Rhodehouse Honored as Horizon League Pitcher of the Week
The stellar performance of Valpo freshman Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) was recognized by the Horizon League as the league unveiled its weekly awards on Monday.
Rhodehouse was named the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week, becoming the second Crusader to earn that honor this season. Rhodehouse entered Sunday’s game against first-place UIC in a 6-6 deadlock in the sixth. He delivered four shutout innings of relief to pick up the win for the Crusaders, who prevailed 7-6.
Rhodehouse retired all 12 batters he faced and racked up a career-high seven strikeouts. His four innings and 55 pitches marked season highs. He hadn't gone longer than two innings since a three-inning stint on Feb. 19.
The rookie righty also played a role in Saturday's doubleheader sweep at Milwaukee, nailing down his third save of the season in the 7-4 Game 2 win. Collectively, the Valpo bullpen compiled 12 2/3 scoreless innings over four games to help the Crusaders to an important winning weekend as they took three of four to secure a berth in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament.
Rhodehouse becomes just the second relief pitcher to win the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week award this season and the first since UIC’s Connor Ryan on Feb. 27. He also became the first freshman to receive the distinction this year.
Rhodehouse is the first Valpo relief pitcher to win the Horizon League Pitcher of the Week award since Karch Kowalczyk on May 6, 2013. He also is the first Crusader true freshman to win the award since Bryce Shafer on March 4, 2008. Ellis Foreman did receive the honor as a redshirt freshman in 2014.
The Crusaders will be back in action on Thursday at 3 p.m. CT to begin a three-game series with Milwaukee at Emory G. Bauer Field to conclude the regular season. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Freshman Relievers Shine in Doubleheader Split with First-Place Flames
The Valparaiso University baseball team came up on the wrong end of a 2-0 pitchers’ duel in Game 1 of Sunday’s doubleheader against first-place UIC, but the Crusaders bounced back by pulling out a 7-6 victory in a seesaw Game 2 on Sunday at Emory G. Bauer Field. After winning three of four during a difficult stretch of four games in two days in two locations, Valpo has clinched a berth in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament. Freshman Jake Larson (Irvine, Calif. / Woodbridge) kept the Crusaders in the first game with five shutout innings of relief, then classmate Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) dominated over four perfect frames to earn the win in Game 2.
How It Happened – Game 1
- The Crusaders (23-28, 12-15 Horizon) were stymied by UIC right-hander Jack Andersen, who hurled six shutout innings of two-hit ball while issuing no walks and striking out five. Andersen eventually became the winning pitcher to move to 4-2.
- The bullpen of the Flames (35-13, 20-6) was also stellar, as three different relievers threw shutout innings. The last of those was Alex Padilla, who captured his seventh save.
- The only runs in the entire game by either team came in the top of the first. Rob Calabrese lifted a sacrifice fly to drive in one, then Scott Ota doubled to left to score another.
- Grant Inman (Fort Wayne, Ind. / Carrol) was hit with the defeat to drop to 4-6 after allowing two runs on five hits and four walks in four frames. An excellent relief appearance by Larson went to waste, as the freshman righty threw five shutout innings to keep the Crusaders in the game.
- Valpo mustered up just two hits and one walk.
How It Happened – Game 2
- The second game of Sunday’s double dip was a ragged affair that saw UIC starter Jacob Key leave after just 1 2/3 innings and Valpo’s Ellis Foreman (Round Rock, Texas / Stony Point) last only 3 1/3.
- It turned into a game of the bullpens, and Valpo’s ‘pen won that battle, thanks mostly to the work of Rhodehouse. After Alex Dirienzo (Somerset, Pa. / Somerset [Akron]) was charged with no runs on no hits and two walks in 1 1/3, Rhodehouse came in and worked four perfect innings, sending down all 12 men he faced, seven of them on strikeouts.
- Valpo started the scoring in the second game when Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) ripped a run-scoring single to center in the first. The Flames drew even on Brandon Gibis’ single through the right side in the second.
- An RBI grounder by James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos) put Valpo back on top in the second, then Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian) added on by lashing a run-scoring single. Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) got in on the act in the third with a single up the middle that scored a run.
- The game took its first turn in the UIC fourth inning when the Flames scored a high five to take a 6-4 lead. Valpo bounced right back with two in the bottom of the inning to knot it up at six.
- The frenetic scoring pace from the game’s early innings slowed down considerably in the later stages, as neither team scored again until the eighth. That’s when two errors by the Flames helped the Crusaders corral an unearned run that proved to be the difference.
Inside the Games
- Rhodehouse’s relief appearance couldn’t have gone much better – he retired all 12 batters he faced and sent down seven of them via strikeouts, a career high in that department. Rhodehouse got a well-deserved win to bump his record up to 4-6.
- Mitchell Schulewitz allowed just the one unearned run in his two innings of relief, but fell to 3-1 after the hard-luck loss.
- The Crusaders managed to score seven runs without the benefit of an extra-base knock in Game 2. All eight Valpo hits were singles.
- The Valpo bullpen totaled 12 2/3 innings in the four games this weekend and did not allow any runs. Larson and Rhodehouse accounted for the bulk of that with their outstanding long relief performances in Sunday’s doubleheader.
- Rhodehouse’s four-inning outing was his longest of the season. The last time he worked more than two innings was a three-inning stint on Feb. 19 at Western Kentucky. He threw 55 pitches on Sunday, also a season high.
- Over his last two outings, Larson has totaled 10 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
- Kapers and Garbella had two hits apiece in the second game to pace Valpo. In addition to playing third base instead of his normal role behind the plate, Kapers thrived offensively this weekend, going 6-for-14 (.429) with four RBIs in the four games.
Inside the Standings UIC and Wright State play each other in Dayton in a three-game series this week beginning on Thursday. The Flames only have to win one game in the series to secure the regular season title and the right to host the league tournament, while Wright State must sweep to do so. Youngstown State is locked into seventh and will miss the league tournament. If Valpo wins at least one game against Milwaukee next weekend, the Crusaders will finish no worse than fifth. The Crusaders enter the final weekend two games behind Northern Kentucky for the No. 3 seed. If Valpo sweeps Milwaukee and Northern Kentucky drops at least two of three to Oakland, Valpo would move up to the No. 3 seed. The Crusaders are currently one game ahead of Oakland for fourth, so they must also win at least the same number of games as Oakland next weekend to assure they will not be passed by the Grizzlies.
The Crusaders will begin the final series of the regular season on Thursday against Milwaukee at Emory G. Bauer Field. The game is slated to begin at 3 p.m. CT and can be heard on 95.1 FM Valparaiso. Links to live audio and stats will be available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Crusaders Sweep Critical Doubleheader from Panthers
The Valparaiso University baseball team took a giant step toward securing its place in the upcoming Horizon League Tournament on Saturday, sweeping a doubleheader from Milwaukee at Henry Aaron Field. The Crusaders cruised to an 11-3 win in the opener before holding on for a 7-4 triumph in Game 2. Senior James Stea (Los Alamitos, Calif. / Los Alamitos) homered in both games and also tripled and drove in five in the second game. Valpo can clinch a spot in the league tournament on Sunday with either at least one victory over UIC or at least one Oakland victory over Youngstown State.
How It Happened – Game 1
- The Crusaders (22-27, 11-14 Horizon) took the lead on just the second pitch of the game as Stea rocketed a solo homer down the left field line.
- Valpo chased Milwaukee starter Austin Schulfer with a prosperous fourth inning. The frame started when Sam Shaikin (West Hills, Calif. / Chatsworth) connected on Valpo’s second home run of the day, a solo blast to left to make it 2-0.
- Chase Dawson (Chesterton, Ind. / Andrean) drove in the second run of the inning with an infield single on a sharp ground ball to first. Nate Palace (Westlake Village, Calif. / Oaks Christian) was hit by a pitch to force in a run with the bases loaded, then Jake Hanson (Yorkville, Ill. / Aurora Christian) came through with a sharp two-out single to center to drive in two. Palace also came around to score on the play on a fielding error in center.
- Valpo added a run in the fifth as Giovanni Garbella (San Diego, Calif. / Cathedral Catholic) led off the inning with a double to deep left center and eventually scored on a ground ball to first by Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif. / Wilson).
- The Panthers (21-30, 11-16) got on the board with a Chris Kelly run-scoring single in the fifth, then added a pair on a single by Trevor Schwecke in the seventh to make it 8-3.
- Dent made the defensive play of the day in the sixth, a leaping catch at the fence that appeared to rob Milwaukee’s John Boidanis of a home run.
- Mario Losi (Anaheim, Calif. / Canyon) departed with one out in the bottom of the eighth with Milwaukee runners at second and third. It was one of the senior right-hander’s strongest outings of the year. He allowed three runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out four.
- The Crusaders added a tally in the top of the ninth as Shaikin lifted a deep fly ball that was dropped by the left fielder, scoring Hanson on an E-7. That damage compounded into two additional unearned runs as Scott Kapers (Schererville, Ind. / Mount Carmel) banged a two-run double.
- Chet Joslyn (Battle Creek, Mich. / Lakeview) came in and got the final two outs of the eighth inning, then worked a scoreless ninth to seal the Valpo victory.
How It Happened – Game 2
- The two teams exchanged threats in the first inning of the second game, as Milwaukee starter Alex Fischer worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the first, then Jon Tieman (Crystal Lake, Ill. / Prairie Ridge) worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the bottom half.
- Valpo cracked the scoreboard first for the second straight game by pouring in three runs in the top of the second. Stea provided the first blow for the second straight game, this time a two-run triple in the top of the second. Palace followed by belting a double to make it 3-0.
- The Crusaders got to the bullpen early in the second game, as Fischer was yanked after just two-plus innings following a single by Garbella to lead off the third.
- The Crusaders boosted the lead to four in the fourth as Kapers clubbed a double, then crossed the dish on a sac fly by Stea, who notched his third RBI of the game.
- The Panthers sliced the deficit in half in the bottom of the fourth. Boidanis led off the frame by belting a solo homer, then Billy Quirke had a run-scoring single to make it 4-2.
- Stea continued his monster day at the dish by crushing a two-run dinger with Dawson along for the ride. That doubled Valpo’s lead to 6-2 in the sixth.
- The Panthers got one back in the bottom of the sixth as Mike Jordahl smoked a solo homer, but the Crusaders still owned a 6-3 edge.
- Kapers lifted a sacrifice fly in the seventh to boost Valpo’s lead back to four at 7-3.
- Tieman pitched a gem, coming up one out shy of a complete game. He allowed four runs, three earned, on 10 hits and four walks while striking out nine in 8 2/3 innings. The Panthers got one run in the ninth to account for the final score. Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz. / Highland) nailed down his third save by recording the final out.
Inside the Games
- Stea’s home runs were his sixth and seventh of the season, moving him into sole possession of second on the team behind only Palace. Shaikin’s blast was his fourth of the year.
- Losi picked up the victory in the opener to boost his record to 2-4. Austin Schulfer was dealt the defeat to drop to 6-5.
- Stea had a strong first game, reaching base three times including two extra-base hits. Hanson and Dawson both boasted productive performances, notching three hits apiece.
- Stea’s triple in the second inning of Game 2 was his second three-bagger of the season.
- Palace led the Crusaders with three hits in the second game.
- Fischer took the loss for the Panthers in the second game, dropping to 1-4 on the season. He lasted just two frames and was charged with three runs on five hits and three walks. Tieman’s win upped his record to 3-1.
The Crusaders will make the trip back to Valparaiso on Saturday evening and face a quick turnaround as they welcome UIC to Emory G. Bauer Field for a doubleheader on Sunday at noon CT. The games will be broadcast on 95.1 FM Valparaiso with links to live audio and stats available on ValpoAthletics.com.
Magnifico Named to All-Tournament Team
Valparaiso University freshman outfielder Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) capped off her rookie season by representing the Crusaders on the All-Tournament Team at the 2017 Horizon League Championship, as announced by the league at the tournament’s conclusion Saturday.
Magnifico registered home runs off of two of the league’s four All-League pitchers to lead the Valpo offense in tournament play. Her solo shot in the second inning of Valpo’s opener off of Oakland’s Erin Kownacki accounted for the lone run in a 1-0 victory for the Crusaders. Magnifico then connected for a two-run shot off of Youngstown State’s Maddi Lusk on Thursday to give Valpo an early 2-0 lead in that contest.
Magnifico closed out her freshman year tied for second on the team with six home runs. She also tied for third on the year with 24 runs scored, while with three RBIs in the league tournament, Magnifico bumped her season total to 16 driven in.
Softball Closes Season at Horizon League Championship
The Valparaiso University softball team saw its 2017 season come to an end on Friday afternoon at the Horizon League Championship, as the Crusaders finished the tournament in fourth place with an 8-0 loss to Detroit Mercy. Valpo ended the season with 28 wins – its highest win total since 2013 – and senior Sam Stewart (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) finished out her final year with four program single-season records.
How It Happened
- Detroit Mercy jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead on Friday in the top of the first, despite having just one ball leave the infield.
- The Titans added a single run in the third to push their lead to 4-0.
- Valpo had runners on in each of the first three innings – a pair of one-out walks in the first, a one-out single in the second and a leadoff single and a two-out walk in the third – but were unable to push any runs across the plate.
- An error in the top of the fifth led to the Titans’ Ellie Boteler connecting on a grand slam to close the scoring.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders were limited to just two hits on Friday – singles from freshmen Hannah Dybalski (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) and Morgan Matalin (Crown Point, Ind./Crown Point).
- Stewart drew a pair of walks in her two plate appearances in her final game.
- Valpo was 0-for-5 on Friday with runners in scoring position.
- Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) took the loss in the start, falling to 20-12 to close out the year.
Closing Out the Season
- Stewart set new Valpo single-season records for on-base percentage (.568), slugging percentage (.836), home runs (15) and walks (49) in her final year in the Crusader uniform.
- Stewart also closed out the year fourth in a single season in RBIs, sixth in batting average, seventh in runs scored and eighth in total bases.
- Also at the plate, sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) closed the year tied for fifth in a season in program history in triples and sixth in hits.
- In the circle, Grossmann ranks third in a single season in wins, fifth in pitching appearances, tied for seventh in saves and tied for ninth in strikeouts, while freshman Lindsay Zdroik (Elgin, Ill./St. Edward) also tied for seventh in a single season in saves.
- In the field, junior Jasmine Ramirez (Litchfield Park, Ariz./Millennium) committed just one error at first base in 2017, closing the campaign tied for fourth in a season in fielding percentage and fifth in putouts.
- The left side of the Crusader infield stayed busy all year long, as sophomore Jaymee Lawton (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge [Utah Valley]) finished second in a season in program history in assists and senior Jorgi Calombaris (Frankfort, Ill./Lincoln-Way East) placed fifth in the same category.
- As a team, the 2017 squad ranked third in a single season all-time at Valpo in walks, saves and assists, fourth in home runs and fifth in fielding percentage.
Saying Goodbye to the Seniors
- Classmates and longtime neighbors, Calombaris and Stewart both saw their Crusader careers come to an end on Friday.
- Calombaris ended her four years at Valpo seventh in program history in at-bats (608), 10th in games played (201) and tied for 10th in assists (301).
- Calombaris also closed her career just outside the Crusaders’ all-time top-10 with 150 hits and 89 runs scored.
- Stewart ended her time at Valpo third in program history in home runs (29); fourth in RBIs (110), walks (89) and slugging percentage (.543); and sixth in on-base percentage (.414).
Thoughts From Head Coach Kate Stake
“Jorgi and Sam will be missed. They came into their own this year – as competitors, as teammates and as people. It’s been a privilege to coach them.”
“This year’s team was special. They embodied our ‘with it or on it’ ethos. They played selflessly. They celebrated each other’s success and picked each other up in defeat. And while this particular group won’t end their season with a ring, the successes that we found throughout the season – on the field and off – have made this a special year.”
Crusaders Drop NCAA Tournament Match to No. 17 Michigan
The match was tighter than the score would indicate, but the Valparaiso University men’s tennis team dropped its first-round NCAA Tournament showdown with No. 17 Michigan 4-0 on Friday afternoon.
The match started favorably for the Crusaders as the No. 1 doubles team of Jeffrey Schorsch (Perrysburg, Ohio / Perrysburg) and Charlie Emhardt (Carmel, Ind. / Carmel) picked up a 6-2 win over Jathan Malik and Connor Johnston. The Crusaders cruised to the victory in a battle of two nationally-ranked doubles tandems. Emhardt and Schorsch entered the match at No. 41 in the nation, while Johnston and Malik stood at No. 29 nationally.
Schorsch and Emhardt became the first doubles team in program history to pick up an NCAA Tournament win. Last year, Schorsch and Emhardt had a 5-3 edge at No. 1 doubles in the NCAA Tournament showdown against Northwestern, but the match went unfinished as the Wildcats nailed down the doubles point.
For Emhardt, it was career doubles win No. 115, which marks the program record. Schorsch now has 29 doubles victories this season, one shy of the single-season program record set by Emhardt and Schorsch as sophomores. As a team, Emhardt and Schorsch are 20-6, 10-2 in dual play.
It’s not the end of the road for the senior duo as Schorsch and Emhardt have earned a spot in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Doubles Championships, one of 32 doubles teams in the field. The doubles competition will be conducted May 24-29 at Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Georgia.
The Crusaders dropped the doubles point by virtue of losses at No. 2 and No. 3. Kyle Dunn (Fond du Lac, Wis. / Fond du Lac) and Garrett Gardner (Poland, Ohio / Poland) fell 6-3 to Myles Schalet and Kevin Wong to level the doubles matches 1-1, leaving No. 2 doubles as the only match left in action. Chad Kissell (Latrobe, Pa. / Greater Latrobe) and Dave Bacalla (Skokie, Ill. / Niles North) fought off several match points against Runhao Hua and Alex Knight, but Michigan eventually earned the 7-5 victory.
The first singles match to finish was No. 2, as Kissell fell to Alex Knight 6-2, 6-2. Kissell finished his sophomore campaign at 22-11, 15-8 in dual matches. Kissell is expected to be Valpo’s top returning player for the 2017-18 season. Knight is ranked No. 86 nationally.
Ancona lost his match in straight sets to Carter Lin 6-2, 6-4 at No. 6 singles. The Valpo freshman finished the season at 23-11, 16-6 in dual play. He is expected to return as a centerpiece of Valpo’s team next season.
That put the Crusaders in a precarious position, needing to win all four remaining singles matches to advance to the second round of the tournament. The Crusaders still had a pulse, as the four remaining matches all went to a third set.
The clinching match came at No. 4 singles, as Runhao Hua nailed down a 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over Bacalla. That ended Bacalla’s illustrious Crusader career as he finished with a 19-13 overall record and 12-8 dual mark in his senior season. He went 21-6 in doubles this year.
Bacalla, an all-league second team honoree his freshman year and a first-team selection as a sophomore, finished with 82 career singles wins and 75 doubles victories, both ranking in the top four in program history.
The other Crusader to take the court as a collegiate player for the final time on Friday was Dunn, who saw his match go unfinished at No. 5 singles, trailing 3-6, 6-4, 3-1. Dunn lost only two league singles matches in his four-year career and finished with 92 career singles victories. He went 27-7 and 19-3 in dual matches as a senior.
Schorsch was leading No. 72 Jathan Malik at No. 1 singles when the match was halted. He dropped the first set 3-6, but had come back with a 6-4 win in Set 2 and owned a 5-4 lead in the decisive set. Emhardt and Myles Schalet were even at No. 3 singles 2-6, 6-3, 3-3 when play was halted due to the clinch-clinch format of all postseason matches.
The Crusaders finish the season at 23-4 overall, setting the school record for victories in a single season for the fourth straight year.
Softball Falls to Youngstown State Thursday
The road to defending the Horizon League crown got a bit more challenging for the Valparaiso University softball team on Thursday, as the third-seeded Crusaders were dealt a 9-2 defeat by second-seeded Youngstown State. Valpo now has to win twice on Friday to reach Championship Saturday.
How It Happened
- For the second straight day, a long ball off the bat of freshman Gabby Magnifico (Elmhurst, Ill./York) got the scoring going for the Crusaders. Magnifico stepped up in the top of the second with a runner on – courtesy of a one-out double from junior Lanie Callaghan (Elburn, Ill./Kaneland) – and drove a 1-1 pitch down the left-field line for a no-doubt homer to make it 2-0 Valpo.
- But the Penguins took the lead for good in the bottom of the third. The Crusaders were one out from escaping the inning without any damage, but YSU used a pair of Valpo errors, three walks, two hit batters and five base hits to score eight unearned runs and go ahead 8-2.
- YSU scored its final run of the game in the bottom of the fifth, while the Crusaders were able to get just one runner into scoring position in the final four innings.
Inside the Game
- The Crusaders were facing the Penguins for the fifth time in the last three Horizon League tournaments held at UIC. Valpo went 2-1 against YSU in Chicago in 2013, getting run-ruled in the tournament opener before beating the Penguins twice on Championship Saturday, and also defeated YSU at Flames Field last season.
- Two of the Crusaders’ three Horizon League titles have come out of the loser’s bracket, but on both of those occasions, Valpo dropped its first game of the tournament.
- Valpo was limited to just three hits on Thursday, as sophomore Carly Trepanier (Manteno, Ill./Manteno) also picked up a base knock.
- Magnifico now has six home runs on the season after connecting on a round-tripper for the second straight day.
- Junior Kenzie Grossmann (Perry, Mo./Mark Twain [Morehead State]) was tagged with the loss to fall to 20-11 on the year despite not giving up an earned run in the start.
The Crusaders (28-22) will have to win twice on Friday and twice on Saturday to claim the tournament title, a road which begins with a matchup against fifth-seeded Detroit Mercy on Friday afternoon at noon. The game can be seen live on ESPN3, WatchESPN and the ESPN app, with links for the live video and live stats available via ValpoAthletics.com.