Valparaiso (9-12, 4-2 Horizon)
Game #22 at Northern Illinois (10-14, 4-1 MAC)
Tuesday, March 31, 3 p.m. CDT - DeKalb, Ill.
Games #23-25 at Cleveland State (5-15, 0-3 Horizon)
Friday, April 3, 3 p.m. CDT - Cleveland, Ohio
Saturday, April 4 (DH), 11 a.m. CDT - Cleveland, Ohio
This Week in Crusader Baseball: After winning two out of three last weekend against Milwaukee to open the home campaign, the Valparaiso University baseball team returns to the road this week for four games. The Crusaders will head to DeKalb, Ill. for a non-conference tilt against Northern Illinois on Tuesday before heading to Cleveland State for a three-game Horizon League series Friday and Saturday.
On the Air: Tuesday’s game against the Huskies as well as both Friday’s and Saturday’s games against the Vikings can be heard live on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso) and online at www.valpoathletics.com. In addition, live stats via Gametracker will be available through www.valpoathletics.com.
Pitching Rotation: On Tuesday, Valparaiso plans to send John Snelten (RHP, 0-2, 7.43) to the mound against Northern Illinois’ Tom Barry (LHP, 1-0, 7.00). In the series opener with Cleveland State, Valpo’s Bryce Shafer (RHP, 3-1, 6.27) will face the Vikings’ Josh Hungerman (LHP, 2-3, 4.85). In game one on Saturday, the Crusaders’ Jon Gulbransen (LHP, 3-3, 5.60) will face Jimmy Cowhy (LHP, 0-0, 9.00) while in the nightcap, Alex Berry (RHP, 1-3, 5.28) will take to the mound for the Brown and Gold against Cleveland State’s Brian Long (0-4, 10.33).
Wrapping Up Recent Action: The Crusaders took two out of three from Milwaukee in their first home series of the season last weekend. Valpo rallied in the ninth of the opener on Thursday but fell one run short as the Panthers won 6-5. In the opener on Saturday, Alex Berry went 7.2 strong innings on the mound to lead Valpo to a 4-2 victory. In the nightcap, the Crusaders scored four times in the bottom of the eighth to rally from two down to post a 7-5 victory over Milwaukee.
Scouting Northern Illinois: The Huskies have won six of their last eight games following a weekend split with Bowling Green. Jordin Hood leads the way for Northern Illinois offensively, hitting .409 with 11 doubles and 22 runs batted in. Dave Reynolds is also hitting at a .391 clip for the Huskies, who are batting .286 as a team. Reynolds is also the team’s closer on the mound, recording three saves this year. The pitching staff has posted a 6.33 earned run average on the year.
Scouting Cleveland State: The Vikings have won two straight following a weekend sweep of Case Western Reserve. Josh Lowe leads the team hitting .373 while Tom Carter is hitting at a .364 clip. Josh Hungerman has five homers and a team-leading 20 runs batted in for Cleveland State, which is hitting .280 as a team. The pitching staff has an 8.03 earned run average to date this season.
Miller Matches All-Time Save Mark: Sophomore Jarad Miller has a league-leading five saves this season after closing both ends of the doubleheader on Saturday against Milwaukee. Miller now has 14 saves for his career, moving him into a tie for first all-time at Valpo with Adam Knobel.
Sweeping Twinbills: Valparaiso has swept three doubleheaders already this season, after taking both ends of the twinbill against Milwaukee on Friday. The Crusaders have also recorded sweeps against Morehead State and Arkansas-Little Rock. Valpo managed to sweep just one doubleheader in all of 2008.
Getting On Base: As a team, Valpo leads the Horizon League with a .355 on base percentage. The Crusaders are hitting .274 as a team, but has been extremely patient at the plate, drawing 75 walks in 21 games. The Crusaders also have been hit by 17 pitches, getting on base any way possible.
Pitchers Limiting Hits: Valpo’s pitching staff leads the conference in opponents batting average nearing the midway point in the season. Crusader opponents are hitting .283 against the Valpo hurlers on the season. The pitchers have given up just 189 hits through 21 games, 25 fewer than any other school in the league.
Pitchers Controlling League Foes: Valpo’s pitchers have tallied a 3.40 earned run average through the first six Horizon League contests of the season while conference opponents are hitting just .264 against the Brown and Gold. Starting pitchers have accounted for three of the four league victories as well.
Double Duty: Damon McCormick and Justin Frane have both been summoned to the mound this season in addition to their roles as infielder and outfielder respectively. In eight combined appearances over 12 innings, the duo has yet to allow an earned run while surrendering just three hits.
Playing Solid Defense: As a team, Valpo leads the Horizon League fielding at a .974 rate. Through 21 games this season, the Brown and Gold has committed 21 errors, fewest in the conference. The Crusaders have had 10 error-free games this season.
Shober and Gaedele Like League Pitching: A pair of newcomers, Ryan Shober and Kyle Gaedele, have taken advantage of Horizon League pitching staffs thus far this year. Shober is hitting .400 (8-for-20) with a .500 on base percentage through the first six games of the conference slate. Gaedele is hitting .391 in conference action with four runs batted in and a .522 slugging percentage helped out by three doubles.
An Odd Combination: Damon McCormick, who came in relief in game two on Saturday against Milwaukee, earned his first collegiate victory on the mound. He then stayed in the game as a pinch runner before moving to second base in the bottom of the eighth/top of the ninth and scored the game-winning run for the Crusaders to give himself the win.
A Solid Job Off of the Bench: Valpo pinch hitters are connecting hitting .357 (5-for-14) on the season. Ranko Ivetic has two hits for the Crusaders in five pinch-hitting appearances.
Streaking: Kyle Gaedele enters the weekend with the team’s longest hitting streak, having hit safely in eight straight games. Kyle Muhlsteff has a five game streak going after posting a seven game hitting streak earlier this season.