BASEBALL: Indiana State's offensive style will test Ball State
Pitching staff hopes for light day after extra innings Sunday
Still looking for its first win of the year against an in-state, Division I rival, Ball State University will have two more chances this week starting with Indiana State University on Tuesday.
Indiana State (23-10) will visit Ball Diamond at 3 p.m before Ball State (16-19) heads to Butler University (11-21) Wednesday.
The Sycamores have lost six straight games in Muncie, dating back to 1995. But Indiana State has won two of the last three meetings with Ball State, including a 14-6 beating last year.
"We've lost a few of the last years," catcher Zach Dygert said. "We're definitely going to have to come out and pitch and play well to defend our home field."
Indiana State had their six-game winning streak snapped Sunday by Wichita State University, but the Sycamores are hot. They have won three straight weekend series, including wins against The Citadel, a regional host contender, on the road.
The Sycamores play small ball, a style of play that Dygert said has given the Cardinals problems in the past.
"They're scrappy," he said. "They don't hit a lot of home runs, but they really play good small baseball. They bunt and steal a lot and they've given us a lot of trouble over the years."
Indiana State has just 13 home runs as a team, led by right fielder Robby Ort with three. Second baseman Kolbrin Vitek leads Ball State with 10. The Cardinals have hit 45 long balls this year, more than three times the Sycamore's total.
Ball State hopes to get a longer midweek start than usual from Brad Piatt after an 11-inning loss Sunday taxed the bullpen. Piatt's longest outing of the year is four innings, which the senior has done twice.
"We're going to need to get some good pitching," coach Greg Beals said. "Our pitching staff is a little bit depleted with the extra innings [Sunday]. We're going to need to get some extended innings from Brad Piatt."
The Cardinals have won their last four series since entering Mid-American Conference action and are playing well after facing one of the nation's most difficult nonconference schedules. Center fielder Cody Elliott thinks they will be fine Tuesday if they keep playing the same way.
"We just need to come out and play like we've been playing," Elliott said. "Get the little things done that we didn't do [Sunday] and play like we know how."
Indiana State at Ball State
Game No. 36
First pitch: 3 p.m.
Pitching matchup: RHP JT Stenftenagel (2-0, 4.08) vs. RHP Brad Piatt (0-3, 9.39)
Weather: 63 degrees, partly cloudy, northeast 4 mph