BASEBALL: Ball State carries momentum into match up at Indiana
Cardinals have won five straight against Hoosiers
There's a little more riding on Ball State University's game Tuesday at Indiana University than the average midweek college baseball game.
There's the Cardinals' current four-game winning streak, a five-game winning streak dating back to 1998 against the Hoosiers and the chance to beat another team that reached the NCAA Tournament last year. Oh yeah, and there are the normal feelings that get stirred up anytime Ball State takes on its big brother from Bloomington.
"We're going to play IU and there aren't many pep talks needed," coach Greg Beals said. "Our guys will be ready."
Beals is committed to giving the game at Indiana (13-13) the extra attention he feels it merits. Normally, the Cardinals (11-15) use midweek games as a chance to experiment and give his regulars a bit of a break.
"We're going to use that bullpen to eat up some innings for us," Beals said. "We're going have a little bit of a mixed lineup in there, but we're going to go after that game, and try to keep that winning streak alive."
Ball State echoed its coach's stance Sunday after completing a three-game sweep of Mid-American Conference rival Miami University. The need to keep their momentum going full-steam ahead remained a common theme.
"We've got to come ready to play and get another win," third baseman Stephen Claypool said.
Ball State will turn to sophomore Cody Elliott for Tuesday's start. Elliott is the Cardinals' regular center fielder, but has appeared in four games as a reliever. He has not pitched since March 23 at the University of Notre Dame, but has thrown five consecutive scoreless innings.
With last year's heroes gone, both teams will need new players to step up. Former Ball State center fielder Jeremy Hazelbaker hit a walk off home run to defeat the Hoosiers 5-4 last year, but will be reporting to his minor league assignment with the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Indiana is without All-American catcher Josh Phegley who reached base four times last year. Now he is in the minors with the Chicago White Sox.
Taking Pegley's place in the Hoosier lineup has been first baseman Jerrud Sabourin and left fielder Alex Dickerson. Sabourin is hitting .462 to lead Indiana, while Dickerson isn't far behind with a .446 average. Dickerson also has 11 home runs.
Indiana scored 26 runs Sunday as they steamrolled the University of Michigan and is hitting .326 as team.
For Ball State, however, the emphasis will continue to be on its winning streak.
"It's a huge thing to keep the momentum going," reliever Derek Grabner said. "It's like in a baseball game, you score a run and then you put up a zero."
Ball State at Indiana
Game No. 26
First pitch: 3 p.m.
Pitching matchup: RHP Cody Elliott (0-1, 2.35 ERA) vs. TBA
Weather: 79 degrees, sunny, SSW 22 mph