Valparaiso (8-17, 4-5 Horizon)
Game #26 at Western Michigan (13-10, 5-0 MAC)
Tuesday, April 3, 2 p.m. CDT
Robert J. Bobb Stadium - Kalamazoo, Mich.
Games #27-29 at UIC (11-14, 5-4 Horizon)
Thursday, April 5, 6:05 p.m. CDT
Friday, April 6, 6:05 p.m. CDT
Saturday, April 7, 1:05 p.m. CDT
Les Miller Field - Chicago, Ill.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso takes to the road for four games this week beginning a stretch in which the Crusaders will play eight of their next 10 games away from Emory G. Bauer Field. Valpo will travel to Western Michigan on Tuesday for a midweek contest before heading to Chicago Thursday through Saturday for a three-game Horizon League set with UIC.
On the Air: Tuesday’s game at Western Michigan will not be carried over the airwaves or online. All three of the games at UIC will be broadcast both online at valpoathletics.com and over the airwaves on WVUR (95.1-FM, Valparaiso). Live stats will be available through valpoathletics.com for each game this week.
Head Coach Tracy Woodson: Tracy Woodson, the 16th head coach in Valparaiso University history, is in his sixth season at the helm of the Crusaders and has a 128-174 (.424) 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: Will Robinson (RHP, 1-2, 7.53) will pitch for Valpo on Tuesday against Western Michigan’s Mike Moyer (LHP, 0-1, 10.24). Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 1-2, 3.59) will open the series against UIC for the Crusaders on Friday against Joey Begel (RHP, 4-3, 4.76). In Friday’s middle game of the series, Kevin Wild (RHP, 1-1, 3.68) will toe the rubber for the Crusaders while the Flames have yet to announce a starter. Kyle Wormington (RHP, 1-4, 4.35) will take to the hill for the series finale on Saturday for Valpo while UIC has yet to announce its starter .
Series Notes: Western Michigan leads the all-time series against Valpo 29-8 dating back to 1947. Valpo has won the last four meetings between the two schools dating back to 2002 though, including a 10-7 victory on March 3, 2010 in Winter Haven, Fla., the last time the two teams met. UIC leads the all-time series against the Crusaders 51-44 dating back to 1977. Valpo has won four of the last five meetings between the two schools, going 3-1 against the Flames last year. Valpo took two of three at home April 2-3, winning 5-2 and 13-1 with UIC winning the middle game 5-0. The Crusaders also defeated the Flames 11-9 in last year’s Horizon League Tournament held in Dayton, Ohio. Valpo’s last win in Chicago came May 22, 2010, a 9-8 triumph over the Flames.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valparaiso was swept in a three-game series at home against Wright State last weekend. The Crusaders rallied from a 5-0 deficit to force extras in Friday’s opener before falling 7-6 in 10 innings. On Saturday the Raiders limited Valpo’s bats to just four hits, taking the middle game 4-2. In Sunday’s series finale, the Crusaders scored a run in the ninth and had the tying and winning runs on the corners with one out but could not get the big hit in a 4-3 loss.
Scouting Western Michigan: The Broncos have won six straight games, including a pair over the weekend at Buffalo, and remain perfect in Mid-American Conference play. Ryan McMillin leads the team batting .359 with three home runs and 19 runs batted in while Troy Forton is hitting at a .354 clip. As a team Western Michigan has a .279 batting average and the pitching staff has a 4.32 earned run average.
Scouting UIC: The Flames dropped the final two games of their weekend series at Milwaukee to snap a six-game winning streak after taking the opener on Friday. UIC hosts Indiana State on Tuesday before hosting the Crusaders this weekend. Ryan Boss leads the Flames batting .300 with four homers while Jon Ryan has driven home 19 runs. As a team UIC is batting .235 while the pitching staff has a 5.96 ERA.
Wild Stellar Over Last Month: Right-hander Kevin Wild has been nearly unhittable over his last four starts dating back to March 10 against Campbell, including three Horizon League outings. The senior right-hander has scattered just 17 hits in 29.0 innings of work, holding opponents to a .170 batting average in the four contests. He has tallied a 2.79 earned run average during the span as well. In his last start on Saturday, Wild allowed just five hits and two runs in seven innings, striking out seven.
Bain Has Solid Weekend: Andrew Bain hit safely in all three games of the series against Wright State, posting a .500 batting average with four runs scored. He went 4-for-5 in Friday’s opener, the third four-hit contest by a Crusader this season (Chris Manning and Will Hagel also have one). Bain leads Valpo in hitting with a .349 average, including a .400 mark in conference play.
Starters Going Deep into Games: Valpo’s starting pitchers have worked at least seven innings in each of the Crusaders’ last six games. Tyler Deetjen leads the Horizon League with 52.2 innings pitched on the season in just seven starts, an average of 7.5 innings per start. Kevin Wild (44.0) and Kyle Wormington (41.1) are both among the top six in the conference in innings pitched as well.
Extra Innings a Weekly Event: Valparaiso has played an extra inning game in each of its seven weekend series already this year. The Crusaders are 4-3 in bonus baseball, with five of the seven contests going 10 innings. Valpo’s longest outing of the year was a 13-inning affair at Murray State to open the season.
Quick Games: Valpo has played eight games in under 2:15 this season and 17 of its 25 contests in under 2:30. The Crusaders are averaging just 2:22 for their nine-inning games this year, and 2:30 overall, including three three-plus hour extra inning contests.
Pencil Them in the Lineup: Six players have started all 25 games for the Crusaders this season. Andrew Bain, Tanner Vavra, Chris Manning, Elliott Martin, Will Hagel, and Steven Scoby have been mainstays in the Valpo lineup, as has been Billy Cribbs, who has caught all but one game this year.
Closing Time: Jarad Miller has picked back up where he left off after missing the last year and a half with an injury, adding to his school record-setting career save total. Miller recorded his second save of the season in the series finale against Milwaukee. His 30 career saves are 16 more than any other player in program history after setting the school’s single season record with 17 during his All-American season in 2009.
Knocking Off Ranked Foes: Valpo’s 10-9, 10-inning victory over #4 Arkansas on Feb. 26 marked the highest ranked team the Crusaders have beaten since defeating #1 Notre Dame on April 25, 2001.
Vavra Named Hitter of the Week: Tanner Vavra was named the Horizon League’s Batter of the Week on Feb. 27 after hitting .583 (7-for-12) in the three-game series against #4 Arkansas. Vavra had a pair of three-hit performances and had at least one hit in each game of the series. In addition, the junior posted a .667 on base percentage and was flawless in the field.
Horizon League Pitchers of the Week: Tyler Deetjen was named the Horizon League’s Pitcher of the Week for the first weekend of play after his opening day performance and then picked up his second weekly accolade on March 6. Kevin Wild earned the award for himself after being named Pitcher of the Week on March 26.
Valpo Tabbed Third in 2012: Valparaiso has been picked to finish in third place in the annual Horizon League preseason coaches’ poll. Wright State, last year’s regular season and tournament champion, has been picked to repeat while UIC has been selected second. Valpo was picked just ahead of Milwaukee for third while Butler and Youngstown State round out the poll.
This and That: All 38 of Andrew Bain’s team-leading hit total have been singles ... Tanner Vavra is batting .500 (11-for-22) against left-handers this season ... Will Hagel leads the Crusaders with nine two-out RBIs ... opponents are hitting just .191 against Kevin Wild with two outs this year ... Tyler Deetjen leads Valpo pitchers inducing five ground ball double plays ... Vavra has reached base safely in 11 straight contests entering the week ... Bain now has 13 multi-hit games after his four-hit effort this past weekend ... with 2.1 more innings pitched, Deetjen will move into the top-10 on Valpo’s career list.