April 05, 20241234567RHE
Illinois State306001111120
Win: Mabee (4-1) 7.031103
Loss: Guazzo (0-5) 2.046631
Schmack (VALPO) 301000
Maka (VALPO) 311101
Giusti (VALPO) 201000
Pacella (ILS) 433200

April 06, 2024123456789RHE
Illinois State00300000X390
Win: Chadwick (3-3) 6.040013
Loss: Lockwood (2-2) 6.093305
Maka (VALPO) 402000
Lawrence (ILS) 413000

April 07, 2024123456789RHE
Illinois State12021000X6120
Win: Perry (4-3) 6.0200210
Loss: Krier (1-1) 2.263200
Hannahs (VALPO) 201000
Giusti (VALPO) 301000
Sokolove (ILS) 522000
Pacella (ILS) 412010
Rasmussen (ILS) 402200
Kubo (ILS) 412000
Baseball Beacons to Visit Illinois State This Weekend
Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Baseball Beacons to Visit Illinois State This Weekend
Brady Renfro hit his first home run of the season last weekend.

Valparaiso (10-16, 2-4 MVC)
at Illinois State (14-11*, 4-2 MVC)
Duffy Bass Field (1,200) | Normal, Ill.
*Entering Wednesday’s scheduled midweek at SIUE

Friday, April 5, 5 p.m. CT – RHP Adam Guazzo
Saturday, April 6, 3 p.m. CT – RHP Connor Lockwood
Sunday, April 7, 1 p.m. CT – TBD

Next Up in Valpo Baseball: The Valparaiso University baseball team will return to the road this weekend for a three-game series at Illinois State beginning on Friday evening. After this trip, the Beacons will grow more accustomed to sleeping in their own beds, as they will have over a month before their next overnight travel. But first they will look to take care of business on the road in another important Missouri Valley Conference series at Duffy Bass Field.

Last Time Out: After dropping the opening game of the series 6-4 on Friday, Valpo bounced back to beat Bradley 9-2 on Saturday and 13-2 in seven innings on Sunday. Connor Lockwood threw a complete game to highlight Saturday’s win before a Sunday rout that represented Valpo’s largest margin of victory in league play since joining the Missouri Valley Conference. Valpo was slated to have a pair of midweek games, but Tuesday’s home contest vs. Milwaukee and Wednesday’s road trip to Purdue were both called off due to unfavorable weather and field conditions.

Following the Beacons: All three games this weekend will air on ESPN+. Links to live video and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com. For in-game updates, follow @ValpoBaseball on X.

Head Coach Brian Schmack: Brian Schmack (198-310) is in his 11th season in charge of the program. He ranks third in program history in seasons coached and games coached as he coached his 500th game on March 17, 2024 at Campbell. He entered the season with 188 victories, the third most in program history. 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 16-27-1 all-time record against Illinois State and a 9-8 mark since joining the Missouri Valley Conference. Valpo is 8-4 against the Redbirds in the last 12 matchups including an important 7-6 victory to open the final series of the regular season last year at Emory G. Bauer Field. That win clinched an MVC Tournament berth for the Beacons and dashed the Redbirds’ hopes of qualifying for the tournament. Illinois State did win the final two games of the series – which were not impactful in the standings – 20-10 and 10-3. Valpo’s most recent visit to Bloomington-Normal saw the Beacons take two of three from the Redbirds in 2022.

In The Other Dugout: Illinois State  

  • Coming off a road series sweep at Missouri State.
  • Have won each of their last four MVC contests but did drop two of three to Bradley, a team Valpo won its series against.
  • Picked to finish seventh of 10 in the MVC preseason poll.
  • One of two teams that finished behind Valpo and missed the conference tournament last season.
  • Luke Cheng leads the team in batting average at .373 but has played in only 16 games. Daniel Pacella is hitting .337 with six home runs and 37 RBIs.
  • Under the direction of sixth-year head coach Steve Holm, who played in the big leagues with the Giants and Twins. This is a matchup where both head coaches are former Major League Baseball players.

Closing in on 200

  • Head coach Brian Schmack is just two wins away from becoming the third skipper in program history to reach the 200-win threshold.
  • Schmack ranks third in program history in career victories, trailing only Paul Twenge (1988-2006, 378) and the legendary Emory G. Bauer (1954-1981, 359).
  • Schmack reached a milestone on March 17 at No. 21 Campbell, his 500th game at the helm of the program. He became the third skipper in program history to reach that number, joining Paul Twenge (1,011; 1988-2006) and Emory G. Bauer (1954-1981; 606).

Lock’d In

  • RHP Connor Lockwood threw a complete game in the 9-2 win over Bradley on March 30, allowing two runs while scattering eight hits. He did not issue a walk and struck out nine in the triumph.
  • Lockwood tossed Valpo’s first complete game since Bobby Nowak on April 15, 2023 at Bradley in a seven-inning contest. This was Valpo’s first nine-inning CG since Zach Fricke on May 11, 2019 vs. Southern Illinois.
  • Valpo had multiple nine-inning complete games during the 2018 season, when Jon Tieman, Trey Ferketic and Wes Gordon all turned the trick. Lockwood became the first Valpo pitcher to go nine innings and allow no walks since Wes Gordon on Feb. 25, 2018 at Oklahoma. However, that was not a complete game as Gordon went nine in a 10-inning defeat.
  • Lockwood became the first Valpo pitcher to issue no walks in a nine-inning complete game since Ellis Foreman on April 29, 2017 vs. Wright State.
  • Thanks to his efforts against the Braves, Lockwood was named the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Week on April 1, becoming the first Valpo player to win an MVC weekly award this season. Valpo’s last MVC weekly award winners came on April 17 of last year, when Jake Skrine (Player of the Week) and Bobby Nowak (Pitcher of the Week) swept the honors.
  • This marked Lockwood’s second career MVC Pitcher of the Week award, joining Colin Fields as the only Valpo pitchers to have won the award multiple times since joining the MVC.
  • The list of Valpo hurlers to win MVC Pitcher of the Week since the team joined the league are as follows – Lockwood (twice), Fields (twice), Nowak, Jacob Rosenkranz, Jake Miller and Easton Rhodehouse.

Blitzing the Braves

  • Valpo’s 13-2, seven-inning victory over Bradley on March 31 marked just the second time since joining the Missouri Valley Conference that Valpo has invoked the 10-run rule in a league game. The other was last year’s 10-0 triumph in Peoria in the series finale against Bradley.
  • The 11-run margin of victory represented Valpo’s most lopsided MVC win since joining the league.
  • The 13 runs marked a season high, outdoing the team’s previous best of 10 on March 8 in Game 2 of a doubleheader at The Citadel. This marked the team’s highest run total since Feb. 26, 2023 at UT Martin (17).
  • Valpo pitching yielded a season-low four hits. That was the fewest hits allowed by Valpo pitching since three on May 14 of last season at Belmont.
  • Valpo racked up 14 hits for the second straight day. Two of the team’s three highest hit totals this season came in the final two games of the series against Bradley.

Other Notes Wrapping Up Bradley: March 29-31

  • Valpo lost Friday’s series opener 6-4 on a day where both teams exploded offensively in the first inning before the game evolved into a pitchers’ duel. Bradley led 4-3 after one inning and 5-3 after an inning and a half, but then neither team scored until both squads got single runs in the ninth.
  • The Valpo bullpen did its job, covering eight innings and allowing two runs on five hits while waking three and striking out seven. Grant Jablonski, Joe Seiber and Jake Jakubowski combined for that effort.
  • Alex Thurston hit his fourth home run of the season and the seventh of his collegiate career in the ninth inning of the series opener. That marked his third home run in a six-game span.
  • In Saturday’s middle game, Connor Lockwood’s aforementioned complete game propelled the team to a 9-2 victory. Bradley led 2-1 at the seventh-inning stretch before Valpo got two in the seventh and six in the eighth.
  • The 3-7 hitters in the Valpo lineup all enjoyed multi-hit outputs on Saturday, led by Alex Ryan and Connor Giusti with three hits apiece. Ryan drove in four of the team’s nine runs.
  • Valpo pitching issued no walks in Saturday’s game, the first time that had occurred since March 12 at Gardner-Webb and the fourth time this season that Valpo hurlers went walk free.
  • Brady Renfro homered on Saturday, his first of the season and the 16th of his collegiate career.
  • Valpo pulled away for a 13-2, seven-inning victory in Sunday’s rubber match.
  • Kyle Schmack homered on both Saturday and Sunday, lifting his season total to 10 and his career total to 28. This marks the second straight year that a Beacon has reached double figures in home runs. Prior to Jake Skrine’s 12 a year ago, no Valpo player had boasted a single-season double figure total since Josh Wallace (11) in 2008.
  • Kaleb Hannahs reached safely in all three games this weekend, extending his on-base streak to 26. He had three hits and drove in three in the series finale and Schmack also had a three-hit, three-RBI game.
  • Ryan Maka returned to the lineup for the Saturday and Sunday games. He had missed 16 straight games dating back to March 1 at Elon due to an injury.

A Look at the Leaderboards

  • Kyle Schmack ranks eighth in the MVC in slugging percentage at .641.
  • Schmack is tied for third in the league with 10 home runs this season.
  • Kaleb Hannahs has been hit by a pitch seven times, tied for the sixth most in the league.
  • Hannahs has lifted four sacrifice flies, tied for the second most in the league.
  • Connor Lockwood boasts an ERA of 4.00, eighth in the MVC.
  • Lockwood ranks sixth in the MVC in opposing batting average at .240.

Schmack schmacks

  • Kyle Schmack has hit 28 career home runs, the third most in program history and the most by any Valpo player since 2002.
  • Schmack has increased his career double total to 42, a number that ranks seventh in program history.
  • The Valpo slugger moved into the program’s all-time top 10 in RBIs during the Easter weekend series vs. Bradley. His total of 116 is tied for ninth in program history.
  • Schmack also ranks among the program’s all-time leaders in career walks with 90. He ranks eighth in that category.

Home Runs

Rank   Player                         Years              HR

1          J.J. Swiatkowski         1997-2000       36

2          Mark Pedersen            1998-2002       32

3          Kyle Schmack           2020-pres.      28

4          Jeff Mandsager           2001-2003       26

5          Joe Gersna                  1982-1985       23

6          Scott Carter                 1981-1984       22

Ken Mannings            1988-1991       22

Shawn Lemmons        1994-1996       22

Nate Palace                 2014-2017       22

10        Dan Schrum                1999-2002       21

Jamie Sykes                1994-1997       21

Dale Polonus               1986-1988       21

Marc Boggio               1999-2003       21

Sam Shaikin                2016-2019       21


Rank    Player                          Years               2B

1          Marc Boggio               1999-2003       58

2          Michael Arensdorff    2003-2007      57

3          Mark Pedersen            1998-2002       56

4          J.J. Swiatkowski         1997-2000       51

5          Kyle Gaedele              2009-2011       48

6          Nate Palace                 2013-2017       44

7          Kyle Schmack           2020-pres.      42

8          Chris Moore                1998-2001       41

Kevin Kutansky          2003-2006       41

10        Rob Hadrick               1994-1997       40

Runs Batted In

Rank    Player                          Years               RBIs

1          J.J. Swiatkowski         1997-2000       151

2          Mark Pedersen            1998-2002       142

3          Marc Boggio               1999-2003       141

4          Kevin Kutansky          2003-2006       133

5          Rob Hadrick               1994-1997       130

6          Chris Manning            2011-2014       127

7          Dale Polonus               1986-1988       126

8          Kyle Gaedele              2009-2011       121

9          Todd Poepard             1996-1999       116

Nate Palace                 2014-2017       116

Kyle Schmack           2020-pres.      116


Rank    Player                          Years               Walks

1          Spencer Mahoney       2012-2015       138

2          Marc Waite                 1989-1992       137

3          Sam Shaikin                2016-2019       104

4          Todd Poepard             1996-1999       102

5          Steve Wigdor              1985-1988       98

6          J.J. Swiatkowski         1997-2000       91

            Michael Arensdorff    2003-2007      91

8          Kyle Schmack           2020-pres.      90

9          Kyle Gaedele              2009-2011       86

10        Rick O’Connor           1992-1995       84

Notes Wrapping Up March 26: No. 7 Vanderbilt 3, Valpo 2

  • Playing its seventh game against top-25 competition this season, Valpo dropped its second one-run cliffhanger against a ranked opponent.
  • The Beacons went toe-to-toe with a Vanderbilt team that won the national title as recently as 2019, was the College World Series runner-up in 2021 and went 42-20 last season.
  • Valpo slipped to 0-7 against top-25 teams and owns a .500 record at 8-8 against all other opponents.
  • The Beacons played their fifth one-run game of the season, dropping to 1-4 in such contests.
  • Valpo pitchers racked up 12 strikeouts, tying a season high that was set in the Feb. 17 game at Alabama State. Freshman lefty Lucas Foley accounted for half of those strikeouts in 2 2/3 innings.
  • Kaleb Hannahs stretched his season-long on-base streak to 23 games by notching a hit. Connor Giusti also had a hit for the Brown & Gold.

Inside the Schedule

  • Valpo started the season with a four-game series against an Alabama State team that won 41 games and went 26-4 in the Southwest Athletic Conference last season.
  • The Beacons played three more in the Heart of Dixie from Feb. 23-25 at Alabama. The Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) also won over 40 games in 2023, posting a 43-21 mark en route to an NCAA Regional crown and Super Regional appearance.
  • A challenging early-season docket continued on March 1, when Valpo played at Elon, a team that went 33-22 last season including a 19-9 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).
  • After a neutral site game on March 3 vs. Binghamton of the American East Conference – another team that finished with a winning record last year – Valpo visited Jacksonville, a 34-win team last year and a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference.
  • Valpo had a three-game series at No. 21 Campbell (March 15-17) against a team that went 46-15 and 22-5 in the Big South in 2023. The conference champion Fighting Camels reached NCAA Regionals.
  • The Beacons made their way to Nashville, Tenn. for a game against preseason No. 6 Vanderbilt on March 26. The Commodores went 42-20 last season, were the runners-up of the College World Series in 2021 and won the national title as recently as 2019.
  • Other power-five opponents on the docket include April 16 at Notre Dame.

Program Progress: Looking Back at 2023

  • Valpo enjoyed 20 wins in 2023, the team’s highest overall win total since the 2017 campaign (24).
  • The team surpassed 2018 (19) for the program’s highest overall win total since joining the Missouri Valley Conference.
  • The team’s highest overall win total in recent years came despite the fact that six nonconference games were called off due to poor weather.
  • Valpo finished with a .426 overall winning percentage, the team’s highest since joining the MVC and highest in any season since 2017.
  • With 10 conference victories, Valpo notched its highest MVC win total since joining the league. The team’s previous Valley-only peak was nine in 2021.
  • Valpo finished the season with a league-only winning percentage of .370. Prior to last season, the team’s best MVC winning percentage was .321 in 2021.
  • Last season also represented the first time that Valpo has finished ahead of more than one team in the conference standings since joining the league. The team finished seventh of eight in 2018 and 2019 and eighth of eight in 2021 and 2022. There was no MVC play in 2020 due to COVID-19.
  • Valpo was recognized by D1Baseball as one of three “Upsets of the Night” on March 10 after beating No. 22 Southern Miss 6-1 in the series opener. The victory snapped the team’s skid of 15 straight losses against nationally-ranked opponents and marked the team’s first victory over a top-25 foe since beating No. 25 Illinois on April 17, 2018. At No. 22, Southern Miss was the highest ranked team that Valpo has defeated since a win over No. 9 Arizona State on April 21, 2013.

Beacon Blasts 

  • Valpo launched 50 home runs last season, surpassing the 2018 campaign (41) and the 2002 season (49) to climb all the way to fourth in single-season program history.
  • Valpo held its highest single-season home run total during the BBCOR bat era that began in 2011.
  • The 50 bombs marked the program’s most since 2001, a year were the team launched a program-record 81 long balls.

Valpo Single-Season Top 5 – Team Home Runs

Rank    Year    HR

1          2001    81

2          1985    64

3          1999    55

4          2023    50

5          2002    49

Other Record Book Updates from 2023

  • Valpo drew 231 walks as a team last season, tied for the fifth most in program history. That marked the team’s highest number of bases on balls since 2018 (248).
  • The Beacons also reached base at a high clip, as the team’s .386 on-base percentage was its highest in over 20 years. That tied for fifth in the program record book, joining the 2001 and 1998 seasons. This was the first time since 2001 that Valpo owned an OBP of .386 or better.
  • Valpo possessed a .973 fielding percentage last season, matching a program record set in 2018.

Maka-ing Good Things Happen

  • Ryan Maka was named to the 2024 Preseason All-MVC Team after earning first-team all-conference accolades at the conclusion of the 2023 campaign. The left-handed hitting outfielder raised his average nearly 100 points from the previous season by batting .345 a year ago including a .382 mark in Valley play.
  • Maka hit two grand slams – April 2 vs. Murray State and May 5 vs. Southern Illinois – becoming the first Valpo player since at least 2006 with two career grand slams.
  • He ranked second in the MVC in batting average and eighth in on-base percentage (.454).
  • In league-only play, Maka ranked in the top 10 in The Valley in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored, hits, RBIs, total bases and walks.

Who’s Back, Who’s New?

  • The 2024 roster features 16 seniors and nine juniors including an upperclassmen core of position players who have been together for several seasons.
  • The bulk of Valpo’s position players are back from last season including returning starters at seven of the eight positions. Four of those are set to become four-year starters – Kyle Schmack (LF), Kaleb Hannahs (3B), Brady Renro (1B) and Alex Thurston (SS). Other returning starters include Alex Ryan (CF), Ryan Maka (RF) and Kade Reinertson (C).
  • In total, the roster features 22 returning players.
  • Valpo has welcomed nine transfers to the program – outfielder Carson Husmann (Bradley), infielder Connor Giusti (Wisconsin Oshkosh), RHP Ryan Kruse (Northern Kentucky), RHP Spencer Boynton (Eastern Nazarene College), RHP Joe Seiber (College of DuPage), RHP Bryce Konitzer (Oakland), catcher Liam Patton (Wabash), infielder Chase Maifield (Augustana) and RHP Jake Jakubowski (Heartland).
  • In addition, five true freshmen have joined the fold – LHP Jack Thompson, infielder Aidan Thaxton, infielder/outfielder Kevin Denty, RHP Bennett Musser and LHP Lucas Foley.


Pitching Profiles – Projected Starters

  • #24 Adam Guazzo, R-Fr. (Huntley, Ill. / Huntley) – Was sidelined and did not see action during his first season on campus in 2023... Two-time all-conference performer in basketball in addition to earning all-conference on the diamond as a senior in high school... Set his high school’s record for rebounds in a single season on the hardwood with 320 in 2021-22... Favorite TV shows are Breaking Bad and Ozarks... Made his first collegiate appearance and start by pitching four innings on Feb. 18 at Alabama State, allowing three runs (one earned) on Feb. 18 at Alabama State... Made his second start of the season on March 8 in Game 2 of a doubleheader at The Citadel, logging six innings of two-run (one earned), two-hit ball while striking out six and walking none in a game that Valpo won in extra innings... Took the defeat on March 16 at No. 21 Campbell after allowing eight runs on five hits in four innings... Allowed seven runs (six earned) on nine hits while walking none over 4 2/3 innings in his first MVC start on March 23 at Southern Illinois... Departed after one inning of his March 29 start vs. Bradley.
  • #11 RHP Connor Lockwood, (Jr.), (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, 2023... Logged 6 1/3 innings of two-run, four-hit ball while striking out six on Feb. 25, 2023 at UT Martin... Pitched six innings, allowing three runs on six hits while walking one to earn the victory in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 4 at Little Rock... Made his first appearance since April 2, 2023 vs. Murray State on March 1 at Elon as after that game he underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. In his return to the rubber, he started and went three innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits and one walk while striking out four... Tossed five shutout innings and earned the win in a 3-2 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader at The Citadel on March 8... Pitched four solid innings at No. 21 Campbell on March 15, allowing two runs on two hits while walking three and striking out four in four innings... Recovered from an early grand slam and five runs allowed over the first two innings to go six while allowing six runs on six hits and taking the loss in the March 22 MVC opener at Southern Illinois... Threw a complete game to earn the win while scattering eight hits, striking out nine and walking none on March 30 vs. Bradley. He became the first Valpo hurler to toss a nine-inning complete game in five years and was named MVC Pitcher of the Week on April 1, becoming the second Valpo pitcher since the team joined the MVC to become a multi-time winner of that award.
  • #21 Kaleb Krier, Sr. (Altoona, Iowa / Southeast Polk (DMACC) – Made four appearances, all starts, in his first season at Valpo in 2023... Spent two seasons of JUCO ball at DMACC... Favorite MLB team is the New York Mets... Started on March 5 at Jacksonville and allowed three runs on five hits in three innings... Put together a solid start on March 12 at Gardner-Webb, going five innings of one-run, four-hit ball while walking none and striking out one. He received no decision in a game Valpo won 5-2... Started and went four innings while allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits and one walk in the March 19 home opener vs. Ball State, an eventual 9-6 win in which he received no decision... Started and went three solid innings on March 26 at No. 7 Vanderbilt, allowing one run on two hits and one walk while striking out three... Started and picked up the win on March 31 vs. Bradley after allowing two runs on just one hit over three innings.

Pitching Profiles – Bullpen Bits

  • #10 LHP Christian Hack, Jr. (Oak Forest, Ill. / Tinley Park) – Helped his high school 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... Saw action in 14 games and logged 19 1/3 innings last season.
  • #31 Joe Seiber, R-So. (Homer Glen, Ill. / Lockport [College of DuPage]) – Third team junior college All-American at Collee of DuPage... Favorite MLB team is the Chicago White Sox... Favorite movie is Billy Madison... Joined the program prior to the 2024 season as a junior college transfer... Earned his first Valpo save with two shutout innings of one-hit ball while allowing no walks to close out a 3-2 win at The Citadel in Game 1 of a doubleheader on March 8... Was not charged with a run in 2/3 of an inning in the series finale on March 10 at The Citadel... Went 2 1/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball on March 23 at Southern Illinois... Tossed three shutout innings while allowing one hit and walking none on March 29 vs. Bradley.
  • #32 Bryce Konitzer, Sr. (Mukwonago, Wis. / Mukwonago [Oakland]) – Started his collegiate career at Illinois State as a member of the 2019 MVC championship team for the Redbirds... Then spent one season at Madison College before three years at Oakland... Worked his way back from March 2022 Tommy John surgery to be ready for the start of the 2023 campaign, during which he appeared in 15 games and made eight starts... Tossed a shutout inning on March 3 vs. Binghamton... Earned his first save at Valpo by pitching the final two innings of a 9-6 win over Ball State on March 19 without allowing a run or hit... Pitched two solid innings but took the loss on March 26 at No. 7 Vanderbilt. He allowed one run (a solo homer) on three hits while walking one and striking out two... Finished out Valpo’s victory in the March 31 series finale vs. Bradley with a scoreless inning, allowing just one hit.
  • #34 RHP Grant Jablonski, Sr. (Mishawaka, Ind. / Mishawaka) – Appeared in four games in 2021 and two in 2020 before appearing in nine games in 2022 and 17 in 2023... 2019 Indiana All-Star while earning all-state honors... Favorite TV show is It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia... Did not allow an earned run in his season debut while logging 2 1/3 innings of relief on Feb. 18 at Alabama State... Hurled two shutout innings on Feb. 25 at No. 17 Alabama... Pitched two shutout innings and earned his first win of the season on March 12 at Gardner-Webb... Worked three plus innings and allowed just one run on four hits on March 16 at No. 23 Campbell. He did not allow a run in his first three frames before yielding a solo homer to lead off the start of his fourth frame... Picked up the win with three shutout innings of relief on March 19 vs. Ball State... Allowed one run on one hit in two innings out of the bullpen on March 23 at Southern Illinois... Allowed only one unearned run on one hit over three innings out of the bullpen on March 29 vs. Bradley.
  • #36 Trent Turzenski, Sr. (Burlington, Wis. / Burlington) – Had a team-best ERA (2.48) in four games out of the bullpen during the shortened 2020 season... Made 13 appearances including 10 starts in 2021... Made seven starts as the team’s Friday starter before going down with a season-ending injury in 2022... Missed most of the 2023 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He pitched a scoreless inning and allowed one hit in his lone outing of the year, May 7 vs. Southern Illinois... Played in the Little League World Series Regional Tournament on ESPN twice when he was 11 and 12... Favorite MLB Player is Josh Hader... Nailed down the save with three innings of one-run ball while allowing three hits, striking out four and walking none in Game 1 of a doubleheader on Feb. 17 at Alabama State... Pitched four shutout innings while allowing only one hit and one walk and fanned four to earn the victory on March 1 at Elon... Allowed two runs on three hits and no walks in two innings of relief on March 8 at The Citadel in Game 1 of a doubleheader... Worked a scoreless ninth to finish out the March 12 win at Gardner-Webb.
  • #38 RHP Griffin McCluskey, Sr. (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, Ill. 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... In 2023, tied for fourth in the league in games started, ranked 13th in innings pitched and was eighth in strikeouts... Got the Opening Night nod on Feb. 16, 2024 vs. Alabama State and took the defeat... Took the loss on Feb. 23 at No. 17 Alabama, when he was tagged for eight runs on seven hits in three innings... Tossed two innings of relief and allowed two runs on four hits and no walks in the March 10 series finale at The Citadel. This was his return to the mound after being briefly sidelined by an injury... Worked 2 2/3 innings of relief and allowed two runs on March 17 at No. 21 Campbell... Went four innings of solid ball, allowing two runs on two hits while walking four and striking out four on March 24 at Southern Illinois. He received no decision.
  • #39 Jake Jakubowski, Jr. (Lake in the Hills, Ill. / Huntley [Heartland]) – Won a national championship while playing junior college ball at Heartland CC... Played summer ball for the Kenosha Kingfish of the Northwoods League (2022) and the Burlington Bees of the Prospect League (2023)... Favorite movie is Super Bad... Retired all six batters he faced while pitching the final two innings of Game 2 of a Feb. 17 doubleheader at Alabama State... Nailed down the save on March 2 at Elon by coming in to record the final out... Picked up the win in Game 2 of a doubleheader on March 8 at The Citadel by firing 2 1/3 scoreless innings without allowing a hit or walk... Pitched a shutout inning in the March 12 win at Gardner-Webb... Pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief and was not charged with a run on March 15 at No. 21 Campbell... Entered the game with the bases loaded and two outs on March 26 at No. 7 Vanderbilt and recorded a big strikeout, the lone batter he faced... Worked the final two innings and allowed just one run on three hits on March 29 vs. Bradley.
  • #42 LHP Lucas Foley, Fr. (Deer Park, Ill. / Lake Zurich) – 2023 IHSBCA 4A First Team All-State and PBR Third Team All-State... Conference Pitcher of the Year as a senior in high school in 2023... Enjoys water and snow skiing... Has broken his collarbone four times... Favorite musical group is Cold Play... Went seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits while walking none and striking out 11 on Feb. 17 at Alabama State, getting the start in the second game of a doubleheader and making his collegiate debut. He was one of two freshmen in the country with 11 or more strikeouts in a game over the opening weekend of the season... Incurred his first collegiate setback on Feb. 25 at No. 17 Alabama, allowing six runs on seven hits in three innings... Allowed one run on five hits and one walk in four innings of a start on March 3 vs. Binghamton, receiving no decision... Took the defeat after allowing five runs on eight hits in three innings in his start on March 10 at The Citadel... Made an early exit in his start on March 17 at No. 21 Campbell, when he retired just one batter... Moved to the bullpen and tossed two scoreless innings on March 22 at Southern Illinois... Struck out the side in his first inning of work and racked up six strikeouts in just 2 2/3 frames of relief on March 26 at No. 7 Vanderbilt. He was charged with one unearned run on three hits and one walk... Worked three shutout innings while striking out four, issuing no walks and permitting two hits to help Valpo beat Bradley on March 31.

Position Player Profiles – Projected Lineup (based on recent games)

  • #15 Kaleb Hannahs, 3B/RF, Sr. (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… 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... 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... Was hit by a pitch on April 9, 2023 at Evansville, suffering an injury that caused him to be sidelined until May 18 vs. Illinois State (with the exception of one pinch running appearance during that stretch)... Drilled a home run in his first plate appearance back in the lineup on May 18 vs. Illinois State... Hit .286 while playing in 30 games and making 29 starts in 2023... Fourth-year starter in 2024... Hit his ninth career home run on Feb. 16, 2024, Opening Night at Alabama State... Extended his hitting streak to seven games and his on-base streak to all 14 games this season based on his performance March 8-10 at The Citadel. He tripled in the first game of that series, the second triple of his collegiate career and the first since the now-senior’s freshman year... Reached base in all three games at No. 21 Campbell from March 15-17, extending his season-long on-base streak to 18... Reached safely in all three games at Southern Illinois on March 22-24, extending his on-base streak to 22... Reached safely in all three games of the March 29-31 series vs. Bradley, extending his season-long on-base streak to 26.
  • #27 Kyle Schmack, LF, Sr. (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) – After graduating from nearby South Central High School in 2019, Kyle joined his father Brian’s program at Valpo… 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... Started all 47 games and batting .322 with nine home runs, 38 RBIs and a team-high 99 total bases in 2023... Fourth-year starter in 2024... Notched his first home run of the season and the 19th of his career on Feb. 18 at Alabama State... Entered the program’s career top 10 for doubles and hit his 20th career home run during a series where he hit .500 over three games at No. 17 Alabama from Feb. 23-25... Hit his 21st career home run on March 2 at Elon in a 7-5 win... Hit his 22nd career home run, climbing into a tie for fifth in program history, while also drilling a double on March 3 vs. Binghamton... Hit his 23rd career home run on March 10 at The Citadel, climbing into a tie for fourth in program history and taking over the most career home runs by any Valpo player since 2003... Moved into sole possession of fourth in program history with his 24th career home run on March 17 at No. 23 Campbell... Celebrated his 23rd birthday with two home runs in a March 19 win over Ball State, climbing into a tie for third in program history for career long balls... Hit two home runs in the March 29-31 series vs. Bradley, increasing his season total to 10.
  • #30 Brady Renfro, 1B, Sr. (Antigo, Wis. / Antigo) – 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, at the time Valpo’s longest on-base streak since 2017... Named 2021 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... During the 2023 campaign, had an on-base streak that reached 30 games before it was finally snapped on April 22 vs. UIC. That was Valpo’s longest such streak since 2016... Delivered a grand slam to help Valpo to an upset win over No. 22 Southern Miss on March 10... Missed time with a hip injury from April 23 to May 23... Hit .287 in 2023 while appearing in 34 games, all starts... Is a fourth-year starter in 2024... Had not played since the first weekend of the season (Feb. 17 at Alabama State) due to back issues but returned to action on March 12 at Gardner-Webb... Hit his first home run of the season and the 16th of his career on March 30 vs. Bradley.
  • #7 Carson Husmann, RF, Sr. (Hannah, Ind. / South Central [Bradley]) – Played in 113 games and made 101 starts over four years at Bradley while hitting 20 home runs and driving in 68 runs... His best year was 2022, when he hit .277 with 13 home runs and 45 RBIs... High school teammates with Kyle Schmack at South Central in Northwest Indiana... Was also a four-year letter winner in basketball during his prep days... Homered in each game of a doubleheader sweep at The Citadel on March 8, his first two home runs in a Valpo uniform. He reached base nine times over the course of those two games... Returned for the March 29-31 series vs. Bradley after missing three games with an injury... Had a go-ahead, bases-clearing double in the rubber match vs. Bradley – his former team – on March 31.
  • #22 Ryan Maka, RF, Jr. (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... 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... 2023 All-MVC First Team and 2024 Preseason All-MVC honors... Posted a .345 batting average in 2023, jumping his average nearly 100 points from the previous season... Hit two grand slams in 2023, becoming the first Valpo player since at least 2006 with two career grand slams... Returned to the lineup on March 30 vs. Bradley for the first time since March 1 at Elon after missing 16 games due to an injury.
  • #9 Connor Giusti, 2B, Sr. (Hoffman Estates, Ill. / Fremd [Wisconsin Oshkosh]) – Played in 117 games over four seasons at Wisconsin Oshkosh before transferring to Valpo for the 2023 campaign... Named to the all-defensive team and all-conference honorable mention at Oshkosh... Big Chicago Bears fan and loves football... Hit his 11th collegiate home run and first at Valpo on Opening Night on Feb. 16 at Alabama State.
  • #17 Alex Ryan, CF, Sr. (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... Was a member of the 2023 MVC Scholar-Athlete First Team after earning MVC Scholar-Athlete Honorable Mention the year prior... Finished 2023 with a .260 batting average while playing in 40 games and making 37 starts... Had Valpo’s second multi-homer game of the season, going deep twice on March 16 at No. 17 Campbell... Ripped a solo shot to account for Valpo’s lone run in a 13-1 loss at Southern Illinois on March 23.
  • #19 Kade Reinertson, C, R-Jr. (Huxley, Iowa / Ballard Community) – Played in 18 games before suffering a season-ending injury in 2023 after playing in 22 games and making 17 starts in 2022... Did not see game action as a rookie 2021... Named second team all-state in high school in 2019... Also played football and basketball in high school... Kicks with his left foot but does everything else right handed... Enjoys golfing and disc golfing.
  • #33 Liam Patton, C, Gr. (Barrington, Ill. / Warsaw [Wabash]) – Spent the last three seasons at Wabash College, where he hit .384 with six home runs, 50 RBIs and a .582 slugging percentage in 2023... Had a go-ahead, two-run single with two outs in the ninth inning on March 5 vs. Jacksonville, a game Valpo eventually dropped 6-5 on a walk-off in the bottom of the ninth... Came up clutch again in the second game of a doubleheader on March 8 at The Citadel, when his bases-clearing double in the top of the 10th spurred a 10-5 victory.
  • #6 Alex Thurston, SS, Sr. (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... Played in 46 games – all starts – while turning in a .238 batting average in 2023... Is a fourth-year starter in 2024... Hit his fourth career home run on Opening Night, Feb. 16 at Alabama State... Laid down a squeeze bunt to drive in the tying run in the ninth inning of an eventual 10-5, 10-inning win in Game 2 of a March 8 doubleheader at The Citadel... Homered and had a team-high three hits in the March 19 home opener vs. Ball State... Hit his second home run in as many games and his third of the season on March 22 at Southern Illinois, when he drove in three runs... Hit his fourth home run of the season and third in a six-game span on March 31 vs. Bradley.

Inside the Assistants: Top assistant Kory Winter returns to head coach Brian Schmack’s staff this season, while assistant coach Jeff Mayes is back for Year 2 and assistant coach Adam Brian 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.
  • Jeff Mayes is in his second season on the Valpo coaching staff, serving as the team’s infield coach while also assisting with the team’s hitters and manning the third base coaching box. 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.
  • Adam Brian is in his first season on Valpo’s staff after graduating from Bradley. He works with the team’s catchers and holds down the first-base coaching box. Brian’s father Braden Brian played college baseball at Eastern Kentucky and was selected in the 30th round of the 1986 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Montreal Expos.