Valparaiso (29-22, 19-8 Horizon)
Games #52-54 vs. Youngstown State (9-39, 7-20 Horizon)
Thursday, May 17, 3 p.m. CDT
Friday, May 18, 3 p.m. CDT
Saturday, May 19, 1 p.m. CDT
Emory G. Bauer Field - Valparaiso, Ind.
This Week in Crusader Baseball: Valparaiso wraps up the 2012 regular season this weekend in search of its first Horizon League title. The Crusaders enter the weekend one game behind Wright State in the conference standings. Valpo hosts Youngstown State in a three-game series, culminating with Senior Day on Saturday.
On the Air: None of this week’s games will be broadcast live over the airwaves or online. Live stats will be available through valpoathletics.com for each game this weekend though.
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 149-179 (.454) record both for his career as well as at Valpo. Woodson ranks third 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: Tyler Deetjen (LHP, 5-2, 3.68) will toe the rubber for the Crusaders in Thursday’s series opener against Youngstown State’s Russ Harless (RHP, 2-5, 5.26). Friday’s contest will match Valpo’s Kevin Wild (RHP, 5-3, 2.77) against the Penguins’ Blake Aquadro (LHP, 2-9, 7.22). In Saturday’s series finale, Kyle Wormington (RHP, 5-5, 3.30) will take to the hill for the Brown and Gold against YSU’s Patrick O’Brien (RHP, 1-5, 5.83).
Series Notes: Valpo holds a 35-14 series edge over Youngstown State dating back to 1992 and have won eight straight games against the Penguins. Earlier this season the Crusaders swept a three-game series against Youngstown State at Eastwood Field in Niles, Ohio.
Wrapping Up Recent Action: Valpo scored eight times in the sixth inning on Friday on the way to a 14-2 victory over UIC in the opener to the weekend series. The Flames won Saturday’s middle game of the series 8-3, scoring in five different innings. The Crusaders tallied five runs in the opening inning on Sunday in the series finale on the way to an 8-2 victory over UIC.
Scouting Youngstown State: The Penguins were swept in a three-game series at home against Wright State last weekend, snapping a stretch of five victories in six contests. Youngstown State then fell in its midweek contest against Pittsburgh 5-2 on Tuesday. Jeremy Banks leads the Penguins batting .394 with five home runs and 40 runs batted in while Drew Dosch is hitting at a .361 clip with seven homers and 35 RBIs. As a team Youngstown State is hitting .256 while the pitching staff has a 7.43 earned run average.
Previously vs. YSU: Valpo swept a three-game series at Eastwood Field in the Buckeye State April 13-15. Valpo posted a 7-4 win in the opener, scoring four times in the first inning. The Crusaders exploded for a 10-0 shutout victory in the middle game of the series before holding on for a 5-4 victory in the series finale.
Senior Day Set: Valpo will honor its six-member senior class prior to Saturday’s regular season finale against Youngstown State. Tyler Deetjen, Will Hagel, Bobby Martin, Jarad Miller, Steven Scoby, and Kevin Wild will all be recognized for their contributions to Valpo baseball.
Looking for the Title: Valpo enters the final weekend of the season one game behind Wright State in the race for the Horizon League championship. The Crusaders need to win one more game against Youngstown State than the Raiders do at Milwaukee to claim at least a share of the crown. Valpo needs to win two more games than Wright State to earn the number one seed in the tournament though, as the Raiders hold the tiebreaker based on their 4-2 series win over the Crusaders this season.
Assured of a Bye: The Crusaders have clinched at least second place in the Horizon League standings this year, and with it have guaranteed themselves a bye in the opening round of the Horizon League Championships. Valpo will not play on May 23, opening up tournament play on Thursday, May 24. The top-two finish for the Crusaders is their best since joining the Horizon League.
It’s Been Awhile: Valpo has not won a regular season conference title since 1977 in the Indiana Collegiate Conference, but did win the AMCU-8 Blue Division championship in 1987 and 1988. The Crusaders shared the ICC tournament title with Indiana Central in 1982.
A Hot Streak: Valpo enters the weekend having won 21 of its last 25 games overall. The Brown and Gold have won 13 of their last 15 Horizon League games dating back to facing Youngstown State the first time through the conference rotation.
Scoby Swings a Hot Bat: Steven Scoby has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games and enters the weekend with an eight-game hitting streak. During the span Scoby is batting .404 (21-for-52) with eight runs scored and six runs batted in. He has raised his season average to .278.
Hagel Looks for Double Figure Hit Streak: Will Hagel has hit safely in all nine games for the Crusaders during the month of May, batting .441 (15-for-34) during the stretch that began with the Notre Dame contest. Hagel has driven home 12 runs and scored 10 times, tallying six doubles during the span. He has also drawn six walks for a .537 on base percentage and has a .618 slugging percentage in the month.
Leading After Eight: Valpo is a perfect 21-0 this season when taking a lead into the ninth inning.
Racking Up the Hits: Valpo has tallied double figure hit totals in seven of its last nine games beginning on May 2 at Notre Dame. The Crusaders have registered 10 or more hits in 15 of their last 22 games overall as well. Valpo’s season high for hits in a game was 20 at Butler back on March 17.
Miller Slams the Door on League Foes: Jarad Miller has made 11 appearances in Horizon League contests this season. He has tallied a win and six saves while posting a minuscule 1.02 ERA, allowing just two runs and striking out 13 in his 17.2 innings of work.
Playing Small Ball: The Crusaders ranked fifth in the country entering the week with 73 sacrifice bunts on the season. Tanner Vavra ranks third individually with 20 sacrifice bunts on the year.
A Long Road Back: Valpo fell 10 games under the .500 mark on April 3 after a loss at Western Michigan, but has battled back to move seven games over the .500 mark after winning 21 of its last 25 games overall. Prior to this season, the last time Valpo was seven games over .500 was April 19, 2001.
Bain Closing in on Hits List: Andrew Bain enters the weekend with 70 hits on the season, just eight safeties shy of moving into the top-five all-time in Valpo single season history. Michael Arensdorff had 78 hits for the Crusaders in 2005.
Ouch: Tanner Vavra has been hits by a pitch 18 times already this season, most in the Horizon League. The 18 beanings rank him second on Valpo’s single season list, trailing just Eric Snyder who was hit by a pitch 21 times in 2003.
Closing in on 100 Innings: Tyler Deetjen needs just 4.2 innings of work while Kevin Wild is 9.0 innings shy of the 100.0 inning mark for the season. Only four Crusaders in history have reached the mark, one of whom was Deetjen, who tossed 103.0 innings last year.
Deetjen on Career Charts: Tyler Deetjen ranks fifth in Valparaiso history having logged 285.1 innings of work on the mound this season. The southpaw just passed Shawn Barker (1987-1990) and is just 0.2 innings behind John Grippi (1984-1988) for fourth on the career charts and 6.1 innings in back of Tim Holmes (1984-1987) for a spot in the top three.
No Free Passes Here: Valpo’s pitching staff ranks eighth in all of NCAA Division I through May 13 allowing just 2.3 walks per nine innings of work this year. Individually, Tyler Deetjen ranks third in the country with a 0.66 walk per nine inning rate, having issued just seven free passes in 95.1 innings of work. Deetjen also ranks seventh in the country with a 7.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Quick Games: Valpo has played 19 games in 2:15 or less this season and 37 in 2:30 or under. The Crusaders are averaging just 2:20 for their nine-inning games this year, and 2:28 overall, including two four-hour plus games of 15 and 16 innings. Four times this year the Crusaders have played under four hours.
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 two more saves at Wright State and now has seven for the year. His 35 career saves are 21 more than any other player in program history. Miller set the school’s single season record with 17 during his All-American season in 2009. He is tied with Wright State’s Michael Schum for most career saves in Horizon League history with 35.
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.
Valpo Earns Honorable Mention Team of the Week Honors: The Crusaders were one of four teams nationally recognized by College Baseball Insider for their play April 30-May 6, picking up Central Region Team of the Week honors from the website.
Hurlers Earn National Honor: Valpo’s pitching staff was named the National Pitching Staff of the Week on April 24 by insidepitching.com for their efforts against Indiana State and Butler. In four games the pitchers completed 43 innings of work. They allowed just four earned runs and 26 hits while striking out 29 opposing hitters.
Vavra Named Conference 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 has earned the award three times himself after being named Pitcher of the Week on March 26, April 9, and April 23. Kyle Wormington is the latest Crusader hurler to pick up the accolade, doing so on May 7.
This and That: John Loeffler has reached base safely in 26 consecutive games ... Steven Scoby has not made an error in 125 chances in the outfield this season ... Tanner Vavra has 148 assists this year, which ranks third on the Crusaders’ single season list ... Ryan Kennedy has not allowed a run in nine appearances (14.0 innings) this year ... Valpo pitchers have held Horizon League foes to just a .260 batting average and have posted a 3.08 earned run average in conference contests ... the Crusaders have won nine of their last 10 home games.