Valparaiso (15-21, 9-3 Horizon)
Games #37-39 at Hawai’i (21-15, 7-1 WAC)
Thursday, April 21, 11:35 p.m. CDT
Friday, April 22, 11:35 p.m. CDT
Saturday, April 23, 11:35 p.m. CDT
Les Murakami Stadium - Honolulu, Hawaii
Up Next in Crusader Baseball: Riding the nation’s longest active winning streak, Valparaiso leaves the mainland this weekend for a three-game Easter weekend series against Hawai’i in Honolulu. The Crusaders will take a weekend off from Horizon League action having won nine straight games overall, including four straight on the road.
On the Air: The three game series at Hawai’i can be heard live online through www.valpoathletics.com with the audio courtesy of ESPN 1420 AM in Honolulu. Live stats will also be available through www.valpoathletics.com for each game this season.
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson, the 16th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders and has a 110-146 (.430) record both for his career as well as at Valpo. Woodson ranks fourth in school history for career wins by a head coach. A member of the Los Angeles Dodgers 1988 World Champion team, he has also managed in the minor leagues through the AAA level.
Probable Starters: Game one of the series with Hawai’i on Thursday will see Justin Frane (RHP, 2-1, 1.93) take the hill for the Crusaders against the Rainbows’ Matt Sisto (RHP, 3-4, 2.10). In Friday’s middle game of the series, Damon McCormick (RHP, 2-5, 4.22) will be handed the ball for the Brown and Gold while Hawai’i will counter with Jarrett Arakawa (LHP, 4-2, 3.44). Saturday’s series finale will match Valpo’s Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 3-5, 3.71) against the Rainbows’ Connor Little (RHP, 3-2, 3.48).
Series Notes: Valparaiso and Hawai’i will be meeting on the diamond for the first time ever this weekend.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso swept a three-game Horizon League series against Youngstown State over the weekend. The Crusaders won the opener 11-1 on Friday behind eight innings of one-run, five-hit baseball by Justin Frane. After Saturday’s doubleheader was postponed to Sunday, Kyle Gaedele delivered a two-run walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to give Valpo a 4-3 victory in the opener of the twinbill. Damon McCormick allowed just two unearned runs in 8.1 innings of work on the mound. In the series finale, Valpo scored three times in the bottom of the eighth after the Penguins tied the game in the top of the inning, and defeated Youngstown State 5-2. Robbie Robinson drove home three runs in the win. Monday, Valpo took advantage of eight Saint Francis (Ind.) errors to defeat the Cougars 8-3, running the Brown and Gold’s home win streak to six consecutive games.
Scouting Hawai’i: The Rainbows have won nine of their last 10 games overall after winning three of four against Louisiana Tech in a wraparound weekend series. Hawai’i is wrapping up a 27-game homestand against Valpo this weekend, and will have played 36 of its first 41 games at home following the series with the Crusaders. Kolten Wong leads the Rainbows batting .383 with five home runs and 28 runs batted in. Zack Swasey is hitting .315 with 18 RBIs for a team hitting .259. Hawai’i’s pitching staff has posted a 3.00 earned run average on the year with opponents batting just .228 against them. Lenny Linsky is 1-1 with a 1.21 ERA and seven saves in 17 appearances.
Frane Named Pitcher of the Week: Senior hurler Justin Frane was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week after limiting Youngstown State to just one earned run and five hits over eight innings for his second victory of the season. The right-hander walked just one and struck out four. On the season he is now 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, including a 0.73 ERA in Horizon League action.
Win Streak is Nation’s Best: Through Monday’s games, Valparaiso’s nine-game winning streak was tied with Oregon State and Stetson for the nation’s longest active mark. The Crusaders have also won four in a row on the road, tied for the nation’s seventh longest road win streak.
Quite a Turnaround: After starting the season 1-17, Valpo has posted a 14-4 record over the last 18 games. During the 18-game stretch, the Crusaders have allowed more than three runs in a game just once, a 5-2 loss to UIC. Valpo hurlers have posted a 2.03 ERA during the 18-game span, with opponents batting just .198 over that time.
Throwing Strikes: During the 14-4 stretch, Valpo pitchers have walked just 34 batters during the 18-game span. Meanwhile, Crusader hurlers have struck out 137 batters, an average of 7.6 per game.
Hagel On Fire: Will Hagel had his string of six straight multi-hit contests snapped against Saint Francis (Ind.) when he went 1-for-2 with a triple after coming in as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning. In his last seven games, Hagel is batting .560 (14-for-25) with 10 runs batted in, a homer, and two triples. He has increased his batting average 74 points over the seven game span.
On a Big Stage: As Valpo heads to Hawai’i, the Rainbows currently rank 15th nationally in average attendance drawing 3,351 fans per game. Valpo, on the other hand, has drawn a total of 1,229 fans to its eight home dates.
Don’t Blink or You’ll Miss It: Valparaiso’s baseball game times continue to move along. The Crusaders are averaging just 2:18 for the 33 nine-inning games in which they have played this season. Valpo has gone over three hours just three times this year, two of which were 11-inning contests. The Crusaders have had a game go more than two-and-a-half hours just twice since March 13. Those games were 2:35 and 2:34. Five games have been played in under two hours.
Streaking: Kyle Gaedele has reached base safely in each of the last 23 games, and has an 11-game hitting streak entering the weekend. Robbie Robinson has also reached base safely in each of the last 15 contests.
Go Speed Racers: Kyle Gaedele and Chris Manning have the Crusaders off and running on the base paths. Gaedele is already 17-for-18 swiping bases, and is now 42-for-45 during his three-year career with the Brown and Gold. Manning has nearly been as successful, stealing 15-of-18 attempted bases during his freshman year. As a team, Valpo is 47-of-58 in stolen base attempts (81.0%) on the season, posting the best success rate in the Horizon League.
Gulbransen Moving Career List: Jon Gulbransen has moved into third place on Valpo’s career innings pitched list with 291.1 at Valpo, passing Shawn Barker (1987-1990). He is just 0.1 innings in back of Tim Holmes (1984-1987) for the second spot all-time and needs just 23.1 more innings to match Harvey Yergin (2004-2007) as the career record-holder at Valpo.
Gaedele On Extra Base Charts: Kyle Gaedele has moved into fifth place on Valpo’s career doubles list with 42 two-baggers, passing Chris Moore (1998-2001) and Kevin Kutansky (2003-2006). He is nine doubles behind J.J. Swiatkowski (1997-2000) for fourth on the career list. Gaedele is also tied for sixth with Marc Boggio (1999-2003) on the triples list with 11, one three-bagger behind a trio of players tied for third place.
Gaedele Earns Preseason Honors: Outfielder Kyle Gaedele has been named a Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American Third Team selection prior to the start of the season. Gaedele batted .373 with seven homers and 63 runs batted in a year ago while legging out eight triples.
Valpo Tabbed Fourth in 2011: Valparaiso has been picked to finish in fourth place in the annual Horizon League preseason coaches’ poll. Wright State, last year’s regular season champion, has been picked to repeat while Milwaukee has been selected second after winning last year’s tournament and advancing to the NCAA Tournament.
This and That: Chris Manning and Kyle Gaedele have started all 36 games in center and right fields respectively ... Valpo catchers have thrown out 37% of base runners trying to steal this season ... Gaedele and Will Hagel lead the team with 26 and 25 RBIs respectively ... Valpo’s nine-game winning streak is its longest since the Crusaders won 10 straight from April 7 through April 19 of 2001 ... the school record for longest winning streak is 12 straight from April 19 through May 28 of 1958 ... Valpo is 13-1 when leading after eight innings this year.