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Valpo Baseball Continues Road Trip with Six Games This Week
Damon McCormick has pitched and played second this season. (Ray Acevedo)
Damon McCormick has pitched and played second this season. (Ray Acevedo)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Valparaiso (4-6, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #11-12 at Mississippi State (8-4, 0-0 SEC)
Wednesday, Mar. 11 (DH), 2:30 p.m./6:30 p.m. CDT - Starkville, Miss.
Games #13-16 at Tennessee Tech (8-3, 0-0 OVC)
Friday, Mar. 13 (DH), 2 p.m. CDT - Cookeville, Tenn.
Saturday, Mar. 14 (DH), 1 p.m. CDT - Cookeville, Tenn.

This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso will look to snap its five-game losing skid this week as the Crusaders play six games.  Valpo begins the week with a day-night twinbill at Mississippi State on Wednesday before heading to Tenneessee Tech for a four-game weekend series beginning on Friday.

On the Air:  All six games this week will be broadcast live.  Wednesday’s first game against Mississippi State will be carried live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) while game two can be heard online at www.sportsjuice.com.  Friday’s doubleheader can also be heard on sportsjuice.com while Saturday’s twinbill will be available on WVUR.

Pitching Rotation: Bryce Shafer (RHP, 2-0, 6.19) and Alex Berry (RHP, 0-2, 8.44) are expected to be handed the ball in Wednesday’s doubleheader against Mississippi State, although the order they throw has yet to be determined.  The Crusaders also have not decided on their pitching rotation for the Tennessee Tech series.

Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders dropped all five games last week after starting the year 4-1.  In the midweek series against Arkansas, Valpo battled back late in each game before falling 7-3 and 9-6.  In Memphis, the Tigers posted a 9-5 victory in Friday’s opening game while falling 6-0 in Saturday’s contest.  Valpo tied the game at two in the sixth inning of Sunday’s game, before Memphis earned a 3-2 victory and the series sweep.

Streaking: Matt Lenski has hit safely in all five games in which he has played this season, hitting .444.  Dating back to last season, the senior has hit safely in seven straight games, five of which have been multi-hit contests, including three this year.  Lenski has also hit safely in 13 of his last 14 contests for the Brown and Gold.

Double Trouble: Dan DeBruin leads the Crusaders with four doubles already on the season.  The fifth-year senior finished second on the team with 16 two-baggers last year, and now has 20 for his career wearing the Brown and Gold.

Successful in a Pinch: Valpo pinch hitters are hitting .429 (3-for-7) thus far this season.  Ranko Ivetic, David Klein, and Matt Lenski all have a base hit coming off of the bench this year. 

Miller Keeps Moving Up: Sophomore Jarad Miller earned his second save of the season for the Brown and Gold against Arkansas-Little Rock, pitching a scoreless ninth in game one of the doubleheader.  The save was the 11th of his career, moving him past Dallas Cawiezell into third place on the saves list.  Justin Craker ranks second with 13 career saves while Adam Knobel holds the school record with 14 saves.

Multi-Hit Efforts: Josh Wallace already has registered four multi-hit games for the Crusaders in the first 10 games of the year as the Crusader designated hitter.  He leads Valpo with 11 hits, including two homers, and is hitting .282 on the season.

Pulling Double Duty: Damon McCormick has started at second base in all 10 games for the Crusaders this season, but has also been summoned to the mound late in games.  The sophomore has made two appearances on the hill, pitching three innings of scoreless baseball while striking out three.

Muhlsteff Continues to Drive Home Runs: Kyle Muhlsteff drove in three more runs this week and leads the Crusaders with seven RBIs on the season.  The junior college transfer hit his first homer in a Valpo uniform at Arkansas, and is hitting .289 on the year while starting at third base.

Bettering Last Season: The Crusaders doubleheader sweep of Arkansas-Little Rock was the second twinbill Valpo has won this year.  In 2008, the Brown and Gold swept just one doubleheader the entire season.  The Crusaders also won four of their first five games while not winning game number four until the 18th game of last season.

Gulbransen Named Pitcher of the Week: Jon Gulbransen was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week on March 2 after his eight innings of shutout baseball against Arkansas-Little Rock.  The sophomore southpaw allowed just two hits and one walk while striking out eight on his way to his second victory of the season.

Valpo Tabbed Fifth: The Crusaders were picked to finish fifth in the Horizon League preseason poll, according to the league’s head coaches.  Valpo finished sixth in the regular season last year, but placed third in the Horizon League Tournament.  UIC is this year’s preseason favorite.