Valparaiso (18-33, 8-13 Horizon)
Games #52-? at Horizon League Championships
Eastwood Field, Niles, Ohio - Youngstown State Hosts
Round 1: Tues., May 20
vs. Butler (12-33, 7-17 Horizon), 2 p.m. CDT
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso is set to make its first appearance in the Horizon League Baseball Championships presented by the U.S. Army beginning on Tuesday afternoon in Niles, Ohio. The Crusaders, the tournament’s sixth seed, will face seventh-seeded Butler at 2 p.m. CDT in a single elimination game, with the winner facing third-seeded Youngstown State on Wednesday to begin the double elimination portion of the tournament.
On the Air: All of Valparaiso’s Horizon League Championship games can be heard live online at www.sportsjuice.com. WVUR’s broadcast team will be in Niles for the duration of the Crusaders’ tournament run. In addition, all of the Horizon League Championship games can be viewed live online through the Horizon League Network.
Pitching Matchup: Valparaiso will send righthander Elliott Gibbs (1-5, 4.50) to the mound on Tuesday afternoon to face the Bulldogs against Butler righthander Jeff Sinkiewicz (1-5, 4.84). Gibbs faced Butler earlier this season on a windy day at Emory G. Bauer Field, allowing 11 runs, nine earned, and 12 hits in 6.1 innings while striking out seven. He suffered the loss in a 12-10 Bulldog victory. Sinkiewicz did not get a decision when facing Valpo in the first meeting working seven innings allowing eight hits and five runs, four of which were earned, and striking out four. The Crusaders rallied from a 13-0 deficit to defeat Butler 16-15 in 10 innings in that game.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso dropped its final three games of the regular season last weekend to Horizon League champion UIC. The Flames won the opener 11-4 on Friday night before posting a pair of one-run wins on Saturday. Game one Valpo rallied from an 8-4 deficit entering the ninth to close within 8-7 and had the bases loaded before hitting into a game-ending double play. In game two, UIC rallied with two runs in the bottom of the ninth to win 7-6.
Scouting Butler: The Bulldogs won two out of three from Cleveland State to wrap up the regular season last weekend. Kyle Schultz leads the team hitting .381 while Joe Pauley has hit 12 homers and driven in 41 runs on the year. As a team, Butler is hitting .269. On the mound, Jeff Sinkiewicz is the team’s top starter with a 1-5 record and a 4.84 earned run average on a staff that has a 7.13 ERA.
Rodeghero Among Nation’s Top Hitters: Zach Rodeghero entered last week ranked 4th in the nation in hitting among all Division I schools batting .434. After last week’s play, he enters the Horizon League Tournament with a .428 average, tops in the Horizon League by 15 points over Wright State’s Jeremy Hamilton.
DeBruin and Giusti Have Longest Current Streaks: Dan DeBruin currently has the longest active hitting streak of any Crusader with a hit in 11 straight games. Earlier this season, the senior hit safely in nine consecutive contests. John Giusti also enters the tournament having hit safely in 10 straight games. They are the fourth and fifth Crusaders to have at least a 10-game hitting streak this season.
Rodeghero Sets Single Season Record: With his RBI single in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader at UIC, Zach Rodeghero set a new Valparaiso single season hit record. He enters the Horizon League Tournament with 86 hits on the season, passing Mark Pedersen’s 2001 mark of 82. In addition, with a current average of .428, Rodeghero has a chance to be the first Crusader since Tom Delattre (.418) in 1981 to hit .400 in a single season.
Rodeghero Nearing Single Season Doubles Record: Zach Rodeghero has 20 doubles on the season, one shy of Rob Hadrick’s 1997 mark which was matched by Pedersen in 2001.
For Three: Dan DeBruin is currently second in the Horizon League with five triples on the season. He had two against Cedarville last week, and is two three-baggers shy of Valpo’s single season record of seven.
Getting the Runs In: Justin Frane is tied for first in the Horizon League with six sacrifice flies this season.
Five Crusaders Named Horizon League Player of the Week This Season: With Zach Rodeghero being named the Horizon League Player of the Week for the second time this season on May 5, five Crusaders have now earned the honor this year. He also received the accolade on February 4 while Josh Wallace was the Player of the Week on March 18. Elliott Gibbs earned Horizon League Pitcher of the Week honors on March 31 and Bryce Shafer was the Pitcher of the Week on March 4.
Godawa Superb Against League Foes: In 11 relief appearances against Horizon League competition, Steve Godawa has given up just one run and has a 1-0 record. He has fanned seven in 10.2 innings while league foes are hitting just .128 against him and he has a 0.84 ERA.
Giusti Moving Up Assists List: Infielder John Giusti currently ranks second all-time in Crusader history with 421 career assists over four years. He is just three short of tying Rick O’Connor’s school record of 424.
Welcome Back Giusti: Since returning to the lineup on April 16 against Saint Francis (Ill.) from a hand injury, senior John Giusti is hitting .478 (33-for-69) with 20 runs scored in 20 games. He has had 11 multi-hit games during the span, including a 4-for-5 effort against UIC on April 18. On the season Giusti is hitting .390.
Rodeghero Had 24-Game Hitting Streak Snapped: Zach Rodeghero had a hit in every game during the month of April as part of a 24-game game hitting streak. The streak came to an end on May 6 though, when the fifth-year senior went hitless at Iowa.
What a Comeback: Valpo trailed Butler 13-0 through 4 1/2 innings of game one of an April 26 doubleheader before mounting one of the best comebacks in school history. A seven-run ninth inning tied the game at 15 and the Crusaders won the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th.
Walking Men: Valparaiso has drawn 208 base on balls already this season as a team, 30 more than any other team in the Horizon League. Jason Brunelli is second in the league drawing 29 walks while Zach Rodeghero is tied for fourth with 23 free passes. Last season, in 56 total games, the Crusaders only drew 159 total walks.
Rodeghero Enjoying Conference Pitching: In 21 games against Horizon League foes, Zach Rodeghero is hitting .478 (44-for-92) with three homers and 20 runs batted in. He has a .685 slugging percentage as well.
Miller Saves the Day: Freshman Jarad Miller is at the top of the Horizon League lead with seven saves this season. The rookie has already cracked the career save list at Valpo, currently ranking in a tie for sixth. With his next save, he will tie Chip Pettit for fifth on the all-time save charts.
DeBruin Feasts on Lefties: Dan DeBruin is hitting .426 (20-for-47) this season against southpaws. Overall he is hitting .322 in his first season playing every day.
Rodeghero Comes Through in the Clutch: Zach Rodeghero not only leads the league in hitting, but has gotten the key hits when it counts. The senior is hitting .514 (36-for-70) with runners in scoring position and has been even better with runners on third and less than two outs (17-for-21, .810).
Liking the Bases Juiced: Brett Bivens is hitting .800 (4-for-5) with the bases loaded this season while Zach Rodeghero is hitting .714 (5-for-7) with the sacks packed.
Valpo Finishes Higher Than Prediction: The Crusaders were picked to finish seventh in the Horizon League preseason poll, with Wright State being the preseason favorite. However, Valpo finished one place higher than the preseason prognostications, as the Crusaders wrapped up the regular season with a sixth place finish. UIC won the league title.