven innings marked the longest outing of Lockwood’s career after he went no longer than six as a freshman last season.
  • This was the first outing of Lockwood’s career where he pitched shutout ball while throwing more than three innings.
  • The six strikeouts outdid his previous career high of four.
  • By virtue of his successful outing against the Jayhawks, Lockwood was tabbed the MVC Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 20. He joins Jake Miller, Colin Fields (twice) and Easton Rhodehouse as the only Valpo hurlers to garner MVC Pitcher of the Week accolades since the program joined the Missouri Valley Conference.

Power Surge

  • Valpo slugged six home runs in the season-opening series with the Jayhawks, including two from Jake Skrine, a graduate transfer from Indiana University who was competing in his first weekend with the Brown & Gold. Skrine’s home runs were the first two of his collegiate career.
  • Kade Reinertson’s three-run big fly in Saturday’s game played a crucial role in the outcome. That was his first collegiate home run and came as part of a four-RBI game. He entered the day with one RBI in his first 23 career games.
  • Kyle Schmack spanked the 10th homer of his Valpo career, while Brady Renfro had his 12th and Nolan Tucker contributed his third.
  • The most home runs Valpo hit in a single series last year was three. The six home runs in Corpus Christi marked Valpo’s most in a series since six in a home set with Illinois State from April 30 – May 2, 2021, and that was a four gamer.
  • Through one weekend of games, Valpo is tied for 22nd nationally in home runs and is one of 39 teams in the nation with six or more long balls.

Other Notes Wrapping up Kansas

  • Grant Jablonski worked 3 1/3 shutout innings of hitless ball while striking out four and walking one in Sunday’s game. That marked his career high in terms of both innings pitched and strikeouts. He faced the minimum as the only player who reached base against him was erased on a double play.
  • Redshirt sophomore Matt Olive made his season debut in Sunday’s game as the designated hitter. That was his first appearance since March 13, 2022 after he missed the bulk of last season with an injury.
  • Valpo outhit the Jayhawks 5-4 in Sunday’s game and owned an overall 17-14 edge in the hit column over the three games.
  • Four of Kansas’ six runs in the rubber match were unearned tallies.
  • Valpo pitchers notched 10 strikeouts on opening day and fanned 26 Jayhawks over the three games.

Inside the Schedule

  • The 2023 nonconference schedule will see Valpo take on opponents from nine different conferences including four of the power five – the Big 12, ACC, Big Ten and SEC as well as the Ohio Valley Conference, Sun Belt, Summit League, Horizon League and Mid-American Conference.
  • Valpo will make a trip to preseason top-25 Southern Miss (March 10-12) to match up with a team that won Conference USA last season as part of a 47-19 record, hosting and winning an NCAA Regional before making an NCAA Super Regional appearance.
  • Valpo will play twice at Notre Dame (March 21, April 18), a team that reached the College World Series as part of a 41-7 season last year.


  • Valpo’s program produced a pair of pitchers who went on to continue their careers in professional organizations following the 2022 spring.
  • Left-hander Jake Miller was selected with the 237th overall pick in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Detroit Tigers. He became Valpo’s first draft choice since Scott Kapers was selected in the 17th round of the 2018 draft by the Texas Rangers.
  • Miller was Valpo’s highest draft choice since 2010, when Kyle Gaedele went to the San Diego Padres in the sixth round. The New York native was the highest Missouri Valley Conference pitcher taken in the 2022 draft.
  • Miller made his professional debut by pitching in five games in 2022 for the Lakeland Flying Tigers of the Class-A Florida State League.
  • Right-hander Colin Fields was signed by the Tigers as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 draft.
  • Miller and Fields are part of a long list of Tiger ties within Valpo’s program. Valpo legend Lloyd McClendon was on the Tigers big league coaching staff from 2006-2013 and 2017-2020 including a stint as interim manager, former Valpo players Bo McClendon and Dalton Lundeen were also drafted by the Tigers, Valpo head coach Brian Schmack played in the big leagues with the Tigers in 2003 and current Valpo player Patrick Ilitch is the grandson of longtime Tigers owner Michael Ilitch (1992-2017) and the nephew of current owner Christopher Ilitch (2017-present).

Who’s Back, Who’s Gone, Who’s New?

  • The Valpo offense is loaded with returning talent in 2023 as 82.7 percent of the team’s hits from last season came from players who are back for the 2023 campaign. The top six Beacons in terms of batting average return and 11 of the 15 position players who saw action a year ago are back with the program.
  • Relievers Nathan Chasey and Bobby Nowak are back after posting the club’s top two ERAs a year ago, but the top two arms in the weekend rotation – Jake Miller and Colin Fields – were snatched up by the Detroit Tigers.
  • Valpo’s newcomers include five freshmen (Kyle Tyler, Will Radich, Adam Guazzo, Cole Syversen and Thomas Cooper), two junior college transfers (Josh Spencer and Kaleb Krier) and one four-year transfer (Jake Skrine, Indiana).

Tucker’s Tear: Nolan Tucker hauled in several awards at the conclusion of the 2023 campaign as he was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper while also earning All-Missouri Valley Conference First Team and MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team honors. He was in his third season on campus but qualified for the Freshman All-American honor based on receiving a medical redshirt in 2021 and the 2020 campaign not counting toward eligibility due to COVID-19. Tucker finished his 2023 season second in the conference in batting average both overall (.365) and in league play (.384). He also ranked ninth in the league in on-base percentage (.440) and had four hits on three different occasions. He finished with the highest batting average by a Valpo player since Ryan O’Gara hit .388 in 2010, making a significant jump after entering the season with a .188 batting average. He finished a home run shy of the natural cycle on April 30 at Southern Illinois as his single, double and triple came in that order as part of a four-hit game. That helped him earn MVC Player of the Week on May 2.

Sophomore Jump: Valpo shortstop Alex Thurston enjoyed a sophomore jump rather than a sophomore slump last season. After hitting .158 as a freshman, Thurston finished the season with a .301 batting average, the second-best on the team and one of two Beacons to finish the year above the .300 line.

Renfro’s Rise: After finishing with a .231 batting average in 2021 both overall and in MVC play, Brady Renfro hit for Valpo’s second-highest batting average in league play last year. He ranked fifth on the team with a .252 nonconference batting average, but did his best offensive work in league play, where he finished second on the squad with a .319 average.

National Player of the Week: Valpo freshman Ryan Maka was named a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball newspaper on May 16 of last season after a breakout series against Bradley that featured four home runs. He enjoyed the first three-homer game of the season 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’s list of the top 30 hitting performances in the nation on Friday, May 13. 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.

Nowak Nailing It Down: Bobby Nowak nailed down eight saves last season, finishing just outside the program’s single-season top 5. He finished with Valpo’s highest single-season save total since 2014, when Karch Kowalczyk had 11. In addition, Nowak enters 2023 ranked tied for ninth in program history in career saves despite having pitched just one season at Valpo. 

Valpo’s Career Saves List

  1. Jarad Miller, 2008-2012, 36
  2. Karch Kowalczyk, 2010-2014, 24
  3. Adam Knobel, 2002-2005, 14
  4. Justin Craker, 1998-2001, 13
  5. Easton Rhodehouse, 2017-2021, 11

T-6. Dallas Cawiezell, 2005-2007, 10

T-6. Jon Tieman, 2017-2021, 10

  1. Adam Paetznick, 2001-2004, 9

T-9. Chip Pettit, 1993-1996, 8

T-9. Bobby Nowak, 2022, 8

Pitching Profiles

  • #38 RHP Griffin McCluskey, Jr. (Normal, Ill. / Normal Community) – As a freshman, got the starting nod on May 11, 2021 vs. No. 8 Notre Dame 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... Earned his first collegiate victory in his hometown of Normal on April 17, 2022, 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... Was Valpo’s 2023 opening day starter vs. Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas... Picked up his first win of the season with five innings of one-run, four-hit ball while striking out four on Feb. 24 at UT Martin.
  • #11 RHP Connor Lockwood, So. (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... Finished his freshman season with an 0-5 record and 7.30 ERA in 2022, but did his best work late in the year, posting a 1.80 ERA over his last three regular-season starts... Pitched three scoreless innings of one-hit ball on May 7 vs. DBU before working 2 2/3 shutout frames while allowing one hit on May 13 vs. Bradley... Started his 2023 season with a gem, earning the win thanks to a career-long seven innings and a career-high six strikeouts while allowing no runs on two hits and walking none in an 11-3 victory over Big 12 foe Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas on Feb. 18... Logged 6 1/3 innings of two-run, four-hit ball while striking out six on Feb. 25 at UT Martin.
  • #39 RHP Ryan Mintz (Jr*., 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... Started eight games over his first two seasons but all 12 appearances in 2022 came in relief... Worked 2 2/3 scoreless innings on March 19, 2022 at Murray State... Tossed three shutout frames on April 15, 2022 at Illinois State.
  • #10 LHP Christian Hack, So. (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... Appeared in six games out of the Valpo bullpen and logged 6 2/3 innings as a freshman in 2022... Finished out the Feb. 26 win at UT Martin with 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball while yielding one hit.
  • #12 RHP Jacob Rosenkranz, Jr*. (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) – Lived in Texas for 13 years... Favorite TV show is Breaking Bad... Made five appearances in 2020 (COVID shortened), 13 in 2021 (one start) and 12 in 2022... Finished the 2022 season with a 5.79 ERA, but if you take out two bad outings (March 13 at SEMO and April 10 vs. Indiana State), he had a 1.84 ERA over his other 10 games... Earned his first career win with 3 1/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball on Feb. 26 at UT Martin.
  • #16 RHP Josh Cottrill, R-So. (Pewaukee, Wis. / Pewaukee) – Redshirted in 2021 during his first season on campus, then logged 8 2/3 innings in seven games out of the bullpen in 2022... Best outing of 2022 came on April 1 at UIC, when he did not allow a hit or walk over 2 2/3 shutout innings while striking out three... 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... Pitched a shutout inning on Feb. 24 at UT Martin.
  • #32 RHP Bobby Nowak, Sr. (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central) – Hobbies include hunting and fishing... Favorite movie is Indiana Jones... Touted as a pitcher with strength who can spin it well... Received 2022 All-MVC Honorable Mention... Nailed down eight saves in 2022, one shy of cracking the program’s single-season top five... Had Valpo’s highest single-season save total since 2014... Finished his first season at Valpo already ranked ninth in program history in career saves... Ranked second on the team in ERA at 5.09 while appearing in 17 games out of the bullpen in 2022... Earned his first career win while striking out six in 2 1/3 innings on Feb. 25 at UT Martin.
  • #34 RHP Grant Jablonski, Jr*. (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) – Appeared in four games in 2021 and two in 2020 before appearing in nine games in 2022... 2019 Indiana All-Star while earning all-state honors... Favorite TV show is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia... Worked 3 1/3 shutout innings of hitless ball while striking out four and walking one in his Feb. 19 season debut vs. Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas. That marked his career high in terms of both innings pitched and strikeouts. He faced the minimum as the only player who reached base against him was erased on a double play.
  • #42 RHP Nathan Chasey, Sr.* (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... Posted a 4.76 ERA in 14 relief appearances in 2022... Allowed one run on four hits in four innings in the Feb. 17 season opener vs. Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas... Allowed one run on two hits over three innings on Feb. 24 at UT Martin.

Position Player Profiles

  • #6 Alex Thurston, SS, Jr. (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... Posted five hits on April 29, 2022 at Southern Illinois, becoming the first Valpo player with a five-hit game since Scott Kapers on May 8, 2018 at Western Michigan... After hitting .158 in 2021, made a significant jump with a team-high .301 batting average in 2022 while playing in 47 games, all starts.
  • #15 Kaleb Hannahs, 3B, Jr. (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, Valpo has two sons of Missouri Valley Conference head baseball coaches in the starting lineup… 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… Earned MVC Player of the Week on May 3, 2021 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... 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 as the No. 3 prospect in the Missouri Valley Conference for the 2023 MLB Draft... Named to the 2022 MVC All-Defensive Team... Led the team in runs scored with 36 while starting all 48 games in 2022, posting a .275 batting average.
  • #27 Kyle Schmack, OF, Jr*. (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... Ripped his third home run of the season and fifth of his career in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 19, 2022 at Murray State, his 21st birthday... Reached base 10 times in the April 1, 2022 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)... Hit for a .292 average that ranked third on the team in 2022 while also tying for the club lead in both home runs (seven) and RBIs (27)... Hit his first home run of the 2023 season on Feb. 19 vs. Kansas.
  • #30 Brady Renfro, 1B, Jr. (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… 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... Named All-MVC Honorable Mention... Was one of two players to start all 48 games for Valpo in 2022... Tied for the team lead in both home runs (seven) and RBIs (27) while also posting a .275 batting average during the 2022 campaign... Hit .319 in MVC play in 2022, ranking second on the team in league-only batting average while driving in a team-high 11 runs in Valley action... Drilled a solo homer in the Feb. 17, 2023 season opener vs. Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • #1 Nolan Tucker, 2B, R-So*. (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… 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... 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, 2022 at SIU... Hit .667 (8-for-12) over a three-game series at SIU (April 30-May 1, 2022)... Named the MVC Player of the Week on May 2, 2022... 2022 All-MVC First Team, MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American (qualified due to medical redshirt year and COVID year despite being in his third season on campus)... Led the team in hitting and finished with Valpo’s highest single-season batting average since 2010 at .365... Had his first home run of the season and the third of his career on Feb. 19 vs. Kansas in Corpus Christi, Texas... Hit .533 and launched two home runs in the series sweep at UT Martin.   
  • #22 Ryan Maka, OF, So. (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... Delivered his first collegiate home run on March 29, 2022 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... Ranked third on the team in MVC-only batting average at .286 and tied for the team lead with four home runs in Valley play in 2022... Hit .571 in the series sweep at UT Martin.
  • #19 Kade Reinertson, C., R-So. (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... Played in 22 games and made 17 starts in 2022... Had his first career home run – a three-run bomb as part of a four-RBI day – in Valpo’s 11-3 victory over Kansas on Feb. 18. 
  • #17 Alex Ryan, OF, Jr. (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... Played in 46 games (44 starts) in 2022... Tied for second in the league in triples and also tied for second in the MVC with five sacrifice bunts in 2022.
  • #4 Spencer Warfield, OF, So. (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... Appeared in 18 games and made 13 starts during his freshman season in 2022.
  • #9 Matt Olive, LF, R-So., (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) – Majoring in mechanical engineering with minors in Spanish and mathematics… 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... Received a medical redshirt for the 2022 campaign after playing in just five games prior to a season-ending injury.... Was in the lineup at designated hitter on Feb. 19 vs. Kansas, making his first appearance since March 13, 2022 after missing the bulk of last season with an injury.
  • #5 Jake Skrine, C/DH, Sr. – Joined the program prior to the 2023 season as a Big 10 transfer from Indiana University... Pursuing a public health certificate... Lived in Puerto Rico for two years... Favorite MLB player is Hank Aaron... Spanked his first collegiate home run – a solo shot – in an 11-3 win over Kansas on Feb. 18 in Corpus Christi, Texas... Wasted no time in notching his second home run of the season the very next day in the Feb. 19 series finale vs. Kansas.

Who’s Next? 

  • It’s never too early to glance ahead to 2024, as the program has announced four signees for next season, all pitchers.
  • Lucas Foley (Deer Park, Ill. / Lake Zurich), Bennett Musser (Round Lake, Ill. / Mundelein), Jake Jakubowski (Lake in the Hills, Ill. / Huntley [Heartland]) and Jack Thompson (Rosemount, Minn. / Rosemount) have signed to join the program for the 2023-2024 academic and athletic year.
  • Thoughts from Head Coach Brian Schmack on the Incoming Class: “The goal going into recruiting for the 2023 class was identifying strike throwers who can fit into our pitching philosophy. We think we found four guys who will be able to come in and compete in the zone immediately. We also look at each of the guys and think there is some runway for them physically to be able to gain strength and velocity as they mature and get into our lifting program.”

Inside the Assistants: Top assistant Kory Winter returns to head coach Brian Schmack’s staff this season, while assistant coaches Jeff Mayes and Trey Matthews have 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.
  • Jeff Mayes is in his first season on the Valpo coaching staff, serving as the team’s infield coach. He spent the previous three seasons on staff at his alma mater Aurora University, a Division-III institution in Illinois, where the program amassed an 83-21 record during his tenure. Prior to that, he enjoyed a standout playing career for the Spartans.
  • Trey Matthews joined the staff prior to the 2023 campaign. He serves as the team’s catching coach. Matthews grew up in Florida and played at Plant City High School before continuing his playing career at Southern Western University. He transferred to Warner University, where he graduated in 2020 before beginning his coaching career with stints at a Florida high school and at Warner prior to his current role.