Baseball Returns to Horizon League Play at Valparaiso
April 4, 2013
CHICAGO – The UIC baseball team returns to Horizon League action this weekend with a three-game series at defending conference champion Valparaiso, starting on Friday at 3 p.m. CT. The Flames are winners of six of their last eight games and look to strengthen their No. 2 spot in the league standings as they are currently tied with Youngstown State with a 3-3 record. The Penguins will host first-place Milwaukee for a trio of contests this weekend.
“We expect a good series,” said head coach Mike Dee. “They are a very good club, but I don’t’ think this series will define our season. It is important because it is the next three games for us and I feel like we have a pretty good chance of playing well this weekend.”
The Crusaders enter the weekend with a 10-17 overall record and league mark of 1-5. Despite dropping seven of their last 10 games, the Crusaders have proven to be formidable as they nearly upset #20 Notre Dame this past Wednesday. The Irish scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to squeak by Valpo, 3-1. The Crusaders have relied on their pitching and defense for much of the 2013 season as they own a league-best 3.41 combined ERA, but a conference-low 101 total runs. A pair of seniors pilot Valpo at the plate in Tanner Vavra and Andrew Bain. Both players are hitting just a few points under the .300 mark and have combined for 58 hits and 20 RBI so far this year.
UIC dropped a set of hard-fought road games this past week at #20 Notre Dame on Tuesday and Northwestern on Wednesday. The 6-2 loss to the Irish was the Flames’ first defeat against ND since May of 2007 as UIC couldn’t dig themselves out of a first-inning 3-0 hole. Versus the Wildcats, the Flames struggled to string together solid at-bats as they fell 3-1, but nearly equaled NU in hits by a margin of 8-7. Sophomore Tyler Detmer tallied three of those seven hits as he leads the team with a .326 batting average.
“We have parts of our team that are playing really well right now,” said Dee. “I think we’re playing the best defense we’ve played all year. I don’t think we’ve done a good job at having consistently good at-bats and that’s something we are trying to address.”