Valparaiso (2-0, 0-0 Horizon)
Games #3-5 at Arkansas-Little Rock (2-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)
Friday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m. CST - Little Rock, Ark.
Saturday, Feb. 28, 1 p.m. CST - Little Rock, Ark.
Sunday, Mar. 1, 1 p.m. CST - Little Rock, Ark.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: After posting two wins to open the season last weekend, the Crusaders set forth on their annual spring trip this weekend, beginning on Friday with a three-game set at Arkansas-Little Rock. The Crusaders will play 14 games between Friday and March 14 around the south, looking to build upon the success of opening weekend.
On the Air: None of the three games will be broadcast live this weekend from Arkansas.
Pitching Rotation: Alex Berry (RHP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA) will make his season debut on Friday afternoon against the Trojans’ Jake Sullivan (LHP, 1-0, 0.00). The middle game of the weekend set will see Valpo’s Bryce Shafer (RHP, 1-0, 7.20) face UALR’s Adam Champion (LHP, 0-0, 1.29). The series finale will pit the Crusaders’ Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 1-0, 5.40) against Sean Potter (RHP, 1-0, 8.44).
Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders opened the season last weekend in Morehead, Ky. with a doubleheader sweep of Morehead State on Saturday afternoon 6-5 and 8-5. Sunday’s series finale was cancelled due to snow and cold temperatures. Josh Wallace homered twice and drove in four runs in the opener for Valpo while Steven Scoby homered and drove home four runs in the night cap.
A Solid Start Offensively: Valpo hit .313 while hitting five homeruns and slugged .594 as a team in the opening twinbill. Steven Scoby, Ryan O’Gara, and Josh Wallace all registered three hits a piece in opening weekend.
Quality Starts by Starters: After not recording a victory until game number 16 last season, Valpo starting pitchers made sure they got in the victory column in the opening weekend this year. Bryce Shafer worked five innings for the win in the opener while Jon Gulbransen tossed five innings in the nightcap to record the win. The second win by a starter last season did not come until game 19, the Horizon League opener.
On the Road Again: Valpo’s first 20 games of the season, not counting the cancellation at Morehead State, will be played on the road this year.
Best Start in Awhile Could Get Even Better: The Crusaders are off to their first 2-0 start since winning the first two games of the 1997 season. If Valpo defeats Arkansas-Little Rock on Friday, the Brown and Gold would improve to 3-0 for the first time since 1969.
Wallace Goes Yard: Josh Wallace hit two round-trippers on Saturday afternoon in the season opener and now has 14 for his career in just over two seasons. Last year he led the Brown and Gold with 11 homeruns and drove in 48 runs, second highest on the team.
Miller Slams the Door: Sophomore Jarad Miller opened the season where he left off last year, earning a save in the series opener against Morehead State. The save was the 10th of his career, moving him into a tie for third all-time with Dallas Cawiezell on the saves list. Justin Craker ranks second with 13 career saves while Adam Knobel holds the school record with 14 saves.
Freshmen Produce: Freshmen Billy Cribbs and Steven Scoby both made the most of their collegiate debuts. Cribbs went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, and a RBI in game two of the twinbill to open his Crusader career behind the plate. Scoby went 2-for-4 in game one of the doubleheader playing left field, then followed that up with a homer and four runs batted in in the nightcap.
Muhlsteff, Gaedele, and Shober Also Make Valpo Debuts: In addition to Billy Cribbs and Steven Scoby, Kyle Muhlsteff, Kyle Gaedele and Ryan Shober made their debuts wearing the Brown and Gold last weekend. Muhlsteff, a junior college transfer, started both games at third base while freshmen Gaedele and Shober started in centerfield and at shortstop respectively.
Matching Last Season’s Bests: The Crusaders doubleheader sweep of Morehead State matched the longest winning streak that Valpo had in all of 2008. Valpo also swept just one doubleheader all of last season, doing so against Butler on April 26.
Solid Defense: Valpo did not commit an error in game one of the doubleheader last weekend, and made just one miscue in game two. Valpo posted a .984 fielding percentage in 61 chances.
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.