April 7, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern will host its first midweek game of the season on Tuesday afternoon when the Horizon League's Valparaiso Crusaders visit Rocky Miller Park for a nonconference tilt at 3 p.m.
Valparaiso won the last meeting between the two schools, 5-2, on March 30, 2011. Northwestern has held the upper hand throughout the all-time series, however, as it has won 22 of the 31 previous matchups.
GET ON BOARD
Two Northwestern freshmen, Joe Hoscheit and Matt Hopfner, have both reached base safely in 17 consecutive games this season. Hopfner accomplished the feat in the first 17 games of his collegiate career (2/15-3/22), while Hoscheit did it from Feb. 23 through March 29. Senior Nick Linne posted an on-base streak of 11 consecutive games earlier this year, while Zach Jones holds NU's longest active streak at five games.
Sophomore first baseman Zach Jones has been wielding a big bat for Northwestern during Big Ten play this season. The Glenview, Ill., native has hit safely in all eight conference games and he has a team-high 12 hits during that span. On March 28, his birthday, Jones tallied a three-hit performance at Penn State. He also drove in the first run of the game with a base hit to right field against Illinois on April 5.
Three Northwestern position players have started all 26 games this season for head coach Paul Stevens. Zach Jones has opened every game at first base and Cody Stevens started the first two games at second base against USC and the last 21 at shortstop. Freshman utility man Joe Hoscheit has started 12 games at third base, 10 in left field and four as the designated hitter. Freshman outfielder Matt Hopfner has started the last 24 games and Scott Heelan has made 20 starts behind the dish and three at second base. Nick Friar leads the Wildcats with 11 appearances out of the bullpen; Dan Tyson has made nine appearances, including four starts. Last season only one player started every game; Stevens' older brother, Trevor, started all 48 contests at shortstop for the `Cats.
SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS
Valparaiso is 11-14 on the season in its first year under the direction of head coach Brian Schmack and 3-7 in its last 10 games since March 21. The Crusaders, who are batting just .220 as a team, have been led offensively by senior Chris Manning and junior Spencer Mahoney. Manning is batting .260 with 16 RBI and seven extra-base hits, including three home runs. Mahoney leads Valpo in several offensive categories including batting average (.290), hits (27), runs (23) and on-base percentage (.421). On the mound, the Crusaders have a 4.49 ERA with nine pitchers collecting six appearances or more. Tuesday's probable starter, redshirt freshman Ellis Foreman, has a 5.40 ERA in 28.1 IP. Opponents are hitting .313 against the right-handed hurler.
After playing the Crusaders, Northwestern will jump back into Big Ten play to host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a three-game series beginning Friday, April 11 at 3 p.m. The Wildcats topped the Hawkeyes in two of three ballgames last season, all of which were held at Lee Pfund Stadium in Carol Stream, Ill.
For more notes and information about the Wildcats, please download the PDF at the top of the page.
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